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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Feb. 26, 201912:01 PM EST

$36 million incentives deal to turn Berkman II into entertainment center going to City Council

The project to transform Downtown riverfront site is estimated at $122 million.
by: Scott Sailer Staff Writer

The Downtown Investment Authority and 500 East Bay LLC are seeking City Council approval of a development agreement to provide $36 million in incentives for developers to convert the partially constructed Berkman II condominium along the Downtown Northbank into an entertainment center.

The project is estimated at $122 million. Ordinance 2019-151 is scheduled to be introduced Tuesday.

500 East Bay LLC plans to design, build and renovate the partially built 17-story Berkman II into a 340-room hotel and add a water park, indoor and outdoor family entertainment amenities, parking garage and Northbank Riverwalk improvements along the property's riverfront.

The city would deed 2.8 acres adjacent to the east side of the 2.02- acre Berkman II parcel to the developers as part of the deal.

The LLC is led by Florida-based owner Robert Ohde and Wisconsin-based manager Rhinelander Rentals LLC.

According to the agreement:

• The city would deed 2.8 acres adjacent to the east side of the 2.02 acre Berkman II parcel for $584,000 per acre, totaling $1,635,200. The city will give a $1 million credit against the purchase price as an environmental offset for cleanup.

• The developer would construct, at the city’s expense, certain Riverwalk improvements to be owned by the city.

• The developer would provide 200 short-term public parking spaces.

• The city would provide a $3.5 million parking garage grant payable upon completion of the garage.

• The city would provide a $3.25 million grant payable upon completion of the project.

• The city would provide a $8.25 million operational performance grant payable over 15 years after project completion.

• The city would provide a Recapture Enhanced Value grant up to $20 million for project costs.

The agreement includes provisions to authorize the sale of city-owned property without an appraisal at less than fair market value, designating DIA to monitor the development agreement, provide funding for the Riverwalk extension and providing city oversight of the project.

The agreement is intended to support DIA’s Downtown redevelopment goals, enhance Downtown’s unique “epicenter for business, history, culture, education and entertainment” and “improve walkability and connectivity.”



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