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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Jun. 30, 202009:59 AM EST

Minneapolis developer pays $2.6 million for JEA HQ site

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Ryan Companies US Inc. says groundbreaking is in September.
by: Mike Mendenhall Staff Writer

A Minneapolis-based developer closed on 1.5 acres to build JEA’s next corporate headquarters in Downtown Jacksonville.

Ryan Companies US Inc. announced June 30 in a news release that it paid $2.6 million for the parcel at 325 W. Adams St.

Ryan purchased the property from the city of Jacksonville, a deal approved in a 19-0 vote by City Council in June 2019.

The deed recording the sale was not available as of 10 a.m. June 30 in the Duval County Clerk of Court online records database. 

Downtown Investment Authority CEO Lori Boyer said in an email that the property closing was escrowed last week and was “set to disburse” June 29.

“JEA looks forward to seeing the headquarters project move to the construction stage after a long planning period to address business continuity. The downtown location helps JEA as a municipal utility provide continued support to its customers, employees and the community,” JEA CEO and Managing Director Paul McElroy said in a written statement.

“We appreciate Ryan Companies work with us in adapting plans to meet JEA’s goals and needs for years to come,” he said.

Ryan officials said in the release it will break ground in September on the estimated $64 million to $68 million seven-story headquarters. It is scheduled for completion in early 2022.

The building will include about 153,000 square feet of rentable space, with an adjacent eight-floor, 640-stall parking garage.

“The headquarters project will be a tremendous point of pride for JEA, its customers, its employees and the City of Jacksonville,” said Doug Dieck, president of Ryan Companies Southeast Region, in a written statement.

“Today is a big step in a long process. Ryan, JEA and CBRE have been focused on a goal of bringing a world-class, class A office building to downtown Jacksonville to serve JEA for years to come,” he said.

JEA contracted with the CBRE real estate firm to help negotiate the deal with Ryan.

The JEA board of directors approved a renegotiated lease with Ryan on May 21 to build a scaled-back corporate campus, reduced from a $78 million, nine-story, 196,000-square-foot office building approved last year.

Documents show the smaller headquarters and amended lease agreement will reduce JEA’s gross rent cost by $27 million over the life of the lease. 

Ryan will build the headquarters and lease it to the city-owned utility. The board also voted unanimously to extend the lease agreement from 15 to 20 years. 

JEA officials expect the smaller headquarters option will save the city-owned utility $19 million to $35 million in operational costs from its existing 360,000-square-foot, 19-story tower and campus at 21 W. Church St. built in 1962. 

JEA board Vice Chair Bobby Stein, interim CEO Paul McElroy and utility procurement staff are working with real estate firm CBRE Jacksonville to find a site for a 40,000-square-foot “hardened” facility for an emergency operation center resilient to flooding and severe weather.

Stein said during the board’s June 23 meeting that JEA is working with DIA staff to local a site for the second facility. The DIA oversees city-owned property and taxpayer-backed financial incentives to developers in Downtown’s Northbank and Southbank Community Redevelopment Areas.

The collaboration indicates JEA’s hardened center will likely be in Downtown. Stein said June 23 JEA’s team and DIA staff have located two or three potential sites.

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