Curry seeks $2.25 million for Jacksonville Landing architecture, site work

Redevelopment planning will include opportunity for public comment.

Armstrong Fence Co. workers put up barriers Thursday around The Jacksonville Landing.
Armstrong Fence Co. workers put up barriers Thursday around The Jacksonville Landing.
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Mayor Lenny Curry is asking the City Council to approve $2.25 million in initial funding for redevelopment of The Jacksonville Landing as part of his proposed 2019-20 Capital Improvement Plan.

Along with that could come an opportunity for public comment.

City Chief Administrative Officer Brian Hughes said Thursday the allocation will start a 2 to 2½-year redevelopment process.

“If we can do it faster, we will. But it’s sort of an acknowledgment that about a two-year plan is what we’ll see executed,” Hughes said.

Identified for a “Riverfront Plaza” project, the first $225,000 proposed in the 2019-20 CIP would be used for a market analysis of the Landing property. The city would work with the Downtown Investment Authority to complete the study of the property at 2 Independent Drive W.

The analysis would help determine the proper proportions of public space versus private development on the riverfront property, Hughes said.

The analysis would work from a plan created as a result of a 2015 public charrette led by Wakefield Beasley & Associates and Urban Design Associates of Atlanta. That plan showed two “bifurcated pads” for private development, green/hardscape public space at the center and pedestrian access at the St. Johns riverbank with views of the water. 

“It allows the administration and the DIA to collaborate on a process by which we do an analysis of how much the existing city-owned property the market thinks the bifurcated pads should be,” Hughes said. “It’s literally going to be an analysis of the size of the pads and then a process by which we make the pads available for the development community.”

The rest of the money is divided into two $1 million appropriations in the 2020-21 and 21-22 CIPs, designated for land acquisition and site preparation. Hughes said it will not be used to purchase more property but for pre-engineering, engineering and landscape work on the Landing’s public space. 

If costs come in below $2 million, the remaining money will go toward creating “nodal” city-owned amenities in the public space, Hughes said. Those could be a splash pad for kids and an area for food trucks or other amenities. 

Hughes said that $2.25 million “is not what it’s going to take to do what we want to do at the Landing, but it’s to start the process.”

“This is to ensure that whatever the design is for the public space, it integrates sensibly to the private development that will go there as well.”

That private development could be mixed-use residential and office space with ground-floor retail or restaurants, he said.

Hughes said the administration doesn’t see the need for another charrette, but the city will seeking public and stakeholder input.

Hughes said the money for analysis and public space infrastructure was not included in that bill because it was reserved for the settlement and the city “needed to reaffirm that demolition was the way to go to get the site ready for the next thing.”

Any request for proposal issued by the DIA for analysis services would be subject to a public hearing process. Hughes said the process will be similar to a market analysis by the DIA for the former Duval County Courthouse and City Hall properties on East Bay Street.

City Council has allocated $18 million to the Landing this year. In March, council approved a settlement package as part of a $15 million legal settlement with former Landing owner Sleiman Enterprises. The bill also set aside $1.5 million for tenant lease buyout and related assistance costs and $1.5 million for demolition expenses. 

City Council will have to approve the additional $2.25 million for the Landing as it vets Curry’s proposed $1.3 billion 2019-20 budget.  

Council Finance Committee budget hearings began Thursday and are scheduled through Aug. 23. The full budget must be approved before the fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

Plant City-based contractor D.H. Griffin Wrecking Co. Inc. received a $1.074 million contract from the city to demolish the closed shopping mall.



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