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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, May 21, 201907:20 AM EST

The District takes step toward building public infrastructure at the site

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CDD for Downtown Jacksonville Southbank project votes to approve a special debt assessment of $44.5 million on the development’s property owners.
by: Mike Mendenhall Staff Writer

Developers of The District, the $600 million mixed-use development on the Downtown Jacksonville Southbank, now has the money to begin work on public infrastructure at the site.

The five-member board for the project’s Community Development District voted Monday to approve a special debt assessment of $44.5 million on the development’s property owners. The action allows the board to bond for $31.3 million to begin the infrastructure work.

Owned by developers Peter Rummell and Michael Munz through Elements of Development Jacksonville LLC, the 32-acre mixed-use development is planned for completion in 2022.

The Downtown Investment Authority approved the development deal in April 2018 that includes the creation of the CDD as well as a Recaptured Enhanced Value grant of up to $56 million.

As part of the deal, Elements and the CDD will split the cost of public infrastructure improvements in The District, including roadways, parking facilities, utilities, environmental improvements, landscaping, signs and lighting.

The city’s portion of the infrastructure improvements is a separate $23 million project that will be taken on by the same general contractor.

The District Community Development District board meets Monday.

The infrastructure debt taken on by the CDD can be repaid through either property taxes in The District or through a direct fee paid by current and future property owners. That method has yet to be determined.

When complete, The District will comprise 1,170 residential units, both for sale and lease; 200,000 square feet of office space; more than 200,000 square feet designated for retail; a hotel; riverfront bars and restaurants; a 125-slip marina; and a 3.5-acre riverfront park with an extension of the Southbank Riverwalk.

Elements also has an agreement with a hotel operator to open a 147-room AC Hotel by Marriott.

Much of the Southbank property obtained for The District is on the former site of JEA’s Southside Generating Station. Dallas-based Preston Hollow Capital LLC purchased the site last year on behalf of Elements.

Elements is paying for the property through a $20 million mortgage with Preston Hollow.

Also Monday, the board also hired Jacksonville-based Haskell to oversee infrastructure construction. The CDD and Haskell will now begin contract negotiations before work begins in July.

Project engineer William Schilling Jr. of Kimley-Horn said permits for construction of Phase I of the project have been submitted to the city. Phase 1A will be the construction of a 220-space parking lot at the adjacent Duval County School District. Phase 1B, Schilling said, will bring improvements to Prudential Drive which is the main point of access to the development.

According to a land swap agreement with Duval Schools to obtain an existing parking lot, The District planners are required to building a new lot before commencing on the wider development.

Construction on the parking lot is scheduled to begin no later than July 30 and will take up to 90 days.

Meanwhile, Schilling told board members Monday the design team has also completed a rendering of The District’s street layout. It shows a roundabout, riverwalk and roadways.

At a design charrette last week, engineers began work on “the softer side” of The District's design, mapping out the 3.5-acre park along the Riverwalk, a second park on the south end of the development and pedestrian zones in the traffic right-of-ways.

“(It’s) the different landscape and hardscape palette, starting on programming for what we might see in the parks. That side of the process has been kicked off as well,” Schilling said. “By the end of May, give or take a little bit, we’re anticipating to have concepts and initial plans.”

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