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Jax Daily Record Friday, Oct. 12, 201802:10 PM EST

JEA board of directors to get update on headquarters search

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Five development plans for a new HQ were presented to the board in July.
by: David Cawton Associate Editor

The JEA board of directors plans to have enough information by January to select the location for a new headquarters in Downtown Jacksonville.

An update on the headquarters is expected Tuesday at the board’s monthly meeting.

Commercial real estate firm CBRE is under contract with JEA to vet possible locations, acting as an “owner’s representative.”

By December, CBRE and JEA plan to evaluate those responses.

Headquarters hunt

The city-owned utility has considered a new corporate home for years, noting its 21 W. Church St. offices are old and would be expensive to refurbish.

JEA is seeking 200,000 square feet of space, a reduction of about 160,000 square feet, to accommodate about 836 employees.

In August, CBRE began to develop criteria to score companies which are expected to respond to a request for proposals.  

The solicitation was issued the week of Oct. 8.

According to an Oct. 2 interoffice memo, “respondents will be required to provide a site or building, conceptual design and site fit, a delivery team, financing terms (lease or purchase) and demonstrate experience and financial capabilities to develop a project of this size.”

Interested firms can score a total of 200 points on two sets of criteria.

The first scores “qualitative” aspects of the plan, which considers how the new development will impact customer engagement; program accommodation; workforce engagement; the development schedule; the estimated benefit to economic and Downtown development; timing and site control.

The second is on “quantitative” goals, including the total or annualized cost and the cost over the life of a new development.

In January, the board is expected to select the development group it wants to begin negotiating with ahead of a final development agreement to be executed by March.

Likely locations

A report released in January 2017 estimated the cost to build a new campus at $58 million to $78 million. Redeveloping its current offices could cost $60 million to $65 million.

Those figures will likely be higher in 2019.

Five development plans were presented to the board in July, including two new developments in the urban core, one near TIAA Bank Field as part of the Lot J development, and two in which JEA would lease space in Downtown office buildings.

The utility said leasing floors in either the Bank of America Tower or Wells Fargo Center isn’t ideal because of security and parking issues.

Board Chair Alan Howard also has said he would prefer JEA continue to be in a building without other tenants.

JEA could join Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan’s Lot J mixed-use development as an anchor tenant. Khan’s plan could include $2.5 billion worth of hotel, office, retail, dining, entertainment and convention center space.

According to renderings, JEA’s footprint would be a seven- to eight-story building with a detached parking garage.

Another plan proposed by developer Steve Atkins of SouthEast Development Group would bring new construction to the urban core.

Atkins’ plan is a four-block, mixed-use project that JEA could anchor, along with retail, housing and an urban grocer.

Atkins could not be reached for comment Friday.

JEA bought its 19-story tower and the next-door customer service building in 1989 for $8 million. Both were built in 1962.

The buildings are considered contributing properties in the Downtown Jacksonville Historic District as listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Demolition would require the Historic Preservation Commission’s approval.

Any new construction Downtown would require the approval of the Downtown Investment Authority, Downtown Development Review Board, City Council and Mayor Lenny Curry.

The JEA board meets at noon Tuesday in the 19th-floor conference room of its headquarters.

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