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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Sep. 13, 201805:20 AM EST

The Cawton Report: Gulliford making progress on Mayport plans

Tax credits sought to help bring commerical fishing, restaurants back to the area
by: David Cawton Associate Editor

Bill Gulliford wants to make significant progress on redeveloping Mayport Village before he leaves City Council next year.

On Tuesday, Gulliford held another meeting to discuss ideas about bringing restaurants, commercial fishing and processing and an educational component back to the area.  

In May, Gulliford, who represents District 13, began pushing for the development after the city acquired 6.72 acres along Ocean Street and the St. Johns River from JaxPort.

Bill Gulliford

Previous plans failed to redevelop the property next to the St. Johns River Ferry.

Mayport Village Working Waterfront LLC was formed in April to become the master developer of the site. The group is trying to secure federal New Market Tax Credits as incentives for investors to bring projects to the area.

Fredric Washington of Mount Tabor Consulting LLC is working with the group to apply for those credits.

He said Wednesday the group will have a better idea of eligibility after the master plan is completed.

Washington said Mayport Village Working Waterfront will hold the tax credits and offer them to outside developers who want to join the project.

He said the group also is pursuing additional financing options.

Gulliford is working to secure $2 million for construction of a new Mayport Community Center and $360,000 for new docks near the St. Johns River Ferry. Council is expected to approve the mayor’s 2018-19 fiscal year budget Sept. 25.

Gulliford said he hopes dock construction will start within six months.

In the meantime, Mayport Village Working Waterfront is meeting with architects and planners on the master plan, which could include a commercial fish processing plant, restaurants and shopping.

Jacksonville University is considering relocating its Ocearch research vessel to Mayport and partnering with the developers to create a world-class shark education center.

JU is the educational partner of Ocearch, a nonprofit group that tracks and monitors marine species such as great white and tiger sharks along the East Coast and other areas.

Quinton White, executive director of JU’s Marine Science Research Institute, said previously the location, about 2.2 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, would be an ideal location for the research center and Ocearch ship.

City, JEA want out of Plant Vogtle deal

The city of Jacksonville and its public utility, JEA, are suing the owners of a proposed nuclear power plant in Georgia to exit a 2008 deal to purchase power and pay for construction costs.

Attorneys for the city filed a complaint in the 4th Judicial Circuit the same day co-owners of the Plant Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia sued JEA in federal court, alleging the utility is trying to breach the terms of the contract.

According to The Florida Times-Union in August, officials with the Municipal Electric Authority in Georgia and JEA Interim CEO Aaron Zahn sparred for weeks through written correspondence about JEA potentially exiting the deal because of cost overruns and missed deadlines.

Zahn wants to void the contract and is asking the plant’s owners, comprising Georgia Power, the City of Dalton, Oglethorpe Power and MEAG, to vote against continuing after $2.3 billion in new cost overruns. Zahn also wants the Sept. 24 vote pushed to October.

The now $27 billion project is an expansion of the existing Plant Vogtle that includes the construction and operation of two additional reactors.

In 2008, JEA agreed to a 20-year power purchase agreement that could cost ratepayers about $2.3 billion. JEA is responsible for those costs even if the reactors never come online.

When it was announced, the expansion was set to cost around $9.7 billion. Since then, the United States has shifted focus from nuclear energy toward cheaper natural gas and other alternatives.

Plant Vogtle is the only active nuclear power plant under construction in the U.S.

Attorneys for the city argue that the JEA board of directors did not have the authority to enter into the agreement in 2008, making the contract invalid.

MEAG also has asked a federal judge in Georgia to force JEA to remain a partner in the project.

Council approves grant from UAE

Jacksonville City Council members approved legislation Tuesday allowing the city to receive a $2.775 million grant from United Arab Emirates to help address damage done by Hurricane Irma a year ago.

The grant will fund projects including:

• $425,000 to Duval County Public Schools for an architecture career academy and computer labs at William M. Raines High School and Jean Ribault High School.

• $250,000 to Builders Care and $400,000 for Habitat for Humanity of Jacksonville Inc. for the Ken Knight Drive Neighborhood Home Repair and Restoration Project.

• $900,000 to I.M. Sulzbacher Center for mobile medical clinics.

• $800,000 to the City of Jacksonville to restore Charles Reese Park and to improve public infrastructure on Ken Knight Drive.

Projects could begin in late 2018 or early 2019.


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