Developer Hines says the high-rise planned for 323 Riverside Ave. is on track for completion in June 2022
Designs for the Fidelity National Information Services Inc. $145 million world headquarters in Brooklyn received unanimous final approval Feb. 13 from the Downtown Development Review Board.
Architect Gensler and developer Hines didn’t ask the DDRB for any design code deviations for the 12-story, 358,092-square-foot office tower or its eight-story, 570,000-square-foot parking garage.
During the meeting at City Hall, Hines Senior Managing Director Lane Gardner confirmed that the high-rise planned for 323 Riverside Ave. is on track for completion in June 2022 — the target set by FIS CEO Gary Norcross at the Nov. 1 headquarters announcement.
FIS, a Jacksonville-based Fortune 500 company, provides technology for financial institutions. It acquired Cincinnati-based Worldpay in July for $43 billion and needs more space.
The combined company will have more than $12 billion in annual revenue and 55,000 employees worldwide in 40 countries. It has clients in 110 countries.
The FIS headquarters will sit on 5.71 acres with the majority built on a 4½-acre parking lot owned by insurer Florida Blue.
The DDRB agreed to lift a requirement that FIS name a tenant for a planned ground floor mixed-use office space in the parking garage after expanding the space from 3,200 square feet to 6,000 square feet in the final design.
Board members Craig Davison and Brenna Durden did criticize part of the design. They said that the east side of the development facing the St. Johns River was “disengaged” from the Downtown Riverwalk.
There are no plans for a public entrance to the headquarters from the Riverwalk, but Durden asked if FIS has considered adding a public lunch or cafe space, noting a two-tiered wall separating the pedestrian path from the office tower.
Gardner told the board the barrier is a “wave wall” to protect the development from storm surge. He said FIS also will replace the riprap — rock, stone and other material that protects the riverbank from erosion.
Plans call for public access to the Riverwalk on the south side of the property.
Board member Brent Allen said he was “baffled” why his colleagues were critiquing the project’s small details, specifically the parking garage.
“This is a significant project, it’s a beautiful project, it needs to get done and I’m a little concerned why some of the comments have been nitpicking it so much,” Allen said. “I think this needs to go through without any conditions put on it.”
FIS also offered more details about the 21-foot-wide urban open space along the garage’s Forest Street side.
The “Garden Walk” will feature shade trees, planters, swinging benches and public art.
Joe Loretta, a DDRB board member and director of landscape architecture at Genesis Halff, said the dimensions of the planters do not meet the Downtown Design Overlay standards updated by the City Council in June.
He’s also concerned that the soil volume of the planters might not be large enough.
“Eventually, if we don’t do something about this in 10 years we’re going to have a lot of dead sticks out there,” Loretta said. “It’s a lot of money for the city to redo all of this.”
The project will now advance to city permitting, but FIS still needs to acquire some city property for the headquarters.
Council President Scott Wilson filed legislation Feb. 5 at the request of the Downtown Investment Authority that would sell 0.39 acres of city-owned property to FIS for $10 in exchange for public parking access in the 1,603-space garage.
As part of a $29.9 million incentives deal with the city and state, FIS will retain its 1,216 Jacksonville employees. Norcross said its three Jacksonville facilities will be consolidated into the new headquarters.
Norcross and Gov. Ron DeSantis said Nov. 1 the new Downtown headquarters will create 500 jobs.