Request for $5.5 million in incentives for the Phoenix Arts & Innovation District heads to Council

A resolution for the project is on the May 28 meeting agenda along with a rezoning request for multifamily development.

  • By Ric Anderson
  • | 12:26 p.m. May 24, 2024
  • | 4 Free Articles Remaining!
The Phoenix Arts & Innovation District comprises 10 properties across 8.3 acres in North Springfield. It will begin with two properties at 2320 and 2336 N. Liberty St.
The Phoenix Arts & Innovation District comprises 10 properties across 8.3 acres in North Springfield. It will begin with two properties at 2320 and 2336 N. Liberty St.
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Plans to transform a cluster of industrial buildings in North Springfield into the Phoenix Arts & Innovation District are poised to move forward May 28, when the Jacksonville City Council is scheduled to begin considering a $5.5 million deal for the project.

Resolution 2024-0418 would provide a $1.5 million city Recapture Enhanced Value grant for the $37.9 million project, plus $2 million completion grants each for Phase One and Phase Two of construction. 

Miami-based Future of Cities development group is planning the Phoenix district on an 8.3-acre site two miles north of Downtown. The project is expected to include restaurants, artists’ studios, a market area, co-working space, offices, retail and event space. 

The site is bordered by Main, 15th and Liberty streets and an east-west rail line, with three parcels south of the line.

Companies owned by Future of Cities began buying property in the district in 2020.

The Ground Level Land Use Master Plan for the Phoenix Arts & Innovation District.

The city’s REV grant would provide a refund on ad valorem tax revenue generated by the new development over 15 years. 

According to a fact sheet attached to the resolution, Phase One comprises $14.15 million in renovation of two buildings at 2320 and 2336 N. Liberty St., with construction beginning in June and completion scheduled for June 30, 2025.

As part of the first phase, Future of Cities will lease a finished 150-square-foot interior space at 2320 N. Liberty St. to the city for use in supporting small-business growth and development in the project and surrounding area. Conference rooms will be made available to Jacksonville Small and Emerging Businesses (JSEB) and city staff under the three-year lease, in which the city will pay $1 a year.

In the second phase, two buildings at 2402 and 2303 Market St. will be renovated at an estimated $23.79 million. The completion grant will be disbursed in two $1 million portions, one for each building. 

As part of the city’s incentive agreement with Future of Cities, the developer has committed to using JSEB contractors for 20% of the construction, or $800,000. 

The city lists the project’s return on investment at $1.07 for every $1 of public funding provided.

Plans for the Phoenix Arts & Innovation District include green infrastructure initiatives including solar energy generation improvements, a water harvesting strategy to support irrigation, and EV charging stations.

The resolution includes a request for the Council to pass it on two readings versus the standard three. Council rules allow for two-reading passage of some incentive agreements supported by the Office of Economic Development and mayor’s office. 

The incentives apply to a portion of Future of Cities’ broader plan for the area, which totals four phases of construction that will also include residential and hotel properties. 

In its May 28 meeting, Council will also consider a rezoning request to allow multifamily and town home development for the project. The rezoning change comes to Council in Ordinance 2024-0348. 

The district is located along the S-Line Rail Trail, which will connect Springfield to LaVilla through a 4.8-mile multi-use path. The rails-to-trails project is part of the 30-mile Emerald Trail system of pedestrian/bicycle paths, greenways and parks under construction in central Jacksonville. 

According to Groundwork Jacksonville, a nonprofit partnering with the city to develop the trail, 3.5 miles of the S-Line has been completed. The remaining stretch runs from 12th and Boulevard Streets to East 21st Street. 

During a March 2024 event to commemorate the awarding of $147 million in federal funding for the Emerald Trail, Future of Cities principal Tony Cho said the trail was one of the main reasons he chose the site and invested in Jacksonville. 



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