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Jax Daily Record Friday, Oct. 18, 201904:57 PM EST

JEA continues to plan for new headquarters

The utility’s board will meet Tuesday, the day before its deadline to opt out of the HQ project.
by: Mike Mendenhall Staff Writer

JEA’s Oct. 23 deadline to cancel its lease agreement with Ryan Companies US Inc. for a proposed Downtown headquarters is near, but a memo from Managing Director and CEO Aaron Zahn says the utility is continuing to plan for the project.

In an interoffice memo dated Oct. 2, Zahn told JEA board members that utility officials are “conducting further programing work to compile and confirm building size, functions and planned departmental adjacencies” which should be complete by mid-November. 

The memo is included in the Tuesday board meeting packet.

The timeline outlined in the memo goes beyond the lease cancellation extension date that Ryan and JEA agreed to in September. The lease was approved by the JEA board June 25.

The developer received conceptual design approval Sept. 19 for the proposed $72.2 million, 200,000 square-feet Downtown headquarters building at 325 W. Adams St.

The development includes a proposed 313,000-square-foot, nine-story parking garage with 899 spaces and 8,500 square feet of ground floor retail space. A 4,900-square-foot outdoor urban open space also is planned for the site.

Ryan will have to receive final approval from DDRB before site work can begin.

The exit clause was included in the lease because JEA’s consideration to sell off its assets created uncertainty around the utility’s need for a new high-rise headquarters.

Zahn said previously JEA could cancel the deal with Ryan and move its headquarters to a smaller existing location in South Jacksonville if privatization doesn’t proceed.

JEA’s Oct. 22 board meeting is one day before the deadline. Zahn is expected to brief the board on the proposed corporate campus. The utility still could opt out, but no board action on the lease is scheduled for the meeting.

On Monday, JEA’s selection committee released the initial scores of the bids the utility received in its invitation to negotiate and disclosed the identities of eight of the nine private companies moving forward in the procurement process. 

The companies are: 

• American Public Infrastructure LLC.

• American Water Works Co. Inc.

• Duke Energy Corp.

• Emera Inc.

• IFM Investors PTY Ltd.

• JEA Public Power Partners — a consortium of Bernhard Capital Partners, Emera Inc. and Suez SA.

• Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets Inc.

• NextEra Energy Inc.

JEA issued the invitation to negotiate Aug. 2, saying a sale could be the best option to solve projected declining energy sales and revenue. 

To be accepted, all bids must include minimum requirements of a $3 billion cash payment to the city, $400 million in customer rebates and a commitment to keep employees in Downtown Jacksonville.

The selected bidder will have to provide the city $132 million to extend pension protections for all full-time JEA workers employed at the time of the sale. 

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