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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Nov. 7, 201903:40 PM EST

DIA seeking buyer who will relocate Fire Station No. 5

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The vacant station is in the way of a plan to improve access to the new FIS headquarters planned adjacent to the property.
by: Mike Mendenhall Staff Writer

The Downtown Investment Authority is looking for a buyer to relocate the vacant Fire Station No. 5 building in Brooklyn. 

The move will clear the property for a street realignment to provide better access to the $145 million FIS headquarters proposed adjacent to the structure along the St. Johns River.

The DIA board will consider a resolution Wednesday issuing a 30-day notice of disposition to sell and relocate the 7,152 square-foot structure at 347 Riverside Ave. 

Fire Station No. 5 was built in 1910 and was used until 2008 when the city relocated the service to 234 Forest St.

City Council approved legislation Aug. 27 appropriating $2.6 million for the city to purchase the fire station property and an adjacent lot to the north from FIS-related company Fidelity National Financial Inc. 

City officials say the 1.21 acres will be used to realign Forest Street across Riverside Avenue with the two parcels, providing improved access to the FIS headquarters, any future riverfront development and Sidney J. Gefen Riverwalk Park.

A third adjoining 4½-acre parcel is the site for the future FIS headquarters. It’s now a surface parking lot owned by Florida Blue.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and FIS CEO Gary Norcross announced Nov. 1 that FIS will build a $145 million, 12-story, 300,000-square-foot world headquarters at 323 Riverside Ave. and create 500 jobs.

The future FIS headquarters, now a surface parking lot owned by Florida Blue, is planned to be build adjacent to the fire station.

FIS will buy the property from Florida Blue by the end of the first quarter and break ground by the second quarter.

Hines, a privately owned global real estate firm based in Houston, will serve as the development manager. Los Angeles-based Gensler is the architect.

Anyone interested in purchasing the fire station will have to provide DIA officials with a lease or ownership of a new location for the structure, “preferably within the Brooklyn/Riverside neighborhood,” the notice states. 

The DIA said it desires to see the structure relocated, rehabilitated and preserved.

The DIA set a March 1 deadline to remove the building. If a buyer cannot be found, the fire station likely will be demolished, according to DIA documents.

The resolution allows potential buyers to request city funding to assist with a proposal. However, they would have to submit a business plan that includes business operating experience, expected return on investment and projected tax revenue to the city.

The proposal must also include: 

• A building purchase price.

• A cost estimate for relocation signed by a company or contractor.

• Demonstration of financial capacity to relocate the fire station.

• Acknowledgment that no development rights are included in the notice.

• A $5,000 “good faith” cashier’s check or money order.

FIS parking

As the city and DIA work to improve traffic flow and access to the FIS headquarters, city officials are negotiating with the company to provide public parking at its planned garage.

DIA CEO Lori Boyer said Thursday that the Forest Street/Riverside Avenue realignment will leave a 25- to 30-foot strip of surplus property abutting the FIS parking garage. 

Fire Station No. 5 was built in 1910 and was used until 2008 when the city relocated the service to 234 Forest St.

The DIA board also will vote on a resolution Wednesday that issues a 30-day notice of disposition accepting offers for the strip of land. If the DIA doesn’t receive a better offer, the resolution would sell the property to FIS for $1 in exchange for the public parking access.

The deal would provide the city with no fewer than 125 public parking spaces on the ground floor of the FIS garage. The surplus land would allow FIS to expand its planned parking garage, Boyer said. 

The 20-year agreement would open the garage for general public use after 6 p.m. and all day on weekends and holidays.

The parking structure is part of FIS’s $29.9 million development agreement with the city and state, but details on the garage size have not been released. Boyer said Thursday she has not seen plans for the garage.

Norcross said Nov. 1 all three Jacksonville FIS facilities will be consolidated into the new headquarters, placing approximately 1,716 employees at the site.

FIS expects to complete construction in June 2022. FIS has been in Jacksonville for more than 15 years. Because of its $43 billion acquisition July 31 of Worldpay Inc., it needs more space.

Boyer said civil engineering firm England, Thims & Miller Inc., contracted for the street realignment, should have designs for the street realignment complete within the next 30 days. 

“Our focus has been pushing to get the street designed so when they (FIS) have an office building they have a street,” Boyer said.

The DIA board is scheduled to meet at 1 p.m. in the Lynwood Roberts Room at City Hall, 117 W. Duval St.

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