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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Jul. 14, 202204:40 AM EST

JEA requests permit for $1.8 million emergency operations center build-out

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The city utility plans to relocate its EOC to Southside when it moves into its new HQ in fall 2022.
by: Mike Mendenhall Associate Editor

JEA intends to move its emergency operations center to the Cologix data center on Jacksonville’s Southside when the utility’s Downtown headquarters opens in the fall.

The city-owned electric and water utility filed a building permit application with the city for a nearly $1.8 million tenant improvement for 12,029 square feet of space inside the data center at 4800 Spring Park Road. 

JEA’s existing EOC is on the third floor of its Customer Care Center next to its headquarters tower at 21 W. Church St.  Downtown.

JEA Media Relations Manager Karen McAllister said in an email July 11 that it was important that the utility find a location for its EOC that could withstand a Category 5 hurricane.

The utility’s $100 million corporate headquarters under construction at 225 N. Pearl St. was not designed to house the EOC, McAllister said.

“The Cologix building on Spring Park Road met that need as a Cat 5-rated building. JEA’s data center and several other groups are based there, so that location made sense for us,” she said.

Cologix will also have JEA’s backup call center, she said. 

The decision to relocate JEA’s EOC to Cologix was finalized in late 2021. 

The utility has a five-year master service agreement with the data center operator that dates from November 2018 through Nov. 21, 2023, according to McAllister.

She said JEA’s monthly lease payment to Cologix is $91,669.54. JEA’s award for the EOC is not to exceed $5,828,317, which includes the project build-out. cost.

Cologix is a network-neutral interconnection and data center company. It came to the Jacksonville market by acquiring Jax Meet Me Room, a carrier hotel Downtown at 421 W. Church St.

It acquired the Spring Park Road facility when it bought the Colo5 colocation and disaster recovery provider in September 2014.

Perry-McCall Construction Inc. is listed as the contractor on JEA’s Cologix buildout. 

Previously, the JEA board had approved plans to build a secondary “hardened” headquarters in LaVilla that would have housed the EOC. 

JEA paid $2.44 million in early 2021 for 2.27 acres near its Church Street substation to house it, but preparation for that facility has since been suspended indefinitely.

McAllister said JEA will retain that property for future use. 

JEA says when it moves into its new headquarters near the Duval County Courthouse, the utility will maintain the 19-story 21 W. Church St. tower until a buyer is identified. 

The new headquarters is owned by Ryan Companies US Inc. JEA will lease it.

During a media tour May 20 of its new headquarters, McAllister said she has no heard any internal discussion about demolishing the Church Street building. 

In May 2020, JEA interim CEO Paul McElroy told board members he thought the utility should keep demolition on the table.

McElroy was replaced in November 2020 by current Managing Director and CEO Jay Stowe.

“Our plan is to maintain it while we look for a new owner,” McAllister said. 

“The new owner may do, of course, whatever they choose to.” 

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