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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Sep. 21, 202205:27 PM EST

DIA approves $36.9 million deal for American Lions' proposed 44-story tower

The incentives package for the estimated $166.6 million residential and retail high-rise at the former Landing still needs City Council approval.
by: Mike Mendenhall Associate Editor

A $36.93 million incentives package for American Lions LLC’s proposed 44-story residential tower at the former Jacksonville Landing is headed to City Council.

The incentives are up $1.05 million from the package presented to the DIA board committee Sept 15. 

The Downtown Investment Authority voted 6-0 on Sept. 21 to approve the deal that would partially finance the New York City-based developer’s proposed $166.6 million project.  

American Lions is a joint venture of Fetner Properties and the Lions Group.

American Lions and international architect Bjarke Ingels Group are pitching a 480-foot-tall tower with 332 apartments, 15,000 square feet for resident amenities, 5,000 square feet of outdoor terrace space open to the public and 31,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. 

American Lions and international architect Bjarke Ingels Group are pitching a 480-foot-tall tower with 332 apartments.

It will integrate with a new Riverfront Plaza, the park that will take up most of the former Landing space.

The incentives include the discounted payback on a $27.5 million construction loan to be repaid over 20 years with one 10-year extension option. 

The board approved the deal as part of the meeting’s consent agenda. 

The majority of the city investment would be from a property tax refund, cash completion grant and land.

Before the vote Sept. 21, DIA CEO Lori Boyer gave a more complete breakdown of the loan payout and payback at the request of board members, which showed an increase to the incentives total. 

Board member Todd Froats said Sept. 15 he thought the previous summary overstated the amount of city incentives by including a loan that would be paid back to the city.

In all, the DIA is covering $2.39 million of the loan, according to the latest breakdown provided by Boyer.

She told the board American Lions would have a present value payoff on the loan of $8.57 million and interest at $17.87 million. 

That means the developer would pay back $26.45 million. 

The incentive attached to the loan includes $1.344 million in interest payments covered by DIA plus another $1.05 million net incentive. 

That increases the previously reported $35.88 million in incentives to $36.93 million. 

A $36.93 million incentives package for American Lions is moving to City Council.

Here’s how the rest of the incentives package breaks down: 

• A Recapture Enhanced Value Grant capped at $28.557 million in the form of a 20-year, 75% property tax refund.

• A $2.5 million completion grant based on the Sky Garden Terrace paid after the tower is substantially complete.

• The land appraised at $3.48 million.

The term sheet allows for the city to provide a larger construction loan, capped at $29 million. 

The deal says American Lions would have to receive final design approval by the Downtown Development Review Board by June 1, 2024, and start construction by Sept. 1, 2024. 

American Lions would have until Dec. 31, 2027, to finish construction.

Boyer will now take the DIA resolution to the Mayor’s Budget Review Committee to approve filing legislation with Council. 

The DIA board also unanimously approved an access agreement during the meeting so American Lions can start geological testing and surveys of the site before the Council debates and approves the agreement. 

The building’s proposed physical connection to the 7-acre park at the former Landing, now Riverfront Plaza, is the most important part of the tower design, according to DIA and city officials.

Council is poised to approve $25 million Sept. 27 for the park’s construction as part of the fiscal year 2022-23 city Capital Improvement Plan. 

Boyer said that’s enough money to fully fund the work. The city hopes to start soliciting construction bids by January 2023 and start construction no later than June.

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