Proposed JEA headquarters heads to DDRB for conceptual review

Documents show 8,500 square feet of ground level retail in the site's parking garage, as well as outdoor urban space.

An artist's rendering of the new JEA headquarters at 325 W. Adams St.
An artist's rendering of the new JEA headquarters at 325 W. Adams St.
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Conceptual designs for JEA's proposed Downtown headquarters released Friday include a rooftop terrace and 8,500 square feet of street-level retail space.

The Downtown Development Review Board will review the new building specifications Thursday by developer Ryan Companies US Inc.

Ryan asks for preliminary approval.

The designs show a 10,000-square-foot increase in rentable square feet up to 200,000 from the estimate of 190,000 square feet given to the Downtown Investment Authority on Aug. 23.

The office building has a total of 220,000 square feet, according to a DDRB summary.

JEA, Jacksonville's public electric and water utility, proposes to lease the nine-story office building at 325 W. Adams St. from Ryan.

The $72.2 million headquarters will sit on one city block, bounded by Adams, Monroe, Pearl and Julia streets.

The proposed nine-level, 850-space parking garage will house the development's retail component, facing North Julia Street.

The development plan also calls for 4,900 square feet of open and pedestrian space. Uses for the “open urban space” — which has a 20-foot setback from the pedestrian zone — or the rooftop patio are not defined in Ryan's plans submitted to the DDRB.

It’s one of the clarifications the board's staff seeks from the developer.

The building exterior shows metal paneling and glass, referred to in the DDRB documents as a “glazing system.”

The east elevation of the headquarters.
The east elevation of the headquarters.

What's in the review?

DDRB staff members recommend that the board approve the conceptual design of the JEA headquarters, but they're looking for a few changes to the final design.

Ryan's JEA project is the second to be evaluated under new Downtown design standards approved by the City Council in June.

The standards are intended to bring uniformity to Downtown designs and make street-level retail a higher priority and “support civic life,” according to DDRB documents.

Reviewers said the tower does include “a variety of textures, forms and elements with the architectural composition” of the building, but staff wants those features to be more defined so they can pass final review.

The staff assessment says the “amenity area” on the Julia Street side of the design “lacks trees, which is unfortunate being that the garage has ground floor retail along Julia Street.”

DDRB staff members said they will work with Ryan officials to ensure streetlights, benches and street furnishings are placed in the amenity area for the final design, and pavers in the pedestrian zone meet the Downtown streetscape standards.

The south elevation of the JEA headquarters and parking garage.
The south elevation of the JEA headquarters and parking garage.


The proposed parking deck would provide 760 secured spaces — with 50 for JEA vehicles and 40 for JEA customers. The site plan also shows that about 10 on-street spaces along Monroe Street will be removed to accommodate the pedestrian zone around the building.

DDRB staff also will urge the board to require Ryan officials to keep the 40 customer spaces available during JEA's nonbusiness hours.

The intent of the Downtown design code is to make 50% of the spaces in parking structures open to the public during that time. 

“This is impractical for the JEA vehicles as well as secured parking spaces,” the DDRB review states. “However, the JEA customer spaces should function during nonbusiness hours as public spaces.”

A map of new new JEA headquarters.
A map of new new JEA headquarters.

Not a done deal

The regulatory process for JEA's headquarters will continue Thursday despite uncertainty about the project.

JEA's exploration into privatization has made the Downtown headquarters one of the minimum requirements for any sale of the public utility.

JEA officials say if a sale or “recapitalization” does not occur, the utility could scrap the Downtown headquarters in favor of a smaller, existing office space in South Jacksonville.

The city, DIA, JEA and Ryan all have ways out of the deal.

The DIA and JEA included exit clauses in their agreements with Ryan to protect themselves if the public utility decides to reconsider the Downtown headquarters.

JEA’s lease has a 90-day exit clause, and the development rights issued by the DIA will become void if construction does not begin on the high-rise by Dec. 31, 2020. 

On June 25, the City Council approved the sale of the 1.52-acre headquarters site for $2.6 million to Ryan with the same 2020 deadline to begin construction. 

The DDRB will meet at 2 p.m. Thursday in the Ed Ball Building, 214 N. Hogan St. on the eighth floor in room 851.






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