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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Mar. 7, 201806:30 AM EST

City asked to show cause in Southbank tower decision

Developer, neighbor at odds over plans to build residential tower.
by: David Cawton Staff Writer

The city of Jacksonville is being asked to show cause in a case dealing with a proposed Southbank residential tower under appeal to the 4th Judicial Circuit by neighboring property owners.

GV-IP Jacksonville Owner LLC is appealing a Dec. 12 decision by the Downtown Development Review Board, an agent of the city overseeing Downtown building standards. 

The decision would allow Ventures Development Group LLC to build a 13-story residential tower along Prudential Drive between the Eight Forty One building, formerly known as the Aetna Building, and the Acosta Bridge.

A Feb. 20 order from Circuit Judge Waddell Wallace gives the city until April 2 to show cause in writing why GV-IP’s petition for certiorari should not be granted and why the final decision of the DDRB should not be reversed. 

The petition for a writ of certiorari instructs Wallace to offer an opinion, at his discretion, on a lower court, or in this case, a governing body’s decision. The DDRB is an agent of the city, which is why it has been named as a party.

On Feb. 21, property owner Hines-SSGP Riverpointe L.L.C. and developer Ventures Development Group LLC also requested to be added as respondents to the case.

Wallace ruled Friday that both parties had the right to do so.

Ventures Development Group is under contract with Hines-SSGP Riverpointe to purchase and develop the 2.9 acres along Prudential Drive. 

Cristine Russell, the Rogers Towers attorney representing Hines-SSGP Riverpoint and Ventures Development Group, said through the motion that both parties have “direct and immediate interest in the subject litigation” because both groups could be affected by a court decision. 

GV-IP is represented by Holland & Knight attorney Daniel Bean. 

Ventures Development plans to build the tower with 300 apartments. A parking garage would be built into the first three stories with about 323 parking spots. Another 70 surface-lot spaces would be built around the tower. 

Ventures’ proposal required five administrative deviations from the zoning code to allow the development to exceed a height limit of 60 feet, reduce the amount of parking, and alter landscape and waterfront design requirements and required setbacks from Prudential Drive.

According to a 1,352-page request filed Jan. 16 for Wallace to issue a writ of certiorari, GV-IP claims the DDRB’s decision should be overturned because it failed to provide GV-IP with procedural due process when Ventures announced it was changing its building height from 190 feet to 150 feet; that Ventures didn’t meet the essential requirements of the law; and because of competent substantial evidence. 

GV-IP argued the DDRB compounded the error because it did not direct staff to re-analyze the project based on the new building height nor did it give GV-IP a “reasonable opportunity” to respond to the change.

GV-IP, owner of the Eight Forty One building through IP Capital Partners LLC, has fought the development since it was introduced in June, appealing the DDRB’s decision through the Downtown Investment Authority and City Council. 

When the DDRB upheld its original decision Dec. 12, GV-IP took the appeal to court for a final decision.

No hearing date has been set. 

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