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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Apr. 13, 202208:50 PM EST

DIA working with private land owner to relocate marine fire station

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The deal would help clear the way for Jaguars' owner Shad Khan's plans for a Four Seasons hotel at the former Kids Kampus site.
by: Mike Mendenhall Associate Editor

The city Downtown Investment Authority is moving toward a land swap deal with a private developer to relocate a marine fire station at the former Kids Kampus. 

The move would ready the site for Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan’s proposed Four Seasons hotel-anchored riverfront development.

The DIA board Retail Enhancement and Property Disposition Committee voted 4-0 on April 13 to issue a 30-day notice of disposition for a 5.12-acre portion of a city-owned retention pond property east of the WJCT Public Media headquarters.

The developer and landowner, AR Polar Jacksonville LLC, expressed interest in the site, according to documents attached to the DIA resolution.

In exchange, AR Polar would give the city a 1.65-acre piece in the southwest corner of the parcel, including some submerged lands, to relocate the marine fire station from Kids Kampus.

The city also has been negotiating with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection on another land swap deal needed to allow private development on Kids Kampus. 

A 36-year-old FDEP grant intended to fund marina work on the St. Johns River put a development restriction on Kids Kampus. City officials have proposed  a 9-acre park on the western portion of the Shipyards to satisfy the grant. 

Under a proposed deal with AR Polar, the developer also would provide the city with a replacement property for the retention pond.

This sketch shows the potential future home of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department marine fire station east of the WJCT headquarters.

Filings with the state Division of Corporations show AR Polar is controlled by ARSR Jacksonville LLC. The companies share a Uniondale, New York, address and the filings list William Connolly as a title authorized person.  

AR Polar first registered as a company with the state of Florida in October 2007.

That address also is the corporate headquarters of Arbor Realty Trust Inc. where Connolly is listed on the company’s website as executive vice president and special counsel. 

The company is represented in Jacksonville by Rogers Towers attorney T.R. Hainline Jr.

According to the DIA and Duval County property records, AR Polar owns 20.37 acres at 1746 E. Adams St., east of the WJCT and southeast of TIAA Bank Field. 

A section of that property, which an exhibit in the DIA meeting packet shows beneath and north of the Hart Bridge Expressway Ramp, would be given to the city for the replacement pond.

DIA CEO Lori Boyer said the swap also would move the city retention pond further from the riverfront and make more property available for private development. 

The city agreed to relocate the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department marine fire station as part of its $114 million public incentives deal with Khan’s development company to bring the $321 million project to the Northbank riverfront.

According to the DIA, the parcel’s submerged land in the St. Johns River has to be a sufficient width and depth to accommodate marine fire vessels. The developer will have to provide public roadway access to the city as a term of the negotiated disposition.

The city retention pond site wanted by the AR Polar.

AR Polar plans not revealed 

A draft DIA term sheet refers to AR Polar Jacksonville as a developer, but the document does not say what the company plans to do with the property. 

Boyer said AR Polar has been in talks with the DIA for a while to acquire the retention pond and redevelop the site. She said the company has discussed potential uses with the DIA, but Boyer told the board she would not disclose the developer’s concept or the city’s appraised values of the properties unit the board considers the term sheet. 

That could happen as early as the May DIA board meeting.

Boyer said the cost to build a new retention pond would be about $3 million and the developer would be asked to pay for a part of the roadway construction.

According to Boyer, the city Department of Public Works told DIA officials that interconnected underground drainage infrastructure would allow the replacement retention pond to be built anywhere within a half-mile radius of the existing pond. 

Boyer said the could allow the city to reserve the replacement parcel from AR Polar for other uses.

“I didn’t want to put the cart before the horse and assume that we had a transaction with this particular developer until we’d gone through the disposition process,” Boyer said.

DIA board member David Ward said he was hesitant to move forward without knowing whether the deal was a financial benefit or loss for the city, although he voted to support the disposition. 

“This could be the world’s greatest idea, it could be a terrible deal for the city. I have no idea, depending on what the appraisals look like, the proposed use looks like, how we handle sharing cost of infrastructure,” Ward said. 

“Maybe it’s a great thing in concept (but) I’m struggling with the concreteness of it all right now.” 

The full DIA board is scheduled to take a final vote on the disposition at its April 20 meeting.

If the DIA does not receive another qualified offer for the property after the 30-day marketing period, Boyer and DIA staff will complete negotiations with AR Polar and bring a final term sheet back to the board for approval

The Four Seasons deal

According to Boyer, the DIA and Khan’s company, Iguana Investments Florida, expect to finalize closing documents in May for the Four Seasons development site at Kids Kampus. 

Khan plans to redevelop the city-owned Shipyards, which includes Kids Kampus, near TIAA Bank Field.

Iguana says the project will comprise a 176-room Four Seasons with 25 for-sale luxury condominiums, a full-service spa and restaurant; a 157,027-square-foot, six-story, Class A office building; a marina support building; and an extension of the Downtown Northbank Riverwalk and public space.

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