Skip to main content
From left, Ben Warner, president and CEO of Jacksonville Community Council Inc., investor and business leader Peter Rummell and Rob Palmer, planning and mobility leader at RS&H, discussed collaboration in developing a strong community.
Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Aug. 20, 201412:00 PM EST

To make progress, Jacksonville needs to 'grow up'


Asked Tuesday what’s not working and what Jacksonville should do differently to more fully develop and progress, Urban Land Institute panelist Rob Palmer first said “egos,” as in “we’ve always done it this way.”

Palmer, RS&H Planning and Mobility leader, then continued.

“We have a personality disorder, an inferiority complex,” he said. “We have to get over it, grow up.”

It’s far from the first time Northeast Florida has been observationally diagnosed with an inferiority complex. The focus of the ULI North Florida session was on it being the last.

Palmer joined Jacksonville Community Council Inc. President CEO Ben Warner and investor and community leader Peter Rummell, immediate past chair of the global ULI, to present “Collaboration & Community Engagement in Developing a Robust Community.”

Moderated by Tony Carvajal, executive vice president of the Florida Chamber Foundation, the panelists responded to several questions, all focused on creating a stronger community.

Responding to what’s not working, Warner said while there were some “white knights” like Rummell, progress takes more than a few people.

“We lack political will,” he said, summarizing that people generally urge that an unidentified “somebody has to step up.”

“We’re all going to need to step up,” Warner said.

Rummell said a group visited Cincinnati recently to explore creation in Jacksonville of a “patient fund” for mezzanine financing for development and redevelopment projects.

“My personal definition of success is when Cincinnati comes here,” he said.

The panel was part of ULI North Florida’s “Shaping the Competitive City” event at The River Club Downtown. The panel started with a focus on “soft infrastructure,” or the human elements in shaping a community.

Warner talked about JAX2025, the JCCI-led community focus on goals for Jacksonville over the coming 11 years.

Rummell talked about One Spark, the annual crowdfunding festival he financially backs. One Spark’s second Jacksonville festival was in April and Berlin will be the second city to try the idea Sept. 12-14.

Palmer talked about ULI’s focus on “Building Healthy Places,” an initiative to ensure healthy development on the Downtown Northbank that he said was rolled into the Downtown Investment Authority’s new Community Redevelopment Area plan.

“One Spark is a good example of the power of an idea,” Rummell said.

The real estate development executive said the idea was sparked by a group of young professionals who were offered jobs in other cities but didn’t want to leave.

“We had the suspicion there were lots of people like that around who didn’t know each other,” Rummell said.

One Spark helped bring them together to present an annual festival that featured inventions and ideas with the benefit of financial funding for those judged the best.

“Damn if it didn’t work,” Rummell said.

Carvajal asked the trio what they would have done differently with their efforts.

Rummell said he would do it more quickly. “Time is your enemy,” he said, explaining that it’s better to “get your mistakes out of the way faster.”

“It always takes more time and more money than you think,” he said.

Warner said JCCI underestimated the demand for change in the community.

“We had more people wanting to get engaged than we had the capacity to handle,” he said, referring to the start of the JAX2025 effort.

Carvajal brought up the decades-old issue of planning – and how to move beyond the plan into action.

“It’s this elusive quality called leadership,” Rummell said.

For JAX2025, JCCI gathered 230 community plans, read them all and linked them on the website. Warner talked about the issue of pedestrian and bicycle safety and pulling together numerous groups involved in the topic.

He asked why accidents continued to happen and was told by one participant: “We often have plans but we’re not allowed to work on other people’s plans.”

Warner said the city needed to align efforts because the energy and resources exist, but are fragmented.

“Coordination is easy, but collaboration is tactical,” Palmer said. “If you want to make a difference, you have to make a move.”

