Documents show DIA wants final Jacksonville Landing park design by August 2021

A draft request for proposals would spend up to $300,000 to create three options for the Downtown riverfront plaza.

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Draft documents from the Downtown Investment Authority show the city plans to spend up to $300,000 to solicit designs for a minimum 4.5-acre riverfront “park/plaza” at the former Jacksonville Landing site.

Obtained through a Nov. 18 public records request, the draft outlines the process to select three teams to provide 50% of the public park design by April 1, 2021.

The RFP is part of the city’s plan to redevelop the former Jacksonville Landing property after the city razed the two-story riverfront shopping mall in May.

The DIA would set an Aug. 31, 2021 deadline for the top-scoring team to submit a final design that includes an estimated construction budget, according to the documents.

During a Nov. 18 public meeting, DIA CEO Lori Boyer said the draft RFP was submitted to the city Procurement Division to be finalized.

It describes the public sentiment of the property as “the symbolic center of Downtown” that “can’t be overstated.”

DIA CEO Lori Boyer said in a Nov. 11 interview that she does not want to put the rest of the 6.8-acre site on the market for private development until the preliminary park/plaza design is complete.

“While the DIA intends to solicit private development proposals for two smaller sites in the corners adjacent to Water Street/Independent Drive, this design of the public park/plaza should occur first in order to prioritize its importance and to guide the design of future adjacent development,” the RFP states.

Renamed “Riverfront Plaza,” the DIA wants the site to have “generous open space” near the river and Northbank Downtown Riverwalk. 

The RFP also calls for a view corridor from Laura Street to the St. Johns River and a “significant art piece” that is “authentic to Jacksonville.” 

The design teams will be required to present plans that better connect the property to Downtown and adjacent properties; programmed park space for daytime and evening activities; address environmental resiliency; and do not replicate waterfront parking designs in other cities.

The draft RFP says the DIA would provide the top three design teams with an up to $100,000 stipend to create the Phase I 50% design. 

Each team would be required to have a landscape architect and urban designer with a minimum seven years of experience to be considered and must have designed urban parks that included hydraulic and erosion controls and resiliency. 

The design team also will include a local, regional, national or international artist who will personally work on the project, the documents state. 

The artist will be required to have experience with the installation of a “significant” outdoor public art piece in a civic space.

A 2015 plan for the Landing drafted from public feedback facilitated by Wakefield Beasley & Associates and Urban Design Associates of Atlanta will be made available to the three teams.

The Phase I designs must include a site plan, renderings and construction cost estimates. The proposals will be opened for public input, and then scored by the DIA, according to the documents. 

Boyer said Nov. 18 that the DIA contracted real estate firm CBRE and its national urban design and marketing firm affiliate Streetsense to help public officials “evaluate what minimum functional pad sizes would be considered viable for an office building, for a hotel, for residential” on the site’s future private development.

The former Landing property is 5.97 acres, but Boyer said more space will be available for development after the city’s proposed demolition of the adjacent Main Street Bridge on-ramp to connect the property with a 1.67-acre public parking lot to the east.

The city’s fiscal year 2021-22 budget includes money to replace the St. Johns River bulkhead at the Landing site and the draft DIA documents state the city is considering realigning Water Street and Independent Drive to create more space for the park-plaza. 

City Council approved $225,000 in September 2019 as part of the 2019-20 Capital Improvement Plan to pay for a marketing analysis for the property. 

Mayor Lenny Curry’s administration budgeted an additional $2 million for the Landing by fiscal year 2021-22 for preengineering, engineering and landscape work on the Landing’s public space.