Preston Hollow: Two luxury town house parcels under contract at The District

The Downtown Development Review Board approved changes to the Southbank project’s design guidelines.

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Owners of the 32-acre mixed-use Southbank project The District said two parcels designated for luxury town houses are under contract for sale.

Ramiro Albarran, Preston Hollow Capital LLC managing director of origination and structuring, told the Downtown Development Review Board on May 13 that the company executed a deal for the parcels, which face a marsh on the site’s southeast corner.

Albarran said Dallas-based Preston Hollow is under a confidentiality agreement and did not disclose the buyer.

The District project engineer, Bill Schilling of Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc., said the parcels will be developed by “a luxury, high-end homebuilder.” 

Ramiro Albarran, Preston Hollow Capital LLC managing director of origination and structuring
Ramiro Albarran, Preston Hollow Capital LLC managing director of origination and structuring

Albarran announced the deal during the DDRB meeting as he asked the board to compromise with its staff to allow the three-story town houses ground-floor entrances and patios to face the marsh.  

“The reason this is such an important topic for us is that we are currently under contract for this site,” Albarran said. 

“We want to make sure we preserve the flexibility that will be an important first step on what is going to be a very important project, not only to us but to the city of Jacksonville.”

The conversation was part of changes Preston Hollow requested to The District Master Plan Design Guidelines first approved in February 2016.

DDRB staff recommended approving the broader changes to the plan guidelines May 13 but were concerned ground-floor amenities in the town houses would disrupt people using the city-owned boardwalk planned through the marsh.

Downtown Investment Authority Operations Manager Guy Parola said city officials want the boardwalk to be “a nice space that remains relatively unaffected by the built environment.”

According to Schilling, The District’s site plan always has envisioned town houses facing the marsh. He said restricting the development would be “detrimental to the value” and product design. 

Staff agreed with Preston Hollow and its engineer but will require a landscaping buffer between the town houses and boardwalk approved by DDRB staff before construction begins.

“Once the final plan is revealed, you’ll see a great deal of setback as it relates to those units and the boardwalk, and I think we will ultimately be able to meet the objectives,” Albarran said. 

Schilling said more than six town house units will face the marsh. 

“One of the whole reasons for buying a beautiful 32-acre parcel of the river and marsh is so you can take advantage of those views,” Schilling said.

The board approved the modifications to The District’s site plan 4-0.

Schilling, who is a DDRB member, recused himself from the vote. Board member Brenna Durden also is involved in The District project and did not vote.

Other changes

The board’s decision also will allow hotel and office space on a parcel on The District’s western edge in addition to residential and retail. The parcel could hold the development’s tallest building up to 350 feet.

“In speaking with end-users, we have gotten some tremendous interest from office users as well as hotel users,” Schilling said. 

Buildings on the two town house parcels can be a maximum of 50 feet tall, according to the modified plan.


Preston Hollow has invited city and DIA officials to a groundbreaking ceremony for the project May 25 that Albarran said in April could include a new name for the development. 

Preston Hollow will not be a vertical developer at The District. It will market the individual property parcels to other developers, according to Albarran. 

Since Preston Hollow assumed control of The District’s development company Elements Development of Jacksonville LLC in October, private interest increased to build at the site, according to DIA CEO Lori Boyer.

J.B. Coxwell Contracting Inc. crews started infrastructure work at The District on April 5, building a $965,105 surface parking lot for the adjacent Duval County School Board building.

The development’s Community Development District closed on $35.56 million in bonds in December for its portion of the estimated $58.349 million in site infrastructure improvements it will split with the city, most of which must be finished before buildings can start to rise.

City Council approved $82 million in city financial incentives for Element that include up to a $56 million Recapture Enhanced Value Grant.