Among other points:

• Warner said Northeast Florida people are nice, but the flip side is that he hears folks are nice as long as you’re not different. He said Jacksonville is slow to engage the growing Hispanic community, has not dealt sufficiently with racial issues and has not progressed with LBGT issues. “We’re not good at differences yet,” he said.

• Rummell said there’s never been a better time to become involved in the community. “Find something you care about and you can make a difference,” he said.

• All said boomers and millennials – the generations most likely to not have any or just have a few children at home – want more choices in where they live. Warner said the Jacksonville Transportation Authority is responding by adjusting its transit system.

• Rummell said Downtown was “rudderless” and lacked direction, and he repeated his previous contention that the key to Downtown was “fixing the Landing.” He said redeveloping the aging riverfront Northbank festival marketplace was the “only thing that adds value to everything else … it’s something that has to get done.”

Flagler Center property buyer focuses on ‘proven locations’

Investcorp, which describes itself as a global provider and manager of alternative investment products, bought 12 buildings in Flagler Center in South Jacksonville for $133.2 million.

Property records show the purchase comprises the five Lakeside buildings, the seven Flagler Center buildings and the Flagler and Lakeside easements.

Investcorp International Realty Inc., through IVC Flagler LL LLC, bought the property from FDG Flagler Center I LLC and FDG Flagler Center II LLC, based in Coral Gables.

Investcorp was established in May 1982 and its New York office opened in 1988.

The sale was recorded Tuesday with the Duval County Clerk of Courts. The deed was signed Friday.

Investcorp’s real estate investment business in New York sources U.S. properties, performs due diligence, and arranges the financing and acquisition of those properties.

It also buys commercial mortgage debt positions and originates mezzanine debt.

Since 1995, it has acquired about 200 properties valued at nearly $10 billion. It has more than $4 billion of property and debt funds under management.

Investcorp invests $600 million to $800 million a year in U.S. residential, office, industrial, retail and hotel properties.

It says it offers clients investment opportunities “with the potential for both strong cash flow and attractive capital gains over a five-year investment period.”

Flagler Center is a 1,022-acre business park with 1.4 million square feet of office and industrial space. The center includes Baptist Medical Center South

and Citicorp’s 600,000-square-foot Credit Card Division campus.

The park is south of Old St. Augustine Road between Interstate 95 and Philips Highway.

Investcorp’s purchase comprises more than 1 million square feet of office and warehouse space built between 1997 and 2007, property records show.

The property addresses are 12735, 12740, 12808 and 12850 Gran Bay Parkway W.; 12740 and 12854 Kenan Drive; 7159 Corklan Drive and 14620 Breakers


Riverplace Tower OK’d for $1.5M Adecco renovations

Riverplace Tower is preparing two floors at a project cost of $1.5 million for Adecco Group North America and its Pontoon division.

On Monday, the city OK’d renovations for Adecco Group North America’s executive offices in the Downtown Southbank tower.

Dav-Lin Interior Contractors will renovate 14,600 square feet of space on the 12th floor for Adecco at 1301 Riverplace Blvd. The project cost is $795,792.

In late July, the city approved build-out for Adecco Group’s Pontoon division on the 10th floor at a project cost of


Adecco Group North America signed a lease in April for the two floors of office space at the tower. One floor is for the global staffing company’s Pontoon workforce placement division and the other will accommodate corporate executives, including the marketing departments, a few senior leaders and most of the executives.

Adecco Group North America is moving its corporate headquarters from Melville, N.Y., and adding 185 senior jobs in Jacksonville, where it already was employing 354 corporate positions in the suburban Deerwood South office park.

The Riverplace Tower should be ready in October for Pontoon.

Adecco is considered the world’s leading provider of human resources and staffing solutions.

[email protected]


(904) 356-2466

Be the first to know the latest breaking news and information that business leaders rely on in this fast-paced changing Northeast Florida economy. Regional business news, trends and statistics needed to grow your business. Key upcoming events you won’t want to miss and much more. Click Here to Grow your Business NOW!

Related Stories