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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Oct. 17, 201805:20 AM EST

Ventures has smaller plan for Downtown Southbank apartments

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Ventures Development Group proposes smaller Southbank apartments after battle with neighboring property owner.
by: David Cawton Associate Editor

Developers are advancing a scaled-down version of an apartment building planned for the Downtown Southbank one year after a neighboring property owner sued the group over the scale and scope of the project.

The Downtown Development Review Board will review additional modifications Thursday for Jacksonville-based Ventures Development Group LLC’s “Ventures Residential Development,” a 185-unit apartment building on 2.9 acres along Prudential Drive between the Eight Forty One building and the Acosta Bridge.

Venture’s new design is about half the size of the 13-story, 300-unit proposal approved by the Downtown Development Review Board and Downtown Investment Authority in 2017.

Ventures had planned a 13-story, 300-unit structure in the same location last year.

The change is the result of a settlement agreement reached between Ventures and GV-IP Jacksonville Owner LLC, owner of the Eight Forty One building.

After failing to push an appeal of the DDRB approval through City Council, GV-IP Jacksonville Owner sued Ventures in the 4th Judicial Circuit Court.

The lawsuit claimed Ventures failed to provide GV-IP with procedural due process when the group announced it was changing its building height from 190 feet to 150 feet; that Ventures didn’t meet the essential requirements of the law; and because of competent substantial evidence.

The groups reached a settlement over the summer.

In 2017, Ventures sought design approval for the project, also called the Hines property, and city financial incentives.

First proposed at 190 feet tall, the building was reduced to 150 feet.

Ventures’ plan needed five zoning code administrative deviations to move forward. Those allowed Ventures to exceed the building height limit of 60 feet, reduce parking requirements and alter the landscape and waterfront design requirements and alter the required setbacks from Prudential Drive.

Those were approved, and subsequently appealed through the DDRB, DIA and City Council before landing in court.

The new design is a seven-story, 84-foot-tall building with 185 residential units; a reduction from 369 to 211 parking spaces; and other variations from the original proposal.

The group also will expand the Southbank Riverwalk as part of its approximately 55,977 square feet of outdoor space.

Ventures Development Group is seeking up to $7.66 million in city incentives to build the $44.8 million Downtown Southbank apartments.

A two-level parking structure built into the building will provide 178 covered spots. Another 33 surface spaces are provided, including seven for public Southbank Riverwalk access. The previous design included 70 surface spots, with 12 for the public.

In January 2017, the DIA approved a 15-year Recapture Enhanced Value grant worth up to $7.66 million to help subsidize the estimated $62.3 million construction cost.

Ventures returned to the DIA in September to modify its agreement based on new estimated construction costs of $44.8 million.

Under the new approved terms, Ventures will receive a REV grant worth up to $7.88 million over 20 years pending council approval.

Attorney Steve Diebenow of the of Driver, McAfee, Hawthorne & Diebenow law firm said his clients plan to purchase the land from South Shore Riverpoint Holdings LLC this year.

He said the sale is dependent on the new project receiving DDRB approval again, council members passing corresponding legislation and securing building permits.

Construction could begin in 2019.

The board meets at 2 p.m., Thursday in a first-floor conference room at City Hall, at 117 W. Duval St.

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