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The Museum of Science and History has been located on the Southbank for decades.
Jax Daily Record Thursday, Feb. 18, 201612:00 PM EST

DIA to study city-owned site that includes MOSH and River City Brewing

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by: Carole Hawkins

The Downtown Investment Authority is looking for professional input on the best way to use the city-owned land at the very tip of the Southbank.

Wedged between the Main Street and Acosta bridges, the riverfront parcel includes tenants River City Brewing Co. and the Museum of Science and History.

What does DIA want to know?

“Have we totally maxed out that property in the right way just with River City Brewery being there and just with MOSH?” CEO Aundra Wallace said.

The DIA has asked the Urban Land Institute to conduct a TAP for the property. TAP stands for Technical Assistance Panel and is an advisory service ULI offers to help redevelop or revitalize districts.

ULI assembles eight or nine of its members for a two-day session to study a site. The group typically includes real estate developers, planners, engineers, an attorney and a government official. They interview stakeholders, tour the area, answer questions and at the end, give recommendations based on what DIA wants to address.

“We’ll tell them what the highest and best use is for the property and what they might want to do for future development,” ULI North Florida Executive Director Carolyn Clark said.

The two-day meeting is scheduled for March 29-30.

Wallace said one reason he’s looking at the Southbank property is because it is a public asset. The expectation is that improvements there could be a catalyst for development in the rest of the San Marco district.

The site already has several public amenities, including a boat ramp behind River City Brewing and Friendship Fountain, the 50-year-old attraction the city renovated for $3.1 million about five years ago.

MOSH Executive Director Maria Hane said she is looking forward to the ULI study and the museum plans to host the two-day meeting in March.

The 14-acre site has been master-planned before, but having ULI involved frees the process from an agenda.

“The big question for us will be, is this the best place for a civic building to be?” Hane said.

MOSH has been at the site for many years, but at some point, its building “may not take us into the future,” she said.

Anthony Candelino, co-owner of River City Brewing, was surprised by the news of the meeting, saying last week he hadn’t been contacted about it. The company purchased a 99-year ground lease for the property that started in 1998.

“We do have a great relationship with the city, but at the same time, we own it for another 82 years,” he said.

Parking or transportation improvements are fine. Redevelopment?

“They can come up with the greatest plan,” Candelino said. “But they can’t do anything to the property without us.”

Wallace is aware of the long-term lease.

Asked whether the panel might recommend displacing a tenant like River City Brewing or MOSH in favor of a higher use, he said, “Anything that takes place, you’re going to have to bring them to the table. So they will be at the table, they will be participating in this.”

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