DIA approves moving forward with Riverfront Plaza restaurant

Additional design work and public input will be part of the process as the project proceeds.

  • By Max Marbut
  • | 7:04 p.m. February 21, 2024
  • | 4 Free Articles Remaining!
The restaurant site is planned for the southwest corner of Riverfront Plaza along the St. Johns River.
The restaurant site is planned for the southwest corner of Riverfront Plaza along the St. Johns River.
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The Downtown Investment Authority board of directors voted 7-1 on Feb. 21 to continue planning a waterfront restaurant at Riverfront Plaza, the former Jacksonville Landing site.

Truist Financial Senior Vice President Jim Citrano Jr.

Board Chair Jim Citrano Jr. was the lone vote against Resolution 2024-02-02.

Citrano said he opposed the resolution because a restaurant built along the river at the site would obstruct the view of the St. Johns River.

“I think this is the wrong portion of the site to put an enclosed structure,” Citrano said.

Before the resolution was discussed, several members of the public spoke against the restaurant proposal. Several representatives of JAX Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee spoke in favor of it.

A conceptual plan for a restaurant layout in Riverfront Plaza.

The resolution as approved is amended to add a community workshop to allow additional design work and public input concerning the concept, DIA CEO Lori Boyer said.

City Council member Jimmy Peluso said he supports having more public input, as well as additional consultation with Perkins & Will, the firm the city retained to design the site for the 7-acre space along the river near the Main Street Bridge.

The design from Perkins & Will includes a cafe and a beer garden in the second phase of the project, while the proposed riverfront restaurant is added to the first phase of the park’s development.

Peluso also suggested that the city should form an advisory body to provide input.

A conceptual rendering of a restaurant design at Riverfront Plaza by Will & Perkins.

Melissa Ross, director of strategic initiatives for Mayor Donna Deegan, said the mayor’s office is working to better accommodate the public’s desire for more input on riverfront projects, with a first meeting tentatively scheduled March 6.

“We want to make sure we are responding to the public’s concerns,” Ross said.

“It is important to have the public involved on the front end instead of the back end,” board member Sondra Fetner said.

Boyer said after the site design is reevaluated with input from Perkins & Will and the public, the proposed lease and possible operators for the restaurant will be presented to the board for its approval.

A request for proposals for an architect to design the structure and provide a cost estimate for the restaurant is “on the street,” Boyer said.

“We will see this multiple times before the shovel goes in the ground,” Citrano said.



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