Belvedere Terminals Co. project poised to take off as Council committees endorse incentives

The company plans to build a fuel storage and transfer facility in the CSX Transportation Intermodal Jacksonville.

  • By Ric Anderson
  • | 12:00 a.m. June 19, 2024
  • | 4 Free Articles Remaining!
Belvedere Terminals Co. plans to construct the $82.75 million fuel depot on leased property at 5902 Sportsman Club Road in the CSX Transportation Intermodal Jacksonville site.
Belvedere Terminals Co. plans to construct the $82.75 million fuel depot on leased property at 5902 Sportsman Club Road in the CSX Transportation Intermodal Jacksonville site.
  • Government
  • Share

After two years of trying unsuccessfully to obtain approvals from the city of Jacksonville to develop on two different sites, Belvedere Terminals Co. is poised to move ahead in its efforts to build a fuel storage depot.

On June 17 and June 18, City Council committees voted in favor of a $1.5 million Large Scale Economic Development Grant for Belvedere to construct the $82.75 million fuel depot on leased property at 5902 Sportsman Club Road in the CSX Transportation Intermodal Jacksonville site.

The Rules and Finance committees voted unanimously on an amended version of Ordinance 2024-0461, which included the incentive. 

The outcomes set the stage for likely passage of the ordinance when it goes before the full Council on June 25.

R. Brett James

In return, Belvedere has requested that the city withdraw legislation on an appeal filed by the company after R. Brett James, director of Planning and Development for the city, issued an adverse opinion over whether the plant could be built on a 101-acre parcel zoned light industrial in Dinsmore.

James, in a letter to Belvedere, said the city’s light-industrial land use category allowed for storage and transfer of materials, but not expressly flammable fuels. He stated that fuel storage and transfer were allowed on property zoned heavy industrial. 

Belvedere argued that under previous planning directors, the city had routinely allowed fuel storage operations on light-industrial zoned land. The company was prepared to argue that if Council sided with James on the matter, operators of nearly four dozen fuel depots on light-industrial properties would be out of compliance. 

The Land Use and Zoning Committee voted 5-0 to approve the withdrawal at its June 18 meeting. Members Rory Diamond and Rahman Johnson were not present for the vote.

At the CSX site, zoned heavy industrial, Belvedere plans to build a spur where gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and biodiesel from the company’s loading facility in Collins, Mississippi, is offloaded into storage tanks and then transferred to tractor-trailers for transportation to retailers. A workforce of up to 20 will be hired under Phase I plans, the company says, and further hirings are possible in future phases that would increase the company’s investment to more than $100 million. 

The CSX Transportation Intermodal Jacksonville site is along Sportsman Club Road north of Pritchard Road and west of Interstate 295.

According to city documents, the average salary for the new jobs will be $63,670.

Council member Randy White, who will succeed Ron Salem as Council president beginning July 1, helped broker the compromise after raising safety concerns about the two previous sites, located near residential properties. 

Before joining the Council, White spent 32 years as a Jacksonville Fire and Rescue firefighter and department administrator. Johnson, whose District 14 is adjacent to the Dinsmore site, also worked with the company after becoming concerned about safety issues involving nearby residences and the site’s proximity to Interstate 10.

Plans for the Dinsmore site along Garden Street between Imeson and Paxton roads drew heavy opposition from nearby residents, several of whom turned out for Council meetings. 

City Council member Randy White

“We compromised and they have finally found a site that is a suitable solution,” White said during the Rules Committee meeting. 

The amendment on the incentive ordinance allows for waivers of the city’s Public Investment Policy, which normally caps LSEDC grants at $600,000 and limits them to projects that create a minimum of 50 jobs.

In addition, the funding would be offered to Belvedere before completion of Phase I. Terms of the proposed incentive agreement between the company and the city call for Belvedere to obtain a long-term lease and have $750,000 worth of contracts for the site in hand before obtaining the grant.

The agreement also contains clawbacks for the city if Belvedere fails to bring the project to fruition. 

The Council auditor’s office noted that grants are generally awarded on completion of a project or upon meeting long-term thresholds, with auditor Phillip Peterson telling the Rules Committee, “Advances are always a concern of our office.” 

White acknowledged that the arrangement was “doing things ahead of the cart,” but he and other Council members said they felt it was appropriate given that Belvedere had made good-faith expenditures toward developing on the light-industrial zoned sites before getting the adverse opinion from James.

Attorney Jason Gabriel, who represents Belvedere, said the company had spent upward of $4 million on due diligence for the sites. 

“This city did run this company through the muck trying to get to this point,” Council member Kevin Carrico said. 

Council members said they were pleased with the outcome. Ed Randolph, executive director of the city Office of Economic Development, said the agreement would generate a return of investment of $5.33 for every $1 of incentive funding. Randolph said Belvedere had begun site preparation work at the intermodal property. 

“I think it’s a great result,” Finance Committee chair Nick Howland said of the compromise. “Belvedere is going to invest $82 million in our community, and of course we charge millage on capital and property, plant and equipment. So it’s going to have a strong return on investment for the city.” 



Special Offer: $5 for 2 Months!

Your free article limit has been reached this month.
Subscribe now for unlimited digital access to our award-winning business news.