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Jax Daily Record Friday, May 27, 202202:10 PM EST

Fincantieri Marine Repair starts construction on improvements Downtown

The $30 million shipyards repair and a new dry dock will result in more than 300 jobs.

Fincantieri Marine Repair ceremonially broke ground May 27 at its St. Johns River Commodores Point location Downtown.

Fincantieri said it is investing more than $30 million to improve the marine infrastructure including preparatory work to accommodate a 500-foot dry dock.

The dry dock will give the shipyard the capability to perform extensive maintenance work on larger military, government and commercial vessels as early as next year, the company said.

 “Before we opened our facility in January of this year, we were planning extensive renovations primarily to allow for a large, Navy-certified dry dock which enables us to do more in-depth repair work on naval and large commercial vessels, and today we are one step closer to seeing this become a reality,” said Ryan Smith, Fincantieri Marine Repair CEO, in the release.

“We continue to work with local and state officials every step of the way,” he said.

Fincantieri has pledged to add more than 300 jobs.

U.S. Rep. John Rutherford attended the ceremony. 

“We are so proud to have you here, and we look forward to working with you to make your vision become a reality,” he said in the release.

Smith presented illustrations of the future shipyard, which is about a mile from Downtown Jacksonville and close to TIAA Bank Field, home of the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars.

Italy-based Fincantieri Group, an international shipbuilder, operates in the United States through its subsidiary Fincantieri Marine Systems North America.

Fincantieri Marine Repair LLC is a part of that.

The company serves commercial and government customers in the U.S., including the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and Military Sealift Command in Virginia, Florida, Japan and Bahrain.

Fincantieri Marine Repair has asked the city for a $1.5 million tax incentive for its project, whose street address is 2060 E. Adams St.

It told city officials it will invest $29 million in the facility between the Mathews and Hart bridges where the company says it will repair and conduct maintenance on ships and large vessels.

According to the DIA term sheet released April 7, Fincantieri Marine Repair is responsible for paying any incremental property tax increases as a condition of its long-term lease agreement with Commodores Point Properties Ltd. for the 31-acre site.

The term sheet says the base property value before the Fincantieri improvements is estimated at almost $5.5 million. 

That makes the marine maintenance company eligible for the city tax incentive.

The Recapture Enhanced Value Grant, which is an ad valorem property tax refund, would be 50% over 10 years, the term sheet says.

Following the approval by the DIA board in April, the authority staff is working on finalizing the redevelopment agreement so it can present it to the Mayor’s Budget Review Committee and initiate the legislation for consideration of approval by City Council, according to Steve Kelley, DIA director of Downtown Real Estate and Development.

This would not be the only city incentive awarded to the Fincantieri operation. 

Council adopted a resolution in May 2020 to execute a development agreement with what was then code-named Project Academy for a Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund grant of $1.5 million, or $5,000 a job. 

The deal had $300,000 from the city and the remainder from the state.

Eric Dent, Fincantieri director of communications, said Jan. 13 that the company will bring more than 300 jobs to Downtown Jacksonville.

William Colledge, vice president of operations at Commodores Point Properties, said in a Jan. 24 email that the two companies will make a joint investment in the waterfront infrastructure.

Fincantieri Marine Systems N.A. Business Development and Sales Coordinator Megan Michal Ehlers said in February that the property has been operating as a shipyard for more than 30 years. 

North Florida Shipyards previously leased and operated the site as a ship repair and conversion since 1977.

Headquartered in Genova, Italy, Fincantieri Group’s U.S. operation is based in Chesapeake, Virginia. 

Associate Editor Mike Mendenhall contributed to this report.

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