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Jax Daily Record Friday, Jan. 26, 200712:00 PM EST

DRC approves

by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

by Max Marbut

Staff Writer

The revitalization of the Brooklyn area along Riverside Avenue moved a step closer to fruition Thursday afternoon when the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission’s Design Review Committee approved the conceptual plan for Hallmark Partners’ mixed-use project that will combine residential, retail and office space across Riverside Avenue from the St. Joe Building and the Yates YMCA.

Jason Faulkner from Looney Ricks Kiss Architects presented the renderings and elevations for the project that includes two towers with more than 19,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space underneath 250 residential units plus an eight-story office tower with an additional 148,000 square feet of office, retail and restaurant space. The two elements will surround an 891-space shared parking garage that will be hidden from view when traveling on Riverside Avenue.

The residential element on the south end of the design is contemporary in design, while the commercial structure on the north end has a more traditional look.

“We studied where Jacksonville has been and where it is going. We believe the project will become the catalyst for the redevelopment of Brooklyn and create a better connection between Riverside and the central business district Downtown,” said Faulkner.

City Council member Suzanne Jenkins commented that the design struck her as having a, “modern Klutho prairie look.”

Faulkner said LRK also proposes possibly connecting the project across Riverside Avenue to the Riverwalk with a park on land that is owned by the City.

When questioned by committee members about the large amount of space available for retail and restaurants in the design, Alex Coley from Hallmark Partners said, “having the restaurants and lots of retail is essential to create vibrancy and drive interest in Downtown. Having that much retail and restaurant space is also essential to the neighborhood and to the project.”

The conceptual design also accommodates possible future expansion of the JTA Skyway from Downtown along Riverside Avenue to the Five Points area and a JTA trolley stop.

The committee also granted final approval to close portions of Oak and Leila streets to further development opportunities as part of the Brooklyn Neighborhood Strategy Plan.

Final approval was also granted to the Hyatt Regency Riverfront Hotel’s plan to enclose the ground floor of its parking garage along Newnan Street, Coastline Drive and Independent Drive with a permanent wrought iron decorative fence to replace the temporary chain-link installation currently in place.

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