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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Aug. 8, 201905:10 AM EST

Curry: Metropolitan Park not headed to Landing

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The city must find a replacement site for the park if it is taken for redevelopment.
by: Mike Mendenhall Staff Writer

The Jacksonville Landing will not be designated as federal parkland to replace Metropolitan Park, said Mayor Lenny Curry.

According to Curry, relocating the designation of the federally controlled park at 1410 Gator Bowl Blvd. has not been a part of his conversations about the Landing site after the closed riverfront shopping mall’s demolition is complete by May.

“That is not happening. I can say that I don’t have the plan, nor have I discussed a plan, to move Met Park to the Jacksonville Landing,” Curry said Aug. 1.

Metropolitan Park is adjacent to the Shipyards property and across Gator Bowl Boulevard from Lot J at TIAA Bank Field.

Metropolitan Park is across the street from the Lot J development next to TIAA Bank Field and Daily's Place. (City of Jacksonville photo)

Those sites are planned for redevelopment by Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan and the park property appears in project renderings.

Speculation that city officials see the Landing as a suitable replacement site for Metropolitan Park began at least in June 2018, before the city took ownership of the Landing from Sleiman Enterprises in a $15 million lawsuit settlement.

At that time, a rendering from the city’s Parks and Recreation Department surfaced that showed an urban park at the center of a redeveloped Jacksonville Landing site at 2 Independent Drive W.

The image was made public two months after Khan released a $2.5 billion vision for Lot J and the Shipyards that included structures in Metropolitan Park. 

Metropolitan Park is restricted by the National Park Service. If the city wants to develop the land, it must find a suitable replacement site.

Renderings released last week of Lot J and Khan’s proposed Shipyards development show a high-rise and another structure at Metropolitan Park.

A rendering from the city’s Parks and Recreation Department surfaced that showed an urban park at the center of a redeveloped Jacksonville Landing site.

 Curry said discussions with Khan’s developers center on which property — the park or the Shipyards — is more suitable for development “based on environmental issues.”

“To the Shipyards, right now they’re conceptual conversations,” Curry said. “You’d have to have an alternative site (for Metropolitan Park). It’s too early to cross that bridge.”

The Shipyards was an operating industrial shipyard for about 140 years, closing in 1992. 

TriLegacy Group LLC purchased the Shipyards in 1999, but failed to bring a mixed-use development to the site that comprised high-rise condominiums, a hotel, restaurants and public space.

LandMar Group LLC took over a scaled-back Shipyards project in 2005, completing $19.5 million of public improvements focused on the St. Johns River bulkhead and core infrastructure, but dropped the project after defaulting on its mortgage agreement with the city.

In 2015, Khan offered an initial plan for the Shipyards that included 100,000 square feet of commercial space, 662 residential units, 350 hotel rooms and a possible home for the decommissioned destroyer USS Adams as a museum.

Khan was named master developer of the Shipyards in 2017.

The project did not secure the naval ship and Khan shifted toward a broader $2.5 billion plan to develop both Lot J and the Shipyards, first detailed in April 2018.

For Metropolitan Park, Khan proposed a convention center and hotel.

City Council and Curry set the stage for development of either property earlier this year. Ordinance 2018-770, enacted Jan. 8, rezoned Metropolitan Park and the Shipyards to Commercial Central Business District (CCBD), allowing for high-rise and commercial development.

It also depends on removal of the Hart Bridge ramp into Downtown awaiting the final construction design by the Florida Department of Transportation.

Bid deadline for old Armory extended 

The deadline for proposals to develop the former Florida National Guard Armory was extended to Aug. 14 by the city’s Procurement Department.

The city published a request for proposals July 3 seeking bids from developers to buy the 2.02-acre site at 851 N. Market St., with an option to redevelop an adjacent 2.97-acre property at 928 N. Liberty St.

The building has been empty for nine years.

CityAssistant Director of Public Affairs James Croft did not indicate why the bid deadline was extended from July 31.

According to the RFP, the city also might consider a long-term lease with a developer.

Designated a local historic landmark by City Council in 2001, the three-story, 80,826-square-foot Gothic Revival-style armory was constructed in 1908.

The building and land on North Market Street are valued about $2.8 million, according to the Duval County Property Appraiser.

The optional property on North Liberty Street comprises three stucco warehouses with 21,594 square feet of usable space.

The optional property and buildings are valued at $653,600.

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