The Jacksonville Beach City Council says a proposal to replace the Adventure Landing amusement and water park with a 415-unit apartment community can move forward.
The council voted 7-0 on two bills Nov. 7 to approve Trevato Development Group’s application to rezone the property and amend the city’s comprehensive plan to demolish the theme park on Beach Boulevard for an apartment community with about 5,000 square feet of retail and office space.
Trevato bought the Adventure Landing site at 1944 Beach Blvd. in February 2021 through JB Fair Park MF LLC.
The Council approved the rezoning and land use change after more than a year of deferrals, indecision by the Jacksonville Beach Planning Commission and concessions by Trevato.
Before the vote, Driver, McAfee, Hawthorne & Diebenow partner Steve Diebenow, who represents the developer, agreed to the Council’s request to drop the number of apartments from the original proposal’s 427 units as a compromise to residents’ concerns about the traffic of a high-density complex.
Other concessions to the rezoning approval included adding 30 units of affordable housing and submitting a study showing the streets in the surrounding area could handle the traffic impact.
Diebenow said after the meeting that the project timeline has construction beginning as early as the first quarter of 2024 with completion in 2025.
“We’re grateful for the City Council’s collaboration in this process, and look forward to proceed with the design and permitting process,” he said.
Adventure Landing owner Hank Woodburn said the theme park will close at the end of the year.
Before Council took a preliminary vote on the ordinances Oct. 18, Diebenow agreed to the condition to make 7% of the apartment units available to renters who meet the state’s income qualification for affordable housing.
That was after Trevato’s first offer to reserve 5% of the units for affordable or workforce housing, a response to a request from the planning commission.
On Nov. 7, the Council and Diebenow agreed to make that number a flat 30 units — 7.23%
“If we were to try and put any (multifamily) housing anywhere at the beach, this is the most logical place to put it with the exception of at the end of JTB,” Jacksonville Beach City Council member Georgette Dumont said.
She reminded residents that the city is bound by rules that require them to approve the application if it complied with the goals of the Jacksonville Beach comprehensive plan.
“I know that this has been a year-long project with a lot of emotion attached to it because it’s on the Adventure Landing land,” she said. “... I believe that Council has gotten to a place where residents are getting something out of this where it could be that we got nothing.”
Jacksonville Beach Director of Planning and Development Heather Ireland said the city population has grown by 10% since 2011, creating the need for more housing.
Community members continued to speak out against the apartments Nov. 7.
Jacksonville Beach resident Duke Lewis said the planning commission’s inability to reach a recommendation whether or not to approve the project, and its desire for more time to review the application, should have given the City Council pause.
“This does not benefit any citizen of the beach. It benefits the developer,” Lewis said. “This property was purchased on a bankruptcy and it was almost as though he purchased a lotto ticket and he’s asking you to scratch it off and make it the big winner.”
The Trevato project comprises 53.8 acres, but only 10.9 acres will be developed. That’s a 40% reduction in the total land development as permitted by the city of Jacksonville Beach Comprehensive Plan.
The remainder would be conservation land.
Adventure Landing makes up 22.2 acres of the site.
Trevato adjusted its original plans in an effort to gain the rezoning approval.
The latest site plan increases the property’s conservation and recreation areas from 6.83 acres to 19.43 acres while reducing the planned land zoned for Community Commercial and Low Density Residential uses by half the original request.
According to Trevato, 1,800 square feet of the commercial space would be a restaurant or coffee shop open to the public.
The remaining 3,200 square feet includes retail, office, personal service and child care as permitted uses.
The developer asked the planning commission in December to defer the rezoning and land use amendment to make the changes.
Diebenow does not expect the average size of the units, 850 square feet, to change. He said at the September planning commission meeting the average monthly rent for the market rate units would likely be $2,250 to $2,400.
The original plan was estimated to cost $80 million. It called for four three-story buildings with 8,000 square feet of leasing, club and fitness space, and a 400-space parking garage.
Diebenow said in September that cost is likely up to $100 million, but he said the developer does not have final projections.
In exchange for approval, Trevato also agreed to:
• Pay for $25,000 of design and permitting costs for the city to build pedestrian access off Shetter Avenue to a viewing platform that extends south from the property and provide easements to the city to create a public access to the urban trail system, the walkway and platform.
• Make a parcel of land available to the city in the northwest corner of the property to accommodate a “Welcome to Jacksonville Beach” sign the would be designed and built by the city.
• Protect and preserve some the Live Oak trees on the property.
• Control the effects of lights from automobiles or other sources on the property.