The Downtown Investment Authority board approved an additional $500,000 grant and revised term sheet Jan. 20 for Miami-based Related Group’s proposed $92 million apartment project on the River City Brewing Co. site on the Downtown waterfront.
The 8-1 vote brings Related Group’s total public incentive package to $15.94 million for its plans to build an eight-story, 333-unit apartment building, parking garage and park front restaurant on Downtown’s Southbank.
The project is named the RD River City Brewery apartments.
In November, the DIA board offered Related Group an $11.9 million Recapture Enhanced Value Grant; a $500,000 restaurant completion grant; and $3.04 million for improvements to the marina, boat ramp parking and Riverwalk and sidewalk improvements.
The developer is under contract with leaseholder Maritime Concepts to buy out the company’s interest in the restaurant property, including the remaining 77 years in its long-term land lease with the city.
The agreement requires City Council approval. Related Group also will have to return to the Downtown Development Review Board with updated designs before the company can break ground after DDRB voted Jan. 14 to defer conceptual approval for the project.
Related Group Vice President of Development Jeff Robbins told a DIA committee Jan. 14 that the additional money will offset an estimated $1.3 million cost to stabilize subsurface soil conditions to allow a solid foundation for the project.
Robbins said the company’s soil borings found concrete fill 15 feet to 30 feet below the surface that requires remediation.
The site is 3.43 acres bounded to the north by the St. Johns River, to the east by the Museum of Science & History and Friendship Fountain, to the south by Museum Circle and to the west by the St. Johns Marina boat ramp.
DIA CEO Lori Boyer said Jan. 20 that the size and shape of the parcel for the project’s 5,300-square-foot restaurant west of St. Johns River Park could change when Related Group selects an operator.
The developer plans to demolish the River City Brewing restaurant as soon as it completes its agreement with Maritime, expected by July 31, and after it finishes its final design Sept. 30.
The development agreement requires Related Group to obtain its certificate of occupancy for both the apartment and the restaurant simultaneously but construction of the components likely will be staggered, Boyer said.
The revised term sheet approved Jan. 20 also adds protections for the city in Related Group’s right of first refusal on a future sale of the MOSH building at 1025 Museum Circle Drive.
MOSH plans to relocate its facility to the Downtown Northbank, and Related Group said a vacant or inactive adjacent property could impact the apartment’s financial viability.
The new language limits Related Group’s rights to the property to 10 years and requires the developer to propose a project of similar scope and use to any bid the city receives for the MOSH property.
DIA member Bill Adams, who had concerns about a right of first refusal tied to the deal, was the only no vote Jan. 20.
The board also voted 9-0 in favor of a 10-year, $1,556,000 Recapture Enhanced Value Grant for the Vista Brooklyn Apartments at 200 Riverside Ave.
The developer, HP-DBG 200 Riverside LLC, comprising Hallmark Partners and Bristol Development Group, told the DIA that the additional grant will mitigate the negative effect on retail because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
If approved by Council, the REV grant would amend the city’s 2017 economic development agreement for the 308-unit, midrise apartment building.
DIA Board Chair Ron Moody and member Oliver Barakat both said the grant is justified to ensure Vista Brooklyn’s Class A retail space and the Brooklyn neighborhood’s economic momentum can survive the pandemic market conditions.
Boyer said retail losses from COVID-19 are pushing DIA staff to consider a new retail incentive in 2021 to keep developers interested in retail as the market recovers.
HP-DBG is required to keep retail in at least 60% of the 13,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space to qualify for the REV grant, but the award will be reduced proportionally as the company leases the space for other uses.