LandMar in default on Shipyards property
LandMar, the company developing the Shipyards project that stretches from Berkman Plaza to Kids Kampus, didn’t pay property taxes in 2008 and is, therefore, technically in default.
In a letter to Jacksonville Economic Development Commission Executive Director Ron Barton, John Yelverton, president of LandMar Group LLC out of Delaware, said “this letter is to provide the City written notice that LandMar Group, LLC has paid $0.00 in municipal and county ad valorem taxes for 2008 with respect to the Project and the Project Parcel.
“Although we are dealing with the effects of today’s economic circumstances, we will continue to cooperate with the City in working toward a resolution of this matter.”
Yelverton did not explain why LandMar didn’t pay its property taxes and didn’t return a phone call seeking explanation or what LandMar intends to do.
Barton informed City Council members of the issue through an April 16 letter.
“On April 15, 2009, I received notification from LandMar that the company did not make payment of its 2008 property taxes. This is considered a default action under the city’s Development Agreement with LandMar,” wrote Barton, who did not return a call, either. “On April 16, 2009, I sent LandMar a letter putting them on notice that they are in default of the Agreement for failure to make payment of the property taxes.”
According to Barton, there are issues beyond just a failure to pay property taxes last year.
“In addition, I also notified the company that the city has become aware that a lien has been placed on the property by a construction company related to its work on the bulkhead improvements,” said Barton, in the letter. “The placement of this lien is considered a default in terms of the city’s contract. LandMar has acknowledged this lien and is working on a resolution. I have asked that LandMar take action to cure both of these defaults as required by the terms of the Agreement.”
According to figures provided by the Property Appraiser’s office, the Shipyards is being developed under the name Northbank Development. In 2008, the property under question was assessed at $11.3 million and the taxes owed were $193,092.33.
The Shipyards — once hailed by former Mayor John Delaney as the crown jewel in what he called “The Billion Dollar Mile” — has come under scrutiny for several years. The original developer, TriLegacy, proposed a mix-used renovation that included high-rise condominiums, a hotel, restaurants and public space. That venture failed and was investigated by a Grand Jury, which eventually found no wrong doing on the part of TriLegacy.
LandMar then stepped in and took over the project on a scaled-back basis. According to Barton, LandMar has completed $19.5 million worth of public improvements that were focused on the bulkhead and core infrastructure to the Riverwalk. He also said LandMar has made $12 worth of payments on the debt service on the original bonds. In his letter to Council, Barton said he is meeting weekly with LandMar officials, City attorneys and representatives of the Council Auditors Office. He also said the City is contractually protected.
“The Development Agreement contains numerous safeguards for the city and we continue to address compliance and performance requirements,” he said. “The developer has shown good faith in communicating on all matters of the contract including the management of the identified default issues.”