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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Jan. 27, 201612:00 PM EST

Projects across the St. Johns River are cheering for each other

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by: Mark Basch Contributing Writer

Peter Rummell and Mark Lamping are overseeing major development projects on opposite sides of the St. Johns River in Downtown Jacksonville, but they don’t consider themselves competitors.

Rummell is developing a community on the Southbank of the river called The District – Life Well Lived, which is designed to provide a healthy living environment for residents and visitors.

Lamping is president of the Jacksonville Jaguars and in addition to running a football team, the Jaguars are seeking to develop a mixed-used community on the Northbank at the site of the former Shipyards.

The two spoke Tuesday at a meeting of the Economic Roundtable of Jacksonville and said they’re rooting for both projects to succeed because that would help create a vibrant Downtown that will benefit everyone.

“I couldn’t wish for anything to be more compelling” than the Jaguars’ proposed Shipyards project, said Rummell.

“It’s not a choice of one versus the other,” said Lamping.

“I don’t think there’s any question that these are complementary projects,” he said. “Nobody wants Peter’s project to be a success more than we do.”

As Jaguars officials have said before, the Shipyards and the riverfront area are the “front door” to EverBank Field, the Jaguars’ stadium.

“Our front door is in need of some major refurbishing right now,” Lamping said.

He said Jaguars owner Shad Khan sees Downtown development as a boon for the franchise.

“It has to do with protecting the asset he owns that is the Jacksonville Jaguars,” he said.

“We happen to believe great communities have great downtowns,” Lamping said. “We have to have a strong, vibrant Downtown.”

While the Jaguars and the city are moving forward with $90 million in projects in and adjacent to the stadium, including an amphitheater, redevelopment of the Shipyards remains far off.

The District is much further along in the development process. Rummell said the entitlement process for the project is nearing completion.

“That is a monumental pain in the ass and we’re 95 percent done,” he said.

The District’s plan includes 1,170 residential units and commercial and retail space.

Rummell said he expects to begin marketing to potential residents in the middle of this year, with the first people moving in during the fall of 2017.

“It’s healthy living that’s not weird,” he said in describing the community.

Rummell, who just turned 70, said The District will be an all-ages community that promotes a healthy lifestyle.

“We’re excited about it and we think we’re on to something new,” he said. “Nobody’s really done it to this degree that I’m aware of.”

Rummell hopes to eventually take the concept of developing healthy communities to other cities.

“This is an idea that has legs,” he said, but he said after the meeting that he has not picked other cities while he focuses on Jacksonville.

The District is under development on the site of a former JEA generating station, but Rummell said JEA took steps about 20 years ago to handle environmental issues.

“It’s is green and clean and ready to go,” he said. “Unfortunately, Mark’s isn’t.”

The city and the Jaguars have not discussed specifics about funding for cleanup and other infrastructure needs at the Shipyards site and along Bay Street.

“The city’s investment should be what’s sufficient to make the project a go,” said Lamping.

However, he doesn’t want to see the city waste money.

“It’s better to not go forward than to go forward and fail,” he said.

Rummell said The District’s negotiations with the city could pave the way for an agreement on the Shipyards.

“The paperwork is getting straightened out as we go. He’s going to have a piece of cake,” Rummell said.

“We’ve come to realize that these things don’t happen overnight,” said Lamping.

“It’s shockingly complex,” he said. “To get it right is really sort of a difficult challenge.”

However, Lamping does expect the Jaguars to eventually succeed in its development plans for the Shipyards.

“We’re as confident as ever,” he said.

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