DIA board to vote on $92 million River City Brewing proposal

Developer Related Group wants a right of first refusal for any project built to replace the nearby MOSH.

Related Group wants to build a residential tower on the site of River City Brewing on the Downtown Southbank.
Related Group wants to build a residential tower on the site of River City Brewing on the Downtown Southbank.
  • Government
  • Share

When the Downtown Investment Authority board meets Nov. 18, it is expected to take a final vote on Related Group’s $92.34 million redevelopment plan for the River City Brewing Co. site on the Downtown Southbank.

A DIA Retail Enhancement and Property Disposition Committee unanimously approved a resolution Nov. 17 that advances a proposed redevelopment agreement with the Miami-based developer with several changes.

The latest agreement puts a portion of the tax revenue created from the  335-apartment mixed-use development toward maintenance and staff at the adjacent St. Johns River Park and Friendship Fountain. 

The amended deal also gives Related Group the first say in what is built at the nearby city-owned Museum of Science and History parcel. 

The museum’s trustees propose to relocate the facility to the Downtown Northbank.

“The developer was quite shaken by the MOSH announcement,” DIA CEO Lori Boyer told committee members.

She said Related Group’s market analysis relied on an active MOSH next door.

“That was going to be a benefit to the site. The loss of that was a concern,” Boyer said.

Boyer said the agreement would give Related Group the chance to bid against any developer for the site as long as it proposes an equal capital investment.

Related Group attorney Steve Diebenow of Driver, McAfee, Hawthorne & Diebenow said the developer’s chief concern is a “commercial use next door that is not compatible” with the residential complex. 

Board members want to avoid a situation like the Ford on Bay on the Northbank. 

A New York-based developer’s proposed $136 million project there is held up by Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront’s right of first refusal on one of the two project parcels. 

“We’ll probably get a lot fewer respondents knowing someone else has the right of first refusal, similar to the Hyatt situation. I’m wondering why we’re considering that,” said board member Todd Froats.

The DIA received two bids for the riverfront Ford on Bay. Froats and other board members want more responses if they move to sell the MOSH property at 1025 Museum Circle. 

Board members asked Boyer to negotiate a 10-year cap on Related Group’s right to the parcel.

Related Group plans to demolish the River City Brewing restaurant after it completes negotiations with the property leaseholder, Maritime Concepts.

The developer will buy Maritime’s interest in the property and buy out the remaining 77 years in its long-term land lease with the city to build an eight-story apartment complex and 500-space parking garage.

At the DIA’s request, Related Group added a 1,800-square-foot restaurant-bar with 3,200 square feet of outdoor dining space facing St. Johns River Park to its plans in October.

The DIA’s agreement with Related includes a 20-year, 75% Recapture Enhanced Value Grant capped at about $11.9 million.

The city would pay $1.143 million for improvements to a marina dock and $1.65 million at the marina boat ramp and relocation of an underground fuel tank.

Related Group is required to spend at least $250,000 for improvements to the Southbank Riverwalk that borders the property. 

Maritime or Related Group would restore a second dock damaged in 2017 by Hurricane Irma as a condition of the sale. 

Related Group will maintain and operate the marina and provide at least 20 public slips for transient boats.

Too much time?

Board member Oliver Barakat was concerned that Related Group’s proposed construction timeline is too long and requested DIA staff work with the developer to shorten the deadlines before the Nov. 18 meeting.

Related Group submitted its timeline Nov. 17. It anticipates closing on the property July 31 and completing designs by the end of 2021. The developer wants until Sept. 30, 2022, to complete city permitting with construction completed by February 2026.

Barakat said he thinks Related Group should be able to finish the project by early 2025. He doesn’t want the property to sit idle for nearly five years.

“Between the close and when they finally start construction, are we going to have a dead site?” Barakat said.

Diebenow said he expects River City Brewing to stop operations at the site after Related Group closes on the property.

Park funding

DIA Director of Downtown Real Estate and Development Steve Kelley said the latest agreement would generate $129,350 annually to supplement the park and fountain’s maintenance budget.

According to Kelley, $79,350 would come from additional tax revenue generated from the redeveloped site while another $50,000 would be generated from the publicly owned property joining the tax rolls. 

Boyer said she wants to employ the strategy to help pay for parks at a redeveloped Jacksonville Landing on the Northbank and the proposed $600 million The District project on the Southbank.

“In each case where we are developing a riverfront park adjacent to a development, we should be dedicating some of the revenue associated with that development to the maintenance of that specific facility to keep it at a higher level so that it becomes an attraction,” Boyer said. 




Special Offer: $5 for 2 Months!

Your free article limit has been reached this month.
Subscribe now for unlimited digital access to our award-winning business news.