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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Nov. 19, 201412:00 PM EST

Deutsche Bank focuses site search in Southside area


After another trip to London and another gathering of city and corporate leaders, speculation continues about where Deutsche Bank might land a major consolidated office campus in Jacksonville.

Southside, specifically the Gate Parkway area, continues to dominate the expectations.

As of early 2014, Deutsche Bank was interested in the Downtown Southbank JEA site, among other locations, in its site search.

That JEA site’s prospective developer, Peter Rummell, says he understands the financial services giant has turned its attention to property near St. Johns Town Center.

Rummell, who is negotiating to buy and develop the JEA site, said Monday he has heard that Deutsche Bank wants to make a deal for land near the Town Center, which is off Butler Boulevard and Gate Parkway.

Deutsche Bank now leases most of the Meridian Office Park at 5022 Gate Parkway.

“Since 2008, Jacksonville has been and will continue to be a key component of Deutsche Bank’s location footprint in the Americas,” said a Deutsche Bank spokeswoman. “We will continue to strategically invest in the region.”

She said the company declined comments about specific questions about a site search.

Rummell said he met with Deutsche Bank real estate executives eight or nine months ago about putting its offices on the JEA site.

However, he said, Deutsche Bank wanted to develop space with floor plates of 75,000 to 100,000 square feet, which was large for the almost 30-acre JEA site that included other uses.

“That doesn’t make sense on a site with these land costs,” Rummell said. He said that size project would work better on a suburban site.

Rummell and developer Mike Balanky want to buy the JEA property to develop the health-oriented “Healthy Town.” Rummell said he hopes to have a contract from JEA this week and complete a deal in 60 days.

Rummell said he and Balanky could potentially develop a five- to eight-story office building with 25,000-square-foot floors, bringing the total size up to 200,000 square feet.

“If they (Deutsche Bank) could do business in a normal 25,000-square-foot office floor plate, then obviously we would be thrilled to talk to them, but the other numbers would never work,” he said.

Rummell said he and Balanky haven’t revisited with Deutsche Bank.

“I am assuming they are going out by Town Center, but if they wanted a vertical solution, we would be happy to talk,” he said.

In any event, Rummell said the JEA site as Healthy Town should be attractive for office users.

“Five years from now it will be the coolest office site in town,” he said.

Mayor Alvin Brown and Jacksonville economic-development officials called on Deutsche Bank executives in London again this year as they traveled there the first week of November for a second annual home-season Jacksonville Jaguars games.

“We have had productive discussions with Deutsche Bank, including recently in London, where senior executives expressed that they are pleased with the work being done in Jacksonville,” Brown said Tuesday in a statement.

“The company has shown a great commitment to our city.  We are looking forward to Deutsche Bank’s next step, wherever that may be,” he said.

The bank is based in Germany. Among the executives at the London meeting was Leslie Slover, regional head of Deutsche Bank in Jacksonville and Cary, N.C.

Brown said bank executives did not share information about the anticipated Jacksonville consolidation and expansion.

Deutsche Bank has about 1,400 jobs in Jacksonville.

The bank started operations in Jacksonville in 2008 and has expanded to lease at least 300,000 square feet in the suburbs, focusing on the five-building, single-story Meridian Business Park and in other multistory structures.

The company is expected to grow its local workforce to at least 1,600-1,800 employees by the end of 2016.

Real estate observers have been trying to figure out if Deutsche Bank will retain its leased space and expand from there or will consolidate the existing office space into a new business park developed for it.

Deutsche Bank could pursue a project on land near Meridian, in another suburban office park or on other property. It also could continue to lease office space as needed.

If it built a park, it would be one of the largest developments in years. At a basic construction cost of $150 to $200 a square foot, a project could cost $45 million to $60 million at 300,000 square feet.

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