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Jax Daily Record Friday, Jun. 14, 201904:33 PM EST

Downtown Investment Authority will take action to 'validate' CEO selection

Ashley Street shipping container apartment project could get development rights next week.
by: Mike Mendenhall Staff Writer

The Downtown Investment Authority will take action Wednesday to validate its choice of District 5 City Council member Lori Boyer as its next CEO after concerns were raised that the selection process could have violated Florida Sunshine Law.

The meeting agenda released Friday lists the item “validation of CEO selection.”

The action is in response to statements from two attorneys from the nonprofit First Amendment Foundation of Tallahassee and the Jacksonville Ethics Commission who said the anonymous scorecard ballots used to rank the three CEO finalists violated the state Sunshine Law.

The packet did not indicate what steps the board might take Wednesday, but DIA Interim CEO Brian Hughes said in a phone interview June 7 that action could include a roll call vote affirming the results of the scoring sheets.

Hughes maintains the May 15 vote did not violate the law. The board took a voice vote to enter a 30- to 60-day contract negotiation with Boyer.

Hughes argues the vote confirmed the scorecards, although it did not specifically reference the results.

The scorecards were released to the public but DIA members did not write their names on the cards.

Hughes is Mayor Lenny Curry's chief of staff and will become the city's chief administrative officer at the end of June.

An apartment community of shipping containers is planned for the Cathedral District area of Downtown.

Ashley Street shipping container apartments

The DIA will vote on a resolution granting development rights to Hoose A LLC for a $1.2 million project that retrofits 18 shipping containers into 320-square-foot apartments in the Downtown Cathedral District.

The property at 412 Ashley St. is held by JWB Real Estate, a company of Jacksonville developer Alex Sifakis.

The project received conceptual design approval May 9 from the Downtown Development Review Board.

Sifakis said units will rent for $550 per month and the design and build technique is the first of its kind in the United States.

Ventures Development Group LLC plans a 185-unit apartment development along Prudential Drive.

Southbank apartment development

Ventures Development Group LLC has come to an agreement with DIA staff on project deadline extensions for its plans to build a 185-unit apartment development along Prudential Drive, between the Eight Forty One Building and the Acosta Bridge.

The DIA board will vote on a resolution next week that would give Ventures until Dec. 31 to obtain title to the 2.9-acre property.

It also sets deadlines of March 1 for the company to obtain permits for vertical construction and Sept. 1, 2020, to begin vertical construction.

Ventures' design was approved by the DDRB in October after a lawsuit with an adjacent property owner forced the company to limit the scope of the project.

Ventures will extend the Southbank Riverwalk as a result of the lawsuit settlement and provide 55,000 square feet of open public space along the St. Johns River.

The DIA has extended Ventures a 20-year, $7.88 million Recapture Enhanced Value Grant for the project.

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