DDRB approves rooftop sign at Regions Bank headquarters

The VyStar Credit Union parking garage, USS Orleck museum and JTA Mobility Hub take steps.

The  Regions Bank signage was approved by the DDRB.
The Regions Bank signage was approved by the DDRB.
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Regions Bank will be able to add rooftop and blade signage to its Downtown headquarters at 51 W. Bay St.

The Downtown Development Review Board approved the bank’s sign exception application Oct. 8 in a 3-2 vote.

The bank reduced the size of the rooftop sign by 59.32 square feet after a Sept. 10 workshop where DDRB members called it out of scale with the two-story building.

Regions will lose part of its wall signage when VyStar Credit Union begins construction of its proposed parking garage next door.

Cyndy Trimmer, Regions attorney and a partner with Driver, McAfee, Hawthorne & Diebenow, told the board the bank also reduced the size of its proposed blade signs facing Bay and Laura streets from 36 square feet to 23.56 square feet to conform to code. 

Regions also asked the board to approve a third blade sign facing Laura Street.

The bank redesigned the rooftop sign after the workshop, replacing its all-green, lit background in favor of a wire bronze mesh holding the Regions logo.

“I thought you and your client really took the recommendations and concerns of the board and worked it into a project. I do appreciate that,” board member J. Brent Allen told Trimmer. “It’s not often that we see an applicant work hard to incorporate not only the board’s concerns but the public’s concerns as well.”

Before the vote, Downtown Investment Authority Operations Manager Guy Parola defended the recommendation to approve the signage.

The building is a contributing structure to the Downtown Jacksonville Historic District and Parola said Regions is pursuing a local landmark designation for the property, which would not allow exterior wall signs.

He said the rooftop sign is a compromise DIA and DDRB staff are willing to make so Regions continues with the designation process and preserves the features on its historic facade.

“It’s kind of a balancing act here. We want this building preserved. They’re going down that route. But part of the cost of that is preserving the facade of the building,” Parola said. “So, the cost of that facade is depriving themselves of wall signage they would otherwise be entitled to.”

The design changes made by Regions were not enough to satisfy board members Craig Davisson and Brenna Durden, who said the sign still looked out of scale. Both voted against the exception.

They said approval would set a “bad precedent” for future Downtown rooftop sign exceptions.

“I cannot support this roof sign. It just looks like out of the 1930s when there were no regulations,” Durden said. “It just seems out of scale. It will create a precedent because we do have provisions that talk about what is in the surrounding areas. Our regulations refer to what’s in the surrounding area.”

Allen, Joseph Loretta and newly appointed DDRB member Matt Brockelman voted to approve the sign exception. 

Board member Bill Schilling recused himself from voting because his employer, engineering firm Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc., provides services to Regions.

Board member Frederick Jones was absent.

VyStar parking garage

The DDRB approved VyStar Credit Union’s design modification to its proposed seven-story parking garage at 28 W. Forsyth St.

The board voted 6-0 to allow VyStar to add 5,749 square feet of retail space and redesign the facade with white fabric mesh cladding on the east and west sides of the project. 

Total retail space in the garage is 19,516 square feet with glass storefronts facing Main Street.

The white fabric mesh cladding on the proposed VyStar parking garage.
The white fabric mesh cladding on the proposed VyStar parking garage.

Thomas Hurst, principal at Dasher Hurst Architects, told the board the fabric material is the same used on the canopy at Daily’s Place amphitheater next to TIAA Bank Field.

The garage will support the 1,000 employees VyStar is relocating to its headquarters tower and campus at 76 S. Laura St. and 100 W. Bay St.

VyStar confirmed in September it entered into a contract with Regions Bank to buy a 0.26-acre parking lot at 54 W. Forsyth St. for the parking garage.

The DDRB first approved the project in December 2018 when it was part of a proposal by SouthEast Development Group of Jacksonville and The Molasky Group for the Laura Street Trio adaptive use project.

The board raised concerns about the brightness of lighting proposed to accent the screening and parking garage columns.

The city regulates architectural and accent lighting on Downtown structures through electrical permitting, according to DDRB staff. Durden and Loretta said they want to consider adding it to the DDRB’s regulatory authority on lighted signs. 

DIA CEO Lori Boyer said lighting standards will be addressed in the authority’s upcoming Community Redevelopment Agency plan review.

Brockelman recused himself from the vote because he is a contracted lobbyist for VyStar through his firm, The Southern Group.

USS Orleck

Designs for a temporary guest services building to support the warship USS Orleck DD-886 Naval Museum on the St. Johns River won preliminary DDRB approval. 

The nonprofit Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association Inc.’s plan to relocate the Orleck from Lake Charles, Louisiana, to Pier No. 1 Downtown requires a building with restrooms, access walkways to the ship and additional landscaping, according to designs submitted to the DDRB.

The USS Orleck DD-886 Naval Museum on the St. Johns River.
The USS Orleck DD-886 Naval Museum on the St. Johns River.

The board voted 6-0 to advance the idea of a one-story prefabricated structure near Catherine Street and the unfinished Berkman Plaza II.

The city-owned land is part of The Shipyards, a possible development site for Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan.

JHNSA President Daniel Bean and Vice President Justin D. Weakland said Oct. 5 the building is designed to move if Khan or another developer secures a deal to build at the Shipyards. 

The Orleck awaits dry-dock inspection in Texas before it can be towed to Jacksonville. Bean estimates the ship will be ready for delivery in December.

The nonprofit recently secured a $1 million credit line from VyStar to support the project.

Several DDRB members said they want to see detailed renderings of the building and access walkways before the design returns for final approval.

JTA Mobility Hub

The DDRB unanimously approved a 6-by-6-foot monument sign for the Jacksonville Transportation Authority’s Kings Avenue Mobility Hub. 

The board approved design changes in September to the proposed transit station under the overpass at Kings Avenue and Louisa Street. 

The hub will support more pickup and drop-off lanes for JTA buses and the authority’s automated Ultimate Urban Circulator program after the retrofit is complete. 

JTA Director of Communications David Cawton II said work will be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2021.



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