Fuqua buys riverfront Times-Union property, plans $250 million redevelopment

Demolition will start “almost immediately” on the vacant newspaper buildings for redevelopment into apartments, a grocer, retail stores and public uses.

  • Columnists
  • Mathis Report
  • Share

Atlanta-based developer Jeff Fuqua bought the former Florida Times-Union property Feb. 4 and said demolition will start quickly for what he estimates will be a $250 million redevelopment of the Downtown Northbank riverfront site into One Riverside.

Atlanta-based developer Jeff Fuqua.
Atlanta-based developer Jeff Fuqua.

“This will be a famous project in Jacksonville when we are done,” he said after the late-afternoon purchase from 1 Riverside Property LLC, owned by the Morris family of Augusta, Georgia.

“This is pretty monumental. It will be quite a place.”

The demolition will be completed by June, he said.

Fuqua, principal of Fuqua Development, declined to provide the purchase price, which has not been recorded with the Duval County Clerk of Courts.

Two phases

One Riverside is designed in two phases.

The first phase comprises 270 apartments, retail space and a restaurant.

The second phase adds more apartments and retail space.

There also is an eight-level parking garage.

Stairs leading from One River to the Northbank Riverwalk along the St. Johns.
Stairs leading from One River to the Northbank Riverwalk along the St. Johns.

Fuqua said the first phase should open in summer 2024. The second phase could start at the end of 2023 or early 2024.

The 18.84-acre property is at 1 Riverside Ave. in the Brooklyn area along the St. Johns River. It is next to the Acosta Bridge.

Fuqua said work will start “almost immediately” on demolition of the five-story, 55,500-square-foot office building and three-level, 223,000-square-foot production building.

A pending demolition permit shows an estimated  $1 million cost to demolish the structures.

Fuqua said to expect the demolition crews to start work in 30 days. The building materials will be recycled.

He said equipment and furniture has been removed.

The Times-Union campus was built in 1967. The Morris family bought the property and the newspaper in 1982.  It sold the paper in 2017. The paper moved to Wells Fargo Center.

Fuqua said the retail portion of One Riverside will include a 40,000-square-foot grocery store that will be announced soon. It will not be a Publix Super Markets Inc.

He said the banner is “new to this part of the market” but would not say if it already has a store in the area.

The residential buildings.
The residential buildings.

A complicated deal

Fuqua said that “out of 350 projects I have developed, this is one of most complicated.”

The city was a party to the deal and will relocate and restore McCoys Creek that runs through the property and develop a park.

He said work will start immediately on the creek.

“We did buy the whole thing and parceled off pieces to the city,” Fuqua said. 

There is a separate sale to TriBridge Residential, Fuqua’s partner in the apartment development.

He said there is more to come.

“There are more sales and more to happen over time,” he said.

The retail space – the grocer and an additional 7,000 square feet – will be developed on the site of the office building. The park will go where the production building is.

The Florida Times-Union office building will be demolished by June.
The Florida Times-Union office building will be demolished by June.

The residential development and the restaurant will be along the river.

A second phase will provide 115 more apartment units and 15,000 square feet of retail space fronting the restored McCoys Creek.

Fuqua said he also has submerged land. He said he was looking at how to develop that for a dock. 

The site, which fronts the Riverwalk, also will be accessible from Riverside Avenue. May Street is being extended into the project with a pedestrian plaza at the end.

“There will be lot of pedestrian access,” he said. 

Accomplished quickly

Fuqua said that while the deal was complex, it was accomplished quickly.

He said the property was put under contract in late March. It went through city and Downtown Investment Authority approvals.

“To go through the city process and financing, they (usually) don’t happen that fast in a deal this complicated,” he said.

The site plan for One Riverside.
The site plan for One Riverside.

Fuqua thanked DIA CEO Lori Boyer and the city “for making these things happen.”

The Downtown Development Review Board signed off on the site plan Dec. 16.

City Council approved a $31.59 million incentives package Nov. 23 for the redevelopment.

The developer said Fuqua Deputy General Counsel Heather Reynolds lives in Jacksonville and took the deal “across the finish line.”

She “lived and breathed it every day.”

Fuqua said TriBridge “really dug in, too.”

He also credited Morris Communications Co. LLC General Counsel Noel Schweers as “great to work with.”

Fuqua also worked with Driver, McAfee, Hawthorne & Diebenow partners Steve Diebenow and Cyndy Trimmer.

“Man alive, they got it done,” he said.

One Riverside is west of the Acosta Bridge in the Brooklyn area of Downtown along the St. Johns River.
One Riverside is west of the Acosta Bridge in the Brooklyn area of Downtown along the St. Johns River.