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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Jan. 19, 202105:10 AM EST

DIA to start search Jan. 20 for firms to design park at former Jacksonville Landing site 

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Three companies each will receive up to $125,000 to submit plans to compete for the winning bid.
by: Mike Mendenhall Staff Writer

The Downtown Investment Authority will issue a request for proposals Jan. 20 for public park space designs at the former Jacksonville Landing, according to CEO Lori Boyer. 

The Professional Services Evaluation Committee of the city Procurement Division approved the DIA’s plan Jan. 14 to select three firms that will submit designs for a minimum 4.5-acre riverfront park/plaza.

A Jan. 11 memorandum Boyer sent to city Procurement Division Chief Greg Pease outlines the DIA’s two-phase plan to spend up to $375,000 to solicit design options for the public space in what’s now renamed “Riverfront Plaza.” 

Boyer’s memo echoes her previous position that the DIA should decide the site’s public park component before the remainder of the city-owned property is put on the market for private development.

Work to demolish the former Jacksonville Landing marketplace and sod the 5.97-acre site was completed in May. The riverfront mall occupied the property for 32 years before it was closed.

“While the DIA intends to solicit private development proposals for two smaller sites in the corners adjacent to Water Street/Independent Drive, this design of the public park/plaza should occur first in order to prioritize its importance and to guide the design of future adjacent development,” states the scope of services documents attached to the memo.

An aerial view of the former Jacksonville Landing site. (City of Jacksonville photo)

More land will be available for development after the city’s proposed demolition of the adjacent Main Street Bridge on-ramp connects the property with a 1.67-acre public parking lot to the east.

Boyer’s memo says the DIA and city procurement staff will choose three firms to complete 50% design drawings for a “vibrant and iconic public space on the premier waterfront site in Downtown Jacksonville.” 

Each firm will be provided a $100,000 to $125,000 stipend to submit a 50% design. According to the memo, the design teams must comprise an artist, landscape architect and at least one professional with park programming and “place-making” experience.

The stipend’s $125,000 ceiling is an increase from the $100,000 shown in a preliminary draft RFP obtained Nov. 18.

The firms will be required to submit a detailed site plan; renderings including all public buildings or structures; hardscape and landscape park features; a probable cost estimate; park programming for each space; and a narrative explanation of how the design is “representative of Jacksonville and its unique attributes and residents.”

Boyer said the DIA wants view corridors from Laura Street to the river and public art pieces to be an integral part of the design.

The city has not set a budget for building the park.

 The DIA plans to return to the committee with the three-firm shortlist for approval by March 25, according to the memo.

The design proposals are expected to take 10 weeks to deliver and the DIA will select the winner by Sept. 30, according to the memo.

The city’s fiscal year 2021-22 budget includes money to replace the St. Johns River bulkhead at the Landing site and the draft DIA documents state the city is considering realigning Water Street and Independent Drive to create more space for the park/plaza.

City Council approved $225,000 in September 2019 as part of the 2019-20 Capital Improvement Plan to pay for a marketing analysis for the property.

Mayor Lenny Curry’s administration budgeted an additional $2 million for the Landing by fiscal year 2021-22 for preengineering, engineering and landscape work on the Landing’s public space.

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