Duval County Public Schools narrows list of bidders for headquarters move

The school district closed its process in April seeking offers for its riverfront office building on Prudential Drive and other surplus properties.

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Duval County Public Schools has narrowed the slate of companies vying for a piece of the district’s effort to sell its Downtown Southbank administration building and develop a new headquarters off the riverfront.

A July 7 purchasing department memo shows a bid evaluation committee recommended the district start negotiations with top scorers to sell its headquarters building at 1701 Prudential Drive along the St. Johns River.

The top scorers are Miami-based Related Development LLC; the Jacksonville Transportation Authority; and PSF 1 Jax Metro LLC of Jacksonville.

A separate recommendation lists five companies and JTA as the top scorers in the bid to find a suitable site for the district’s new headquarters. 

The evaluation committee ranked those bids: 

No. 1: Blue Cross and Blue Shield

No. 2: PSF 1 Jax Metro LLC

No. 3: Vanderbilt Office Properties & SREIT 

No. 4: Suddath Van Lines Inc.

No. 5: Amkin West Bay LLC

No. 6: JTA

In April, DCPS announced it received 16 bids in response to a November 2021 invitation to negotiate to solicit proposals for the new headquarters and acquire the riverfront office building.

The invitation, drafted by real estate firm CBRE Inc., included an option to buy three surplus school properties, including  43.65 acres with a 78,000-square-foot cross-dock warehouse at 11231 Phillips Industrial Blvd. E. 

The summary shows two companies, East Group Properties and Merritt Acquisitions LLC, will move into negotiations for the Phillips Highway property.

The evaluation summaries did not include bid scores for two other properties — 3.47-acres and a 66,487-square-foot building at 120 King St. in the Rail Yard District; and The Midtown Centre properties. 

The Midtown site is 7.99 acres with 117,100 square feet of space among three buildings, including the Schultz Center at 4019 Boulevard Center Drive and the adjacent 4037 Boulevard Center Drive office building. 

The school board has considered selling the Southbank administration building for nearly two decades. 

It is not clear how long the negotiations will take.

A schools spokesperson said by email July 20 that the district’s principal procurement officer has not appointed a negotiation team to review the replies and final offers and make a final recommendation to the Duval County School Board. 

According to the email, members of the public schools leadership will comprise the negotiation team and there is no defined time to complete the talks. 

Although the identities are public, the invitation to negotiate allows the district to keep the details of each bid out of the public record until the school board selects a winner.

According to the invitation, the school district wants to relocate from the Downtown riverfront to  “consolidate DCPS’ operational footprint, improve organizational effectiveness, business strategies, and daily operations to better serve DCPS’ students, employees, and taxpayers.”

The district advertised for an “office of the future” to accommodate 618 full-time employees with 100,000 to 120,000 square feet of space.

The invitation says the building must have wireless technology, be energy efficient and be sustainable with an environmentally responsible design.

The Downtown Investment Authority considers the district’s 4.98-acre Southbank headquarters site as valuable for economic development.

The Duval County Property Appraiser assessed the Prudential Drive site at $11.15 million in 2021.

The 122,822-square-foot structure, built in 1981, and the land are exempt from taxes under school district ownership.

In a resolution approved September 2021, the school board set a $12 million to $60 million cost range spread over 20 years for its new administration building.

That framework was set before supply chain issues and inflationary pressures caused materials, labor and overall development costs to rise nationwide.

“We are currently researching possible impacts and will have to follow up with you once this has been determined,” said the July 20 email.

The bidders

The companies that received the highest scores vary from traditional real estate and development groups to insurance, transportation and logistics companies and a city government entity in JTA.

The bidders for the headquarters property. Those in gray advanced.
The bidders for the headquarters property. Those in gray advanced.


The companies in negotiating to locate/offer a new headquarters site are:

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Inc.: A Jacksonville-based health insurance provider.

PSF 1 Jax Metro LLC: Records from the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulations and the Florida Division of Corporations show the company shares an address with The Meek Companies, a Jacksonville-based real estate, project design, procurement financing and  construction management firm.

Vanderbilt Office Properties and SREIT Deerwood Park South LLC:  The Chicago-based Vanderbilt is affiliated with SREIT, a subsidiary of a company that paid $231 million for an 11-building office portfolio in Deerwood Park in May 2019.

Amkin West Bay LLC: A Miami-based property management company that owns TIAA Bank Center at 301 W. Bay St.

Jacksonville Transportation Authority: The board of the independent government public transportation authority for Duval County voted unanimously Feb. 24 to submit a bid. The board did not provide details about its offer. However, JTA has been entering into long-term land-lease deals with residential developers with its surplus property as part of its Transit-Oriented Development Program. 

The bidders for the Prudential Drive property. Those in gray advanced.
The bidders for the Prudential Drive property. Those in gray advanced.

1701 Prudential Drive

Companies bidding to acquire 1701 Prudential Drive on the Southbank riverfront are: 

Related Development LLC: The subsidiary of The Related Group recently demolished the former River City Brewing Co. on the Downtown Southbank to build a $99 million, 327-unit apartment community and restaurant. The Miami-based developer also is building the luxury Azure condominium high-rise in Jacksonville Beach.


PSF 1 Jax Metro LLC

The bidders for the Philips Highway property. Those in gray advanced.
The bidders for the Philips Highway property. Those in gray advanced.

Philips Highway

The companies bidding to buy the surplus property on Philips Highway are: 

EastGroup Properties Inc.: A Ridgeland, Mississippi-based equity real estate development trust. According to the company’s website, EastGroup focuses on development, acquisition and operation of industrial properties “in major sunbelt markets.”

Merritt Acquisitions LLC: A Baltimore, Maryland-based property management, design and construction company with an office in Jacksonville.