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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Jan. 12, 202112:51 PM EST

DIA to consider applications from Regions Bank, Vista Brooklyn Apartments

The bank wants to preserve its building Downtown; apartment developers want to support retail along Riverside Avenue.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

Regions Bank is seeking $1.1 million in city grants and assistance for the $2.633 million rehabilitation and preservation of its headquarters building Downtown at 51 W. Bay St.

The Downtown Investment Authority’s Strategic Implementation Committee will consider the request at its meeting at 10 a.m. Jan. 14 at the Main Library Conference Center.

The request comprises $900,000 from the Downtown Preservation and Rehabilitation Program and a $200,000 economic development grant.

The property, the historic Old Bisbee Building, was constructed in 1909. It is considered one of the most historic properties in Downtown for its contribution to the resurgence of the city following the Great Fire of 1901 and its architecture.

The site was recommended for local landmark status by the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Committee on Oct. 28 and is under consideration for final designation by the City Council under Ordinance 2020-0728.

The bank approached the DIA with interest in the preservation and rehabilitation program in conjunction with plans for bringing the property back to more historic standards and other improvements to preserve and maintain the integrity of the structure.

The five-year capital plan for the property begins with window replacement and exterior renovations to remove plant growth and better seal the structure against weather and elements. 

Future phases will focus on code compliance to make the property more accessible and functional as part of Regions’ growth strategy in the Jacksonville market, states the staff report about the request.

“Improvements made to this Property are deemed instrumental to the DIA redevelopment goals and objectives for Downtown Jacksonville related to protecting and revitalizing historic assets through creation of public private partnerships,” according to the report.

Regions requests $200,000 as an economic development grant for costs associated with the sale of a surface parking lot adjacent to the headquarters building.

The negotiated sale of the lot to VyStar Credit Union is part of plans for a parking garage along Forsyth Street between Main and Laura streets being constructed under a redevelopment agreement executed with the city July 15 as authorized by Ordinance 2020-0073-E.

A parking agreement with VyStar will make 250 spaces available to the city for the benefit of retail businesses. However, construction of the parking garage will block existing Regions’ signage.

In negotiating and closing on the sale, Regions incurred legal fees in addition to other costs related to the planning, design and implementation of new signs to mitigate the impact of the garage. Regions also anticipates costs related to the temporary parking requirements for employees and customers that will be eligible for reimbursement under the match funding terms of the agreement. 

The grant would be used for construction of back door access to the garage as well as moving signage. The funding will require verification of expenses incurred and inspection of work. 

As a grant, the award is fully earned on receipt without the need for amortization or clawback provisions.

The proposed new Regions’ signage received a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission on Oct. 28. Plans for branding, sign design and placement were presented to the Downtown Development Review Board, which issued final approval Oct. 12.

The costs associated with the negotiation and closing on the sale of the surface lot, costs incurred for temporary parking, the addition of back door access and the design and implementation of the signage strategy are expected to exceed $400,000, the report said.

Vista Brooklyn Apartments at 200 Riverside Ave.

Vista Brooklyn

The committee also will consider an application for a 10-year, $1,556,000 Recapture Enhanced Value Grant for the Vista Brooklyn Apartments at 200 Riverside Ave.

The developer is HP-DBG 200 Riverside LLC, comprising Hallmark Partners and Bristol Development Group.

The project includes 308 Class A apartments with a wellness studio and fitness center on the first floor, a latte lounge on the second floor, an indoor-outdoor pet spa on the eighth floor, and a rooftop swimming pool and club area with a beer garden and gaming areas on the 10th floor.

Also in the design is nearly 13,000 square feet of retail space fronting Riverside Avenue.

According to the staff report, the developers are seeking the additional grant to mitigate the negative effect on retail because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The property is being constructed under an existing redevelopment agreement approved in 2017. That agreement calls for a mixed-use development with no fewer than 295 residential units and not less than 12,750 square feet of retail space, supported in part by a $9 million, 20-year REV Grant authorized by Ordinance 2017-0101-E.

Other business

Also on the committee’s agenda are applications to revise the term sheet for Related Group’s proposed mixed-use project along the Southbank and a grant application for the Baptist Convention and Federal Reserve buildings project.

Details on those action items will be released Jan. 13, according to DIA.

The meeting, open to the public, will be conducted in-person with COVID-19 protocols in the multipurpose room at the Main Library Conference Center and remotely at: 

Meeting ID: 926 2888 2896

Passcode: 284239 

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