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Jax Daily Record Friday, May 4, 201801:36 PM EST

Jacksonville Landing owner asks court to force city to repair docks

“Not only are the docks an eyesore, but they are also unsafe," motion by Landing owner says.
by: David Cawton Associate Editor

The legal fight over the future of the Jacksonville Landing continued Friday as the Downtown mall’s operator filed a new motion asking the 4th Judicial Circuit to force the city to repair docks along the St. Johns River damaged by hurricanes Mathew and Irma.

Jacksonville Landing Investments LLC, a subsidiary of Sleiman Enterprises, filed the motion asking for an injunctive relief in the ongoing litigation which began in November.

JLI claims the city has breached terms of the lease agreement it has with the company requiring it to maintain and repair docks and bulkheads outside of the Landing.

“Despite its contractual obligations to maintain the Waterfront Amenities surrounding the Landing, the City has failed to do so,” the complaint states.

JLI purchased the buildings from the city in 2003 for $5.1 million and leases the land from the city through 2056.

A city spokeswoman said Friday the city does not comment on pending litigation.

Attorneys Rutledge Liles, Michael Lee and Ryan Mittauer with Jacksonville-based Liles Gavin P.A. filed the motion on behalf of JLI. The group forwarded the filing to the city’s Office of General Counsel.

“Not only are the docks an eyesore, but they are also unsafe for those potential patrons that may visit the Landing by watercraft,” the attorneys wrote.

The motion cites Section 7.3 “The City’s Management and Operating Covenant,” and Section 7.4 “Operations,” of the lease which outlines the city’s responsibilities concerning the water amenities and other responsibilities.

JLI’s attorneys claim the city has “made no effort to repair the docks” in the months since the storms.

While Hurricane Matthew in October 2016 caused more damage to the coastal areas of Northeast Florida, Irma’s Category 1 storm surge in September caused a 150-year flood in parts of Downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods compounding damage from Matthew to public and private docks and bulkheads.

Friday’s filing is the latest in the 2017 case before Judge Virginia Norton.

On Oct. 17, the city served JLI a notice of breach of lease, noting among other things, JLI’s failure to operate and maintain the Jacksonville Landing as a “high-quality, first-class retail facility,” as required by the lease agreement.

On Nov. 16, JLI sued the city over a separate breach of contract accusation, stating the city refused to fulfill its obligations under their agreement.

There have been few updates since Dec. 15 when the city filed a motion to dismiss the suit, claiming the complaint “is little more than a laundry list of stale grievances, false and incomplete assertions, and gratuitous and self-serving statements.”

The 2017 legal fight, as well as a separate conflict which began in 2015 over parking, has served to hinder any redevelopment plans for the Downtown mall, built in 1985.







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