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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Oct. 13, 202003:30 PM EST

Related Group adds restaurant to proposal at River City Brewing site

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The developer responded to public concern about losing riverfront dining on Downtown’s Southbank.
by: Mike Mendenhall Staff Writer

Miami-based developer Related Group is adding a park-front restaurant to its redevelopment plans at the River City Brewing Co. site Downtown in response to pushback from the public and city policymakers.  

Related Group proposes a 1,800-square-foot restaurant-bar with 3,200 square feet of outdoor dining space with its $92.34 million, 335-apartment development on the St. Johns River, according to a project modification released Oct. 13 by the Downtown Investment Authority.

The DIA board will have that information when it votes on a resolution Oct. 14 that would issue a 30-day notice of disposition for the city-owned River City Brewing property adjacent to St. Johns River Park. on Downtown’s Southbank.

Related Group negotiated a contract with River City Brewing parent Maritime Concepts to purchase its interest in the property and buy out the remaining 77 years in its long-term land lease with the city.

DIA’s Strategic Implementation Committee voted 4-1 at its Oct. 9 meeting to recommend the notice of disposition but some members criticized the developer’s plan for the lack of restaurant and retail space.

“I’m sympathetic to having to build 20,000 to 25,000 square feet of retail. I totally agree there’s not enough room for that. But one or two small tenants and 5,000 square feet of retail I don’t think is too much to ask given the tax subsidy you’re asking this board to provide you,” Committee Chair Oliver Barakat said.

Related Group intends to demolish the existing River City Brewing restaurant building and replace it with an eight-story apartment complex and approximately 500-space parking garage at 835 Museum Circle.

DIA staff has changed the proposed tax refund and added a $500,000 completion grant or 50% restaurant cost reimbursement to Related Group’s city-backed incentive package. 

Related would receive a 20-year, 75% Recapture Enhanced Value Grant under the modified deal capped at about $11.9 million. 

Combined, that’s slightly less than the $12.94 million cap of the first REV grant offered by the DIA. 

According to DIA staff, the city’s total investment in the project is $16.75 million, which includes giving Related Group the 3.43-acre site at no cost.  

The modified DIA report shows the city would receive a net $5.54 million in ad valorem tax revenue from the development hrough the 20-year grant period. 

The DIA projects Duval County, the St. Johns River Water Management District, the Florida Inland Navigation District and Duval County Public Schools will receive a net total $16.35 million in that 20-year period.

The Miami-based group will own the restaurant and the deal requires it to be in operation through the life of the REV grant, DIA documents state.

Adding a restaurant could reduce the size of the land Related Group agreed to give the city to increase St. John River Park’s size and river frontage. 

The REV grant and land conveyance will need approval from City Council before an agreement with Related Group is final.

The remainder of Related Group’s deal with the city remains the same. 

Related Group has a $70 million construction budget for the project and expects to pay $10 million for Maritime’s interest and remaining lease cost.

The development would feature a riverfront swimming pool; courtyard and deck; a 3,500-square-foot fitness center; bike-kayak storage; a clubroom for tenants; and a 2,800 square-foot boat shop to service the adjacent marina.

The city would pay $1.143 million for improvements to a marina dock and $1.65 million at the marina boat ramp and relocation of an underground fuel tank at the site.

In return, Related Group is required to spend at least $250,000 for improvements to the Southbank Riverwalk that borders the property. 

Maritime or Related Group would restore a second dock damaged in 2017 by Hurricane Irma as a condition of the sale. 

Related Group will maintain and operate the marina and provide at least 20 public slips for transient boats. 

DIA CEO Lori Boyer said Oct. 9 the city would own the docks and control the submerged land lease after Maritime’s control of the underwater parcel expires in 2022.

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