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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Aug. 6, 201512:00 PM EST

300 riverfront apartments planned for old Crawdaddy's Restaurant site on Southbank


By early 2018, the former Crawdaddy’s Restaurant site on the Downtown Southbank could be transformed into a 300-unit luxury apartment community called the Broadstone River House.

John Zeledon, North Florida managing director for Phoenix-based Alliance Residential Co., said Tuesday the waterfront property is under contract with the site’s Miami-based ownership, which is reorganizing under Chapter 11 bankruptcy laws.

“We love the Southbank and I am really encouraged by the attention and the investment the city has put into the Riverwalk itself,” Zeledon said.

The 3-acre site sits along the recently redeveloped Southbank Riverwalk between the Lexington Hotel & Conference Center Jacksonville Riverwalk and the Duval County School Board headquarters.

Alliance Residential representatives have met with Downtown Investment Authority staff about the project.

However, Tim Graff, vice president of development, said the group isn’t necessarily seeking taxpayer incentives. Alliance Residential is asking DIA to help expedite entitlements to start the project sooner rather than later.

Alliance Residential would like to start development early next year and complete the project within two years.

While there are no renderings yet, the project is envisioned as a five- to six-story structure of 250 to 300 studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. A parking structure is planned.

Zeledon said Broadstone River House would be similar in concept to Alliance Residential’s recently opened Broadstone Hyde Park in Tampa, an “urban-modern community” of 259 apartments with nine-foot ceilings, gourmet kitchens and wood flooring.

The community areas outside include a pool, courtyard, fire pit and game areas. Inside amenities include a social clubroom and billiards lounge, and a health club that features a yoga studio, a spin studio and top-grade fitness equipment.

Zeledon said Broadstone River House’s rental structure would be in line with those at 220 Riverside, a new apartment community on the Northbank in the Brooklyn area.

Monthly rental rates there range from $1,100 for a studio up to $2,000 for the largest two-bedroom unit. It doesn’t offer three-bedroom units.

Graff had no estimate yet of the development costs.

Broadstone Hyde Park is similar to the proposed River House in that both are urban-infill projects with a surrounding retail base of upscale restaurants and stores, such as San Marco in Jacksonville. And it’s walkable.

According to Graff, the company was encouraged by the growth into the Southbank, such as the buildup of more stores and restaurants.

The area also features the high-rise Strand and Peninsula residential towers.

The group is working with Dwell Design Studio of Alpharetta, Ga., which designed the new Brooklyn Riverside apartments, although Broadstone River House won’t be as colorful. The River House will be more reflective of the riverfront.

Alliance Residential Co. is one of the largest private apartment developers in the country with several Florida properties. It develops under the Broadstone banner and already operates the Broadstone Beach House apartments in Jacksonville Beach.

DIA CEO Aundra Wallace said his staff met with Alliance representatives last week in what he characterized as part of the company’s due diligence.

Alliance Residential has contracted to buy part of 10.85 acres around the Lexington Hotel.

Coral Springs-based Vantage Hospitality Group bought the former Wyndham hotel property in June and converted it to its Lexington brand.

The surrounding property was separately owned and has been tied up in the bankruptcy reorganization of its owner, Riverwalk Jacksonville Development LLC of Miami.

The disclosure statement filed with an amended bankruptcy reorganization plan in July states that Alliance Realty Partners LLC, an affiliate of Alliance Residential Co., has contracted with Riverwalk Jacksonville Development to buy part of the property for $6.5 million.

Alliance wants to buy the eastern portion of the east parking lot and also what is called the Prudential Parcel, the waterfront site formerly occupied by Crawdaddy’s Restaurant.

Crawdaddy’s, a 12,000-square-foot building whose exterior featured rusted tin and distressed wood to resemble a fishing shack, was built in 1982-83. Chickens roamed the property. It closed in 2002 and the structure was demolished in 2004.

The Riverwalk Jacksonville Development disclosure statement says the property sale won’t be completed until all governmental approvals, including site plan approval, are obtained in connection with the development of the Alliance site into a 255-unit residential complex.

The closing date is anticipated by April, according to the statement. The reorganization petition was filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of Florida Miami Division.

“Meeting this early on, they are coming in and trying to understand our redevelopment plan, what is the permitting process, what incentives are out there and trying to discuss the entitlement process,” Wallace said.

He welcomes the conversation.

“No. 1, one of the highest priorities in our plan is residential, so from that standpoint, residential is something we need more of,” Wallace said.

He said beyond that, it’s early and he needs to know more about the group’s proposal and timeline.

The DIA Downtown Conceptual 2025 Redevelopment Master Plan shows the Southbank as an area targeted for multifamily residential, fine-dining restaurants, office and community-oriented retail, active uses along the waterfront, a pedestrian link to Riverplace Boulevard and the Southbank Riverwalk, and public access to the waterfront.

The independent authority’s second of seven goals is to increase rental and owner-occupied housing Downtown, targeting key demographic groups seeking a more urban lifestyle.

An objective under that goal is to actively pursue a minimum of 3,850 built and occupied multifamily units by 2025, striving “to induce” construction of 350 a year.

Alliance Residential’s website says it has 34 regional offices nationwide and is an active buyer, builder and manager across 19 states and 29 metropolitan markets.

Over the past 15 years, Alliance says it has become one of the largest private apartment owners and the ninth largest management company in the nation, with a $9 billion-plus portfolio of 81,000 units.

It says its “luxury apartment homes feature thoughtful details and lifestyle conveniences in a variety of premier living destinations” in markets that include Phoenix, Denver, Seattle, Los Angeles, Austin and Washington D.C.

It also started construction in June on Broadstone Harbor Beach in Fort Lauderdale.

The 394-unit, eight-story project offers views of the Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic Ocean.

Llorens could buy land near Lexington

The rest of the property around the Lexington Hotel on the Southbank could soon be bought by a familiar name.

South Florida-based investor Ramon Llorens, as manager of the family-owned Brickell South Miami Developments LLC, has a contract for much of the rest of the almost 11 acres that Riverfront Jacksonville Development LLC is selling as part of its bankruptcy reorganization.

Llorens, through ownership groups, already owns EverBank Center Downtown, more than 30 acres in the Talleyrand area that includes the former Ford Motor Co. factory under the Mathews Bridge, and 47 acres of vacant industrial land along New Berlin Road at Dames Point.

Riverfront Jacksonville’s disclosure statement filed in July with its second amended plan of reorganization states that on June 18, it entered into a purchase, sale and settlement agreement with Brickell South.

That agreement includes what are called the Riverplace Parcel and the west parking lot, with closing expected on or before Aug. 15.

The Llorens group would pay $1.75 million and satisfy a $3.61 million note and mortgage on the property, the statement says.

The Riverplace parcel includes the buildings leased by the Chart House restaurant and International House of Prayer, along with five vacant offices.

The west parking lot provides parking for tenants on the Riverplace parcel.

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