DIA issues 30-day notice for River City Brewing site apartment project

City policymakers praise Related Group’s addition of a restaurant to the proposed Southbank redevelopment.

Related Group wants to build 335 apartments at River City Brewing Co. site on the Downtown Southbank.
Related Group wants to build 335 apartments at River City Brewing Co. site on the Downtown Southbank.
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The Downtown Investment Authority board approved a procedural motion Oct. 14 and signaled preliminary support for Related Group’s $92.34 million redevelopment plan for the River City Brewing Co. site.

The board voted 7-0 to issue a 30-day notice of disposition a day after the Miami-based developer agreed to include a restaurant in its plans for 335 apartments at the 3.43-acre city-owned property on Downtown’s Southbank. 

The DIA’s action starts a clock for other developers who might be interested to submit proposals of similar value and scope before the board gives final consideration to Related Group. 

Board member Oliver Barakat, who voted against approving the notice in an Oct. 9 meeting, praised Related Group for listening to public concerns about losing a publicly accessible waterfront restaurant on the site. 

After the committee’s 4-1 vote, the developer added the 1,800-square-foot restaurant-bar with 3,200 square feet of outdoor dining space facing St. Johns River Park.

Barakat said Related Group decided “to make this improvement, which I think we all agree is going to make the entire experience on that site better, not only for the public but I think also for their residents.”

The restaurant site is shown in this map provided to the DIA.
The restaurant site is shown in this map provided to the DIA.

Barakat received confirmation from DIA CEO Lori Boyer and Related Group attorney Steve Diebenow, a partner at Driver, McAfee, Hawthorne & Diebenow, that the restaurant will offer river views. 

The developer negotiated a contract with River City Brewing parent Maritime Concepts to purchase its interest in the property and buy out the remaining 77 years in its long-term land lease with the city.

Related Group plans to demolish the restaurant for an eight-story apartment complex and 500-space parking garage at 835 Museum Circle.

DIA staff provided a project summary that shows a $70 million construction budget and a $10 million payment for Maritime’s interest and remaining lease cost.

The development would feature a riverfront swimming pool; courtyard and deck; a 3,500-square-foot fitness center; bike-kayak storage; a clubroom for tenants; and a 2,800 square-foot boat shop to service the adjacent marina.

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.

DIA staff changed a tax refund in the proposed term sheet after Related Group added the restaurant. The DIA wants to offer the lesser of a $500,000 completion grant for the eatery or 50% of the development cost.

Related would receive a 20-year, 75% Recapture Enhanced Value Grant under the modified deal capped at about $11.9 million.

City Council member and DIA liaison LeAnna Cumber, who represents the Downtown Southbank, said she thinks Related Group’s proposal is “a really good deal for the city.”

According to DIA staff, the city’s total investment in the project is $16.75 million, which includes giving Related Group the 3.43-acre site at no cost other than a $1 fee.

The modified DIA report shows the city would receive a net $5.54 million in ad valorem tax revenue from the development through the 20-year grant period.

Boyer said Oct. 14 that the city’s interest in the remaining 77 years of the lease was valued at $734,000, a point Cumber alluded to in her opinion of the deal.

“I do think it’s important for people to remember we’re not really giving the property away now. We really, functionally, did that 22 years ago when we signed the 99-year lease,” Cumber said. 

The deal will return for a final vote to the DIA board in November after the 30-day disposition. The land offer, REV grant and completion grant require Council approval before Related Group can break ground.