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The Healthy Town project includes multifamily, retail and office space.
Jax Daily Record Thursday, Aug. 27, 201512:00 PM EST

Healthy Town gets development rights to Southbank site

by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

Seven months after a developer came to terms on the purchase of the former Southside Generating Station site Downtown along the Southbank, the Downtown Investment Authority board Wednesday approved a resolution allocating development rights.

That sets the stage for the city and Elements Development of Jacksonville to negotiate a development agreement for Healthy Town, a project proposed to combine residential, retail and office space on the 26.8-acre site.

Authority CEO Aundra Wallace described the approval as “one of the steps in the process.”

Elements released new renderings Wednesday of the project’s initial phase, including 500 apartments and condominiums, 200 hotel rooms, 200,000 square feet of office space and more than 94,000 square feet of retail and commercial space.

“All we’ve seen is some nice pictures and a nice concept,” said DIA board member Jack Meeks.

Meeks also commented on what he called the “lack of due diligence” on the part of the developers and that no financial plan has been presented.

Attorney Lynn Pappas, representing Elements, said not having formal approval to develop the site has hindered progress.

“It’s difficult to explain to lenders why there’s no development rights agreement,” she said.

The approval came with some conditions.

If for any reason Elements fails to develop the project, the city will be able to withdraw the development agreement.

The approval is subject to Elements being required to enter into a development agreement with the city within 24 months.

Wallace said details of the project will be negotiated as part of the development agreement, while Pappas suggested the pace of the process should increase.

“The longer we delay, the harder it will be to bring this project to fruition,” she said.

The board also approved a parking incentive for Amkin West Bay LLC, owner of EverBank Center at 301 W. Bay St. Its tenant, Citizens Property Insurance Corp., is moving nearly 1,000 employees to the building by the first quarter of 2016.

The board approved an agreement for the city to provide 850 parking spaces in the Water Street parking garage for $45 per month per space, a discount of $8.50 per space per month.

The agreement must also be approved by City Council.

Asked if adding more customers would increase the city’s operating cost for the garage, Public Parking Officer Jack Shad said the number of occupied spaces in a garage does not affect operating cost.

“Concrete costs the same to maintain whether it’s full or empty,” he said.

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