A look at five Downtown projects under construction and four facing an uncertain future.
- By Mike Mendenhall
- | 12:10 a.m. September 29, 2023
Four Seasons Hotel & Residences
The city is reviewing construction permits at project costs of $245 million for Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan’s $387 million, 170-room Four Seasons Hotel & Residences and six-story office building. Horizontal construction started in June, about a month before the five-star hotel chain’s corporate arm confirmed it was partnering with Khan’s Iguana Investments Florida LLC on the development. The most costly project under construction Downtown, Iguana received approval for $129.75 million in city incentives in January to build the project on the Shipyards Property near EverBank Stadium.
The Downtown Development Review Board awarded conceptual design approval Sept. 14 for the marina support building portion of the project.
City Downtown Investment Authority CEO Lori Boyer said during the agency’s July 20 board meeting that the city is reviewing design plans for the marina and St. Johns River bulkhead that will support the hotel-anchored project.
The historic Laura Street Trio redevelopment includes apartments, a hotel and restaurant.
Laura Street Trio
The latest iteration in developer and building owner Steve Atkins’ decadelong attempt to restore and adapt the historic Laura Street Trio could come before City Council before the end of 2023, but he is still working through uncertainties.
The DIA board voted 5-1 in June to send a term sheet for $36.55 million in city-backed historic forgivable loans and property tax breaks to Council without a recommendation for or against the deal.
The agreement is reliant on a $27 million completion grant for a total $63.56 million city incentives package.
Atkins, principal of Southeast Development Group, proposes a $175.1 million multifamily, hotel and restaurant development for the Trio property at Forsyth and Laura streets.
Atkins, Southeast Development Group attorney Jason Gabriel, of the Burr & Forman law firm, and project lobbyist Deno Hicks, principal of Converge Public Strategies, indicated June 23 that Council might be asked to amend that deal.
Southeast is working with Council members Michael Boylan and Matt Carlucci to propose an incentives package that includes a construction loan or a mix of loans and completion grants, they said.
It’s not clear when the final cost of the proposed investment will be finalized.
Gabriel, a former city general counsel, and Carlucci are working with city attorneys to draft legislation, according to DIA CEO Lori Boyer.
Boyer said it will be “interesting” to see how Council reacts to incentive proposals for the proposed $500 million Pearl Street District or Related Group’s Southbank tower, which she says will have at least a return on investment for the city of $1 for every $1 spent.
“If Council is not OK with those, they’re certainly not going to be OK with ones that don’t meet the ROI of 1,” she said.
If Council awards the historic forgiviable loans and completion grant, the ROI will fall below a 1:1 ratio