Rise Properties LLC plans an eight-story apartment and retail building in the Downtown Sports and Entertainment District.
The Downtown Development Review Board approved conceptual designs March 12 for a proposed mixed-use residential and retail development at the site of the George Doro Fixture Co.
Developer Rise Properties LLC wants to demolish the 106-year-old Doro building, which generated pushback from Mapping Jax, a local historic preservation and Downtown revitalization group.
The board, which voted 3-2 in favor of the plan, recommended that Rise rethink characteristics of its designs.
Valdosta, Georgia-based Rise Properties wants to replace the building with an eight-story, 247-unit mixed-use project at 102 A. Philip Randolph Blvd.
Rise Properties calls the project The Doro.
The developer has the property under contract. Matthew Marshall, vice president of development at RISE: A Real Estate Company, anticipates Rise Properties will buy the property in May or June from Jacksonville real estate investors Farley and Paul Grainger.
The 1.63-acre property is next to Intuition Ale Works and Manifest Distilling, near the Downtown Sports Complex. The site is bounded by Adams, Lafayette and Forsyth streets and A. Philip Randolph Boulevard.
Board members Joe Loretta and Brenna Durden voting against conceptual approval. They wanted Rise Properties to get a building demolition permit before returning for final approval
Loretta and Durden said final design approval would be easier if board members had the city’s support for the demolition.
The three other board members disagreed.
Board members Bill Schilling, Craig Davisson and J. Brent Allen voted to advance the project. Loretta said he likely will support it when it returns for final approval.
The oldest building on the Doro property dates to 1914, and six more structures were added through 1954.
Mapping Jax brought 11 members to the meeting. The speakers pushed for developers to merge the oldest Doro Fixture building into the proposed new construction instead of demolishing it.
“People make decisions every day on where to live, work and visit based on what communities look like,” said Nancy Powell, executive director of Scenic Jacksonville, a nonprofit that promotes preservation of undeveloped areas and historic structures.
“The more we look the same, the less reason there is to come here. Historic buildings are an economic asset that create a sense of place that connects us to our past. It differentiates us from any other place,” she said.
For its project report, Downtown Investment Authority staff consulted with Christian Popoli, city planner supervisor for the Community Planning Division, Historic Preservation Section.
Popoli said the state Historic Preservation Officer at the Florida Department of State determined the Doro Fixture building doesn’t meet the criteria for Jacksonville’s Downtown National Register District.
The structure is not a locally registered landmark and doesn’t have historic structure protections.
DIA staff recommended conceptual approval for The Doro.
Rise Properties wants to incorporate a sense of history.
Project architect Nick Hill with Niles Bolton Associates said he worked textures, colors and materials from the original Doro Fixture building into the designs as a nod to the site’s past.
The board did not require Rise Properties to adapt the existing Doro Fixture building in the plan, but it did recommend the developer incorporate additional characteristics before returning for final review.
Despite the split vote, four of the five board members praised the overall project.
Board member Craig Davisson said the developer didn’t request a deviation from the Downtown Zoning Overlay code.
“It’s doing all the right things,” Davisson said. “I’m quite amazed at the project. There’s hardly any parking on the street. The parking lot is buried. Half the block has front doors right on the street to units, outdoor amenities and a pocket park,” he said.
“That’s what we ask from every project and rarely do we see a mixed-use project that has all those components,” he said.
The Rise Properties development will be the first mixed-use residential project built in the Downtown Sports and Entertainment District.
Project renderings show a seven-level parking garage and 4,875 square feet of ground-level retail, commercial and restaurant space.
The retail use is at Forsyth Street and A. Philip Randolph Boulevard and will face an outdoor area that Rise Properties calls “The Alley” between the south side of the development and Intuition Ale Works.
The eighth floor will focus on retail space and resident amenities. Plans show 2,652 square feet of outdoor retail space with a 4,653-square-foot rooftop terrace for customers.
Marshall said Dec. 13 that the rooftop space would be an indoor-outdoor bar and lounge.
The top floor also has a 9,469-square-foot terrace and a 2,991-square-foot resident amenity space with a swimming pool.
At ground level, the developer expects to include a 5,029-square-foot courtyard.
The DIA report says a 6,100-square-foot plaza is planned at A. Philip Randolph Boulevard and East Adams Street with built-in benches and movable tables.
DDRB board members urged developers March 12 to redesign the building’s northeast corner to eliminate a vehicle turnaround and parking garage entrance that separates the plaza and retail frontage.
Incentives and neighborhood appeal
After the meeting, Marshall said The Doro will benefit from Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan’s Lot J development, which Khan is developing with The Cordish Companies.
Marshall said venues like Daily’s Place, TIAA Bank Field, VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, 121 Financial Ballpark and the proposed Jacksonville Armada soccer stadium are what makes the Doro Fixture property an attractive site in the Downtown Sports and Entertainment District.
“We develop all over the country. It’s extremely rare that we could find a private property that we could develop and be almost completely surrounded by entertainment of one venue or another,” he said.
Marshall said his company will seek federal and local tax incentives to build The Doro.
Rise Properties will apply for a city-backed Recapture Enhanced Value Grant, which rebates over 10 years the increase in ad valorem property taxes generated by the project, and Opportunity Zone funding.
The federal government designated Downtown Jacksonville's Sports and Entertainment District an Opportunity Zone — a program created by the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
“The REV grant would be an important piece of this, making it financially feasible,” Marshall said.
The REV grant will need City Council approval.
The earliest the project can return for final DDRB design approval is April 9.
Marshall said Rise Properties hopes to break ground by the end of the summer and he expects a 22-month construction period.