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A street-level rendering of Healthy Town, the planned mixed-use community along the Southbank. The concept focuses on healthy 
living from groups of all ages.
Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Aug. 26, 201512:00 PM EST

DIA to vote on Healthy Town; developers release renderings, plan naming contest

by: David Chapman

The project that could transform the Southbank is making healthy progress.

Healthy Town, the current moniker for the large mixed-use project led by Peter Rummell and Mike Balanky, seeks approval today from the Downtown Investment Authority for the development rights on the former JEA Southside Generating Station.

In effect, it means the development plan submitted by Elements Development of Jacksonville — Rummell’s group — works with Downtown’s business improvement plan.

The development rights granted would mean Elements could proceed with its ideas for Phase I of the three-phase project.

The initial phase calls for 500 residential units, 200 hotel rooms, 94,400 square feet of commercial and retail offerings and 200,000 square feet of office space. Phase II and III are smaller — 200 residential units and 100,000 square feet total of commercial and retail for part two and 470 residential units and 94,100 square feet of commercial and retail for the final phase.

A news release from Elements this morning showed renderings and described the guiding principles for Healthy Town. They include:

• Unintentional exercise, with a design that encourages walkability.

• “Gen H,” a community of all ages that embrace health living.

• “Base Camp,” a community focal point where “hardware and software integrate harmoniously.” The news release refers to it as a “breakthrough alternative” to traditional clubhouses and town centers. “A concierge on steroids,” it said.

• A proposed marina with public and private access and up to 125 slips. Additionally, it would feature a water taxi stop.

• The extension of the Southbank Riverwalk.

• Riverfront restaurants and bars with public access, “a non-gated community” with a focus on the riverfront.

“Places in which people live, work and play affect their mental and physical well-being,” said Rummell in the release. “When a community is designed to go beyond the requisite bike paths and fitness centers … positive results are sure to emerge — for both the individual and development in general.”

The resolution being presented to the DIA board for approval does not include any mention of taxpayer incentives.

“We’re not at that step yet,” said DIA CEO Aundra Wallace.

Wallace said there haven’t been discussions of that kind yet, either. But, items like improving infrastructure such as the Southbank Riverwalk naturally have come up. Wallace said JEA has taken a major step toward that end by remediating the site of environmental concerns.

Wallace said Elements is still in the process of closing on the property. Yet, he believes some form of an incentives package could come to light by the end of the year. Horizontal construction is a goal for next year.

“I like the pace that this is moving,” said Wallace.

Consider the rights agreement as almost a precursor to a development agreement, which requires much more oversight and approval.

Once a development agreement comes forth, the DIA, City Council and, ultimately Mayor Lenny Curry, would weigh in on the deal.

Lori Boyer, a DIA council liaison to the board, said she was briefed on the project Tuesday afternoon and nothing seemed out of the ordinary at this point. She said she looked forward to seeing a development agreement come to council.

“It’s consistent with what they’ve been saying they’ve wanted to do,” said Boyer.

In January, the JEA board approved the sale price of the 28.6 acre site for $18.6 million to Elements.

And while it’s called Healthy Town for the moment, Elements is searching for a new name — and wants the community’s help. It’s launched a naming contest at its website for suggestions.

The development team will review such entries and make a selection by mid-September, with the winner being publicly acknowledged with a site marker during the grand opening and a free one-year membership to the future Base Camp.

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