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Baptist Health bringing staff Downtown from suburbs
The Southbank skyline will have a new look when the sign changes on the Aetna Building are completed.
Another sign to identify the Southbank campus of Baptist Health System was approved Thursday by the Downtown Development Review Board of the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission.

It also is a sign that Downtown business is on the upswing.

The request was made because Baptist Health System is consolidating its corporate and administrative staff from the suburbs into 80,000 square feet of space in the Aetna Building.

Audrey Moran, vice president for Social Responsibility and Consumer Advocacy, said that with 8,200 employees, Baptist Health is Jacksonville’s largest private employer.

She said the relocation of corporate staff into the Aetna Building, which is at the Baptist Medical Center Downtown complex, means that more than half of the Baptist Health workforce is at the Southbank campus. That includes the medical staff at the Baptist Medical Center Downtown.

“Baptist Health is an advocate for Downtown development,” she said. “Baptist Health is bringing people Downtown.”

South Shore Group, which owns and manages the landmark structure at 841 Prudential Drive, requested a deviation to a permit for an increase in allowable high-rise building sign area and multiple building signs.

It was noted in the application that the building is at a pivotal location on the St. Johns River where the river makes an extreme turn southward.

South Shore requested two additional building identification signs, on the east and west faces of the building, which exceeded the allowable 400 square feet per sign.

Baptist Health is relocating business office operations to the Aetna Building as a major corporate tenant. Aetna occupies 178,000 square feet in the building.

Betsy Reichert, vice president of property management for South Shore Group, said Aetna’s lease agreement allows signage for another tenant leasing at least 50,000 square feet in the building.

The new signs are intended to differentiate the Baptist Health business operations in the Aetna building from the medical health care facilities on the adjacent properties.

The building opened in 1955 as the regional headquarters of Prudential Insurance Co. At 22 stories, or 309 feet, in height, it was at the time the tallest building in the Southeast.

It maintained its status as Jacksonville’s tallest building until 1968, when Riverplace Tower, originally the Gulf Life Building, opened.

South Shore Marina was granted an additional one-year extension of DDRB’s approval of a proposed marina development and a Southbank Riverwalk enhancement project that originally was approved in 2007.

The project was postponed because of the economic downturn, but the developer plans to build the marina when financing is available, said attorney Staci Rewis of Gunster, who represented the developer at the meeting.

The approved design calls for a 128-slip public docking facility constructed of floating concrete docks supported by concrete piles.

The approved project also includes park improvements adjacent to the Riverwalk and interior modifications to expand retail and restaurant space inside the Baptist Health/Aetna Building.

Also approved by DDRB was the final design and signage plan for a 7-Eleven convenience store and gas station at 9 E. Union St.

The next meeting of the DDRB is scheduled at 2 p.m. March 1 at 1 W. Adams St., Suite 200.

mmarbut@baileypub.com

356-2466

Friday, Feb. 3
Jacksonville Landing Market
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The Landing
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Museum of Science & History
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Aaron Lewis in Concert
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Mavericks Rock N’ Honky Tonk
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Spade McQuade
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Saturday, Feb. 4
Farmers Market at RAM
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Artists Square
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Michael Feldman’s “Whad’Ya Know?”
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The Florida Theatre
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Water Education Festival
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Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra: “Pirates of the Caribbean”
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Ritz Jamm: “Soulful Night of Keys”
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Bank of America Family Free Day And ArtFusion
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John Edward
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Wednesday, Feb. 8
Willie Nelson and Friends
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