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Jax Daily Record Monday, Jul. 15, 201905:20 AM EST

Ryan files for review of $72.2 million JEA headquarters

High-rise project is moving through the approval process despite possibility JEA could drop the project for smaller headquarters in south Jacksonville.
by: Mike Mendenhall Associate Editor

Ryan Companies US Inc. is requesting city review of its civil plans, or 10-set, for JEA’s proposed $72.2 million Downtown headquarters.

Documents filed July 8 with the Planning and Development Department show Ryan asked the city to move forward with review of the 201,470-square-foot building and 850-space parking garage at 325 W. Adams St. A 10-set is technical review of the horizontal construction aspects of a development project.

In a July 8 email, Downtown Investment Authority Operations Manager Guy Parola informed Ryan-contracted attorney Cyndy Trimmer that paperwork can be submitted for the 10-set “in light of the time-sensitive nature with this project.”

However, Parola added that the designs for the nine-story high-rise will need final approval from the Downtown Development Review Board before the DIA will sign off on the 10-set.

The approval process for the new JEA building is moving forward despite financial uncertainty at the public utility because of dwindling demand for electricity. 

During strategic planning, the JEA board discussed possibly abandoning the project. The board approved a lease agreement with Ryan in June that includes a 90-day exit clause if the utility decides to move its headquarters to a smaller, less-expensive location. JEA is considering leasing existing office space in south Jacksonville.

JEA administrators say they hope to avoid possible layoffs and cuts in capital projects by expanding services to boost revenue. Utility leaders plan to approach City Council to authorize changes to its charter and lobby the Florida Legislature to reduce restrictions on expanding its business model.

Mayor Lenny Curry said in an interview July 8 that he thinks JEA will keep its agreement with Ryan and remain Downtown.

“They’re facing some strategic hurdles that they’re talking about,” Curry said. “I expect that they’re going to figure this out and they will likely move forward with their deal with Ryan Companies.”

The city council agreed to sell the 1.52-acre property to Ryan Companies in June for $2.6 million. A clause in the contract would allow the city to buy the property back from Ryan Companies if JEA exercises its option to cancel the agreement.

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