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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Sep. 12, 201911:26 AM EST

DIA to consider development scope for former courthouse, City Hall sites

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Terms for an 88 for-sale townhome development in LaVilla by Vestcor Companies also are up for consideration Wednesday.
by: Mike Mendenhall Staff Writer

There could be clarity on the future of the former Duval County Courthouse and City Hall sites after the Downtown Investment Authority meets Wednesday.

The DIA board will consider a resolution to approve the scope of a request for proposals to develop the vacant 8.3-acre green space at 220 and 330 E. Bay St., according to a meeting agenda released Thursday morning.

The board also could decide on a development timeline, scoring criteria for the request for proposals and marketing material promoting the Downtown riverfront property.

DIA officials said Thursday morning the agenda’s supporting documents that would contain the details were being compiled.

The city completed demolition and sodding the property in June.

CBRE Jacksonville, a commercial real estate services company, has been conducting a highest and best use analysis of the properties, and the city has been gathering information about existing easements and utility services.

DIA CEO Lori Boyer said in July the authority wants to put the sites on the market by October. She said at the time the request also will include a city-owned parcel east of the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront. 

The DIA wants the ground floor of any development on Bay Street to include restaurants, retail or entertainment uses that generate pedestrian traffic. Boyer says the site could help reach the JAX Chamber’s goal of 10,000 residents Downtown, a density she says will spur development in the urban core.

An artist's rendering of the Vestcor townhomes planned for LaVilla.

Terms for LaVilla Townhome site

The DIA board also is scheduled to vote on approval of a term sheet with Vestcor Companies for an 88-unit, single-family townhome development in Downtown’s LaVilla neighborhood.  

Vestcor won was awarded a bid Aug. 8 by the DIA to build two- and three-story townhomes, priced at $250,000, on city-owned property at Adams, Johnson, Lee and Forsyth streets. 

As part of the deal, the city will donate the development parcels to Vestcor, minus a $100 title transfer fee. 

In the bid, Vestcor officials said the company will donate $100,000 each for development of the LaVilla Heritage Trail and Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing Park near the townhome development.

Boyer told the board in August that Vestcor is in talks with DIA officials about adding retail space to the development and making design changes to some of the townhomes. That came after some board members said publicly they preferred the historically inspired and commercial elements of a competing bid for the site by Johnson Commons LLC.

The term sheet was not available as of Thursday morning.

Vestcor is active in Downtown’s growing multifamily housing market with its “Loft” brand apartments in LaVilla, units under development in Brooklyn and proposed in the Cathedral District.

When the Brooklyn project is completed, Vestcor will own 731 multifamily units Downtown and about 18,000 square feet of commercial space. Its “Lofts” brand apartments offer a mix of affordable and workforce housing.

The DIA Board will at 2 p.m. Wednesday in the Lynwood Roberts Room at City Hall, 117 W. Duval St.

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