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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Nov. 18, 202008:50 PM EST

DIA wants the Landing to start with a park 

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CEO Lori Boyer expects to issue the RFP on Jan. 1.
by: Mike Mendenhall Staff Writer

The Downtown Investment Authority wants to secure designs for a minimum 4.5-acre public park at the former Jacksonville Landing site before putting the remaining property on the market for development.

The DIA filed a draft request for proposals to the city Procurement Division for review that solicits designs for park space at the site’s St. Johns riverfront area and Laura Street corridor, according to CEO Lori Boyer. 

At the DIA board’s Nov. 18 meeting, Boyer outlined plans to create three design teams to generate options for the vacant city-owned green space at 2 Independent Drive W.

In an interview Nov. 11, Boyer said the DIA is prioritizing public space at what the city now is calling “Riverfront Plaza.”

“I don’t want to put those (development parcels) into the marketplace until we have some preliminary design done on the public space,” she said. “I don’t want it to just be a lawn of a private space.”

Boyer said each design team would include a landscape architect, artist, urban designer or architect and be given a stipend to complete a proposal.

Their work products would be evaluated. “There would be public input and that would be the opportunity to decide which one we would want to build,” Boyer said at the Nov. 18 meeting. 

DIA staff hopes to issue the RFP on Jan. 1.

The DIA contracted real estate firm CBRE and national urban design and marketing firm Streetsense to help public officials “evaluate what minimum functional pad sizes would be considered viable for an office building, for a hotel, for residential,” Boyer said.

The property is 5.97 acres, but Boyer said more space will be available for development after the city’s proposed demolition with the adjacent Main Street Bridge on-ramp connects the property with a 1.67-acre public parking lot to the east.

Boyer said after the DIA board has selected the public park design, staff would issue an RFP for commercial development.

The city completed demolition of the two-story, 178,838-square-foot shopping mall in May. It operated at the site for 32 years.

The city contracted D.H. Griffin Wrecking Co. Inc. to take down the closed Downtown retail marketplace for $1,074,002.

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

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

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