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Jax Daily Record Friday, Mar. 9, 200712:00 PM EST

JEDC moving forward to bring more marinas Downtown

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by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

by Max Marbut

Staff Writer

At its monthly general meeting Thursday, the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission heard presentations on four proposed issues and unanimously approved all of them. The proposals will now be recommended to the City Council for its approval.

South Shore Group Partners is proposing the construction of a 128-slip marina behind the Aetna Building and adjacent to the Hines development on the Southbank.

It would be comprised of three floating docks and would be targeted for vessels in the 40- to 60-foot size range, said Eric Lindstrom, JEDC project manager.

He added the facility would provide full marine services with the exception of fuel, which is available at the marina at River City Brewing Co., and would be open to the public for slip rental.

Lindstrom said the proposal was brought to the JEDC now because the project will be presented to the Governor and the Cabinet in Tallahassee April 17.

The project would also increase the number of planned boat slips on the river between the Fuller Warren and Acosta bridges from the current 561 to 689.

Hal Dodt, managing partner for the South Shore Group, said Hines is in favor of building the proposed marina and has included a river walk at the site in the design for their 52-story St. John condominium project.

Dodt also said his company has spent $40,000 for engineering studies and design work on a tunnel that could be constructed under the railroad bridge next to the Acosta Bridge that would allow the Southbank Riverwalk to be extended toward San Marco.

JEDC Executive Director Ron Barton pointed out that having more marina slips Downtown has emerged as a priority identified by the commission’s task forces that have been developing an action plan for Downtown improvements.

The commission also approved sending to Council a proposal to appropriate $250,000 to support International Baler Corporation’s plan to expand its operations on Rio Grande Avenue on the Westside.

The company fabricates equipment that compresses waste materials and currently employs 55 full-time workers at its 57,000 square-foot facility.

The company wants to build an additional 29,000 square-foot manufacturing plant that would create 15 new jobs for welders and pipe fitters at an average salary of $37,000 per year.

The JEDC will send to Council a proposal to issue $161.6 million in Industrial development revenue Bonds for Holland-Sheltair Aviation Group for the expansion of their facilities statewide and a request for $25,000 from the Jacksonville International Airport Community Redevelopment Area Board to fund an advertising campaign for the JTA’s airport shuttle bus service from Downtown to JIA.

JTA representative Steve Arrington said the service is currently averaging 45 riders per day and the goal is to increase that to an average of 75 per day.

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