Three visions for a new Downtown convention center
As crews continue to prep the old City Hall Annex and Duval County Courthouse buildings for demolition, plans are coming to light.
The city invited developers in August to submit their proposals for a new convention center, hotel and parking garage. Sealed for 30 days, the bids now are public.
All require public investment.
It's not known how the projects will compete with Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan’s proposal to develop a convention center complex near TIAA Bank Field, east of the Bay Street site, or whether the city will decide to pursue another option for the area, such as a mixed-use development with a hotel, apartment complex and food hall.
At an estimated cost of $705 million, Dallas-based Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. presents the most expensive concept.
The firm is offering 713,000 square feet for exhibition space in the hotel and convention center. The entire complex, which includes a parking garage, would require building more than 1.6 million square feet, not including outdoor spaces.
Site plans show a parking garage and a retail parcel fronting East Bay Street at Newnan Street. The convention center, a hotel and a second retail parcel would be north to south between Bay Street and the St. Johns River.
According to its 253-page bid package, Jacobs will partner with planning and programming consulting firm Conventional Wisdom to operate the facilities; KBJ-L&B Architects and Fentress Architects would partner on design work; and C&ES Consultants Inc. and The Weitz Company are listed for construction and engineering work.
The company plans to work with McDonald Financial Corp. as a “conduit for the surety funding streams,” along with Signature Land Inc. and Westmont Hospitality Group – owners of the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront Hotel – to develop the project.
Westmont will be the hotel partner and would develop the $210 million hospitality component on the bank of the St. Johns River. No hotel brand is mentioned.
The company does not say how many floors or rooms the hotel would contain. The submission hints that Jacobs also could develop 200 to 350 residential units above the 1,530-space parking garage.
Jacobs shows two retail parcels – one connected to the parking garage and another in front of the convention center. Both face Bay Street.
The financial structure also differs from those offered by the other developers.
“If selected for the Convention Center project under our approach, we do not need to go in search of funding,” the company says.
Jacobs plans to privately finance the estimated $705 million in construction costs. Through at least a 25-year lease, the city would repay the company and eventually take ownership of the property and facilities.
Jacobs is asking the city to convey the land at little or no cost.
“Under this approach, the city ultimately maintains control of the land as a valuable asset without imposing undue added cost,” the company states.
If approved, the project would be completed by 2024.
Jacksonville Convention Center Partners
Jacksonville Convention Center Partners offered a vision of a 400-room hotel, a convention center with 200,000 square feet of exhibition space and a 1,800-space parking garage.
JCCP is a partnership of Dallas-based Preston Hollow Capital LLC, Mathews Southwest Hospitality LLC, Interstate Hotel and Resorts, Nunzio Marc DeSantis Architects and Provident Resources Group Inc.
The group calls the project the “Jacksonville Convention Center and Headquarters Hotel.”
Costs are estimated at $445 million with the company financing most of that funding through bonds.
The group asks the city to provide up to $229 million “through upfront contributions and ongoing incentives, in addition to the site work required to deliver pad-ready sites.”
Ownership of the facilities would revert to the city from a nonprofit entity, Provident Resources Group, created for the project. It would revert after the Downtown Investment Authority repays the bonds incurred for construction costs over a 40-year period.
Included in JCCP’s submission is a 468,393-square-foot hotel and a convention center with up to 431,000 square feet of exhibition space. It Includes 45 breakout rooms with 60,000 square feet of space, a 40,000-square-foot grand ballroom and a 22,000-square-foot junior ballroom.
The proposed hotel would be built above the convention center, rising nine stories for a 190-foot tower. It includes 400 rooms, a rooftop pool, three restaurants and other amenities.
A six-level parking garage will offer 1,837 spaces.
Interstate Hotel and Resorts will operate the hotel, although no flag is identified.
Construction is estimated to finish around 2022.
Rimrock Devlin DeBartolo
Rimrock Devlin DeBartolo Development provided three proposals to the city – one in response to the RFP for a convention center on Bay Street, another unsolicited bid for a convention center at the sports complex in a partnership with Khan’s Iguana Investments Florida Inc., and a mixed-use proposal, also unsolicited.
The development group is a partnership between Jacksonville-based Rimrock Devlin Development LLC and Tampa-based DeBartolo Development LLC.
The convention center proposal submitted Aug. 1 for Bay Street includes a 350-room hotel and a 475,000- to 520,000-square-foot convention center.
The convention center would provide 200,000 square feet of multipurpose exhibition space; a 40,000-square-foot ballroom; 48 meeting and breakout rooms; a 6,000-square-foot kitchen; outdoor function space; 1,300 parking spaces; a connection to the Downtown Northbank Riverwalk and to the neighboring Hyatt; and ground-floor retail.
While the developers don’t provide a height, the submission lists 17,500 square feet for a grand ballroom, another 6,500-square-foot junior ballroom, another 20,000-square-feet of breakout and meeting rooms, a rooftop pool and other amenities. No hotel flag is identified.
The group does not offer specifics but indicates it will need financial help from the city through incentives to help pay for the estimated $430 million to $450 million project.
“Our vision for the riverfront convention center and hotel is to create a business and revenue generating destination that will attract additional downtown development and bring more visitors and businesses to the city,” the company states in the submission.
Like its other convention center bid for the Metropolitan Park area, Rimrock Devlin DeBartolo enlists England-Thims & Miller Inc. to oversee construction and program management, urban planning, civil engineering, regulatory permitting and landscape architecture.
International architectural firm Helman Hurley Charvat Peacock Architects Inc. would design the convention center while another firm, HKS, would design the hotel.
GAI Consultants would oversee structural, marine and waterfront design, as well as other urban design and landscape architecture.
Rimrock wants the city to bear any environmental cleanup costs.
“We view the public sector as a partner in this development and it is our experience that such developments typically require some form of public subsidy,” the group states
Rimrock’s financial structure places the completed project in private ownership, with the city entering a long-term lease to operate the facilities.
According to the submission, the city would be responsible to pay for extensions of the Northbank Riverwalk and land for construction staging.
DeBartolo President Edward Kobel said previously that the company believes “the Shipyards is the optimal location for the Convention Center and hotel because of its riverfront location, ability to expand if needed, and synergies gained from its proximity to the existing sports venues and other development activities planned in the immediate area.”
If the city decides it wants to pursue a convention center project near TIAA Bank Field, Rimrock has another idea for the Bay Street site.
On Aug. 16 the group presented “Riverwalk Place,” a mixed-use development that includes a five-story, 347-unit residential complex; a nine-story, 150-room limited service hotel; a 10,000-square-foot food hall; and a 6 ½-story, 468-space parking garage.
The DIA board will decide which project works best for Jacksonville.
An evaluation committee comprising DIA CEO Aundra Wallace, city Public Works Director John Pappas and DIA board member Oliver Barakat will meet Tuesday and Wednesday with each development group.
By the Sept. 19 DIA board meeting, the evaluation committee is expected to have scored the three submissions.
From there, it will be up to the DIA and Mayor Lenny Curry’s administration to decide which route the city will pursue.
Wallace and DIA board Chair Jim Bailey have not commented on how the competing bids from Rimrock Devlin DeBartolo could affect the other convention center bids.
No contract awards or economic development agreements are expected to be completed before 2019 with construction starting next year or in 2020.