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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Sep. 12, 201905:59 PM EST

Former Downtown courthouse, City Hall sites branded ‘The Ford on Bay’

Terms released by the DIA give developers specific requirements for ground-level retail.
by: Mike Mendenhall Associate Editor

Proposed terms for developing the former Duval County Courthouse and City Hall properties released Thursday by the Downtown Investment Authority give detailed requirements on the amount of retail space expected at the site.

The DIA board will consider a resolution Wednesday to approve the scope of a request for proposals to develop the vacant 8.38-acre green space at 220, 330 E. Bay St. and adjacent land submerged under the St. Johns River —  now collectively named The Ford on Bay. 

The terms state that bids to develop one, two or all three of The Ford on Bay parcels will be accepted. However, the DIA will not accept a proposal to develop only the submerged parcel. 

If approved by the DIA board, the authority will issue the request for proposals Oct. 21 and award the project by Feb. 20.

A map of the Ford on Bay project site.

Marketing material created by firm CBRE Jacksonville for the DIA to lure developers to the project also was released Thursday. It provides a breakdown of each parcel — the former City Hall site at 2.39 acres; the former courthouse parcel at 5.99 acres; and submerged land on the St. Johns River at 3.1 acres.

DIA officials say the development will be mixed-use and could include office, open space and a hotel.

Where the term sheet is specific is in the amount of retail expected in the development. 

All buildings facing East Bay Street require “a vertical mix of uses” and ground-floor retail that include restaurants and merchants.

According to the DIA, 80% of East Bay Street buildings’ frontage at the site must be retail. Of that, 62.5% of the retail must be street level while the remaining required retail can be on the second floor.

The Ford on Bay project sits on the former site of the Duval County Courthouse and City Hall.

“At a minimum, the proposal shall include at least one semi-public use such as a sidewalk cafe or patio seating along Bay Street,” the terms state.

Both retail and multifamily residential will be required components of any proposal to build The Ford on Bay. The DIA will show preference to proposals with high-density residential, according to the terms, but there is no specific number of residential units.

DIA staff envisions the submerged parcel on the St. Johns River as a marina. Developers must include “a material number” of slips dedicated to visiting boaters and commercial vendors as part of their marina proposal.

Respondents also are required to indicate the number and size of the boat slips and which are for public or private use.

Developers interested in building on all three sites are required to have experience with a singular $120 million capital project of at least 650,000 square feet. 

Included in the DIA’s vote Wednesday will be consideration of a development timeline and scoring criteria for bids on the Downtown riverfront property.

The full bid timeline is as follows:

• Issue public bid notice: Oct. 21

• Preproposal conference: Nov. 5,

• Written questions from bidders due: Nov. 12

• Written answers from DIA due: Nov. 21

• Bids due: Jan. 21 

• Oral presentations for short-listed respondents: Jan. 30

The 8.38-acre Ford on Bay project site.

• Evaluation Committee recommendation to the scoring committee: Feb. 10

• DIA Board proposal selection: Feb. 19

• Award posted: Feb. 20

The DIA wants development to begin within 120 days of the property closing and “all phases must commence” within two years of that date.

CBRE created the name The Ford on Bay for its marketing material, stating “it is the site of former river crossings where Native Americans and travelers would cross.”

The DIA Board will meet at 2 p.m. Wednesday in the Lynwood Roberts Room at City Hall, 117 W. Duval St.

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