Florida Blue files plans for Riverside parking garage

The 869-space structure will serve the insurer’s growing presence.

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  • | 6:47 a.m. October 31, 2019
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Florida Blue’s proposed Riverside parking garage is in city review.

Project engineer RS&H Inc. filed civil and landscape permit documents with the city Wednesday for the garage, proposed on 2.32 acres at Magnolia, Forest and Park streets, off Riverside Avenue.

Design plans for the parking garage will go before the Downtown Development Review Board on Nov. 14 for a final vote, according to Downtown Investment Authority Operations Manager Guy Parola.

The city will not approve the civil and landscape permit without final DDRB approval. 

The DDRB gave conceptual approval for the garage design Oct. 10, but asked project architects to simplify the facade design and have an “authentic intention” to include retail when they return for final approval

The garage includes 1,976 square feet reserved for future ground-floor retail on the Park Street side of the structure, but the retail space was shown as parking in the initial design.

Insurer Florida Blue proposes to build a $22.5 million, four-story, 869-space parking garage on city-owned property near the company’s Riverside Avenue office tower in the Brooklyn area of Downtown.

The city will transfer ownership of the parcel, appraised at $3.17 million, to Florida Blue at no cost by Dec. 31. The property now is a retention pond.

The city also will provide Florida Blue a $3.5 million completion grant to build the garage, which will have public parking access after 6 p.m. weeknights and all day on weekends.

Construction is expected to begin by Jan. 9 and be completed by Sept. 9.

Florida Blue contracted with Jacksonville-based RS&H to design the parking structure and landscaping. Jacksonville contractor Danis Builders LLC will lead construction.

GuideWell Inc., the parent company of Florida Blue, announced Oct. 16 it will add 500 contract and 250 full-time positions at its 532 Riverside Ave. tower, increasing the workforce there to 1,750 people.

In a news release, Mayor Lenny Curry linked the jobs expansion to the proposed garage.

The garage also frees Florida Blue’s surface lot at 323 Riverside Ave. for development of a $145 million, 300,000-square-foot headquarters for an international company code-named Project Sharp, which would bring 500 new jobs to the area.

Sharp is believed to be Jacksonville-based Fidelity National Information Services Inc., which is based nearby along Riverside Avenue. It recently bought Worldpay Inc., increasing the workforce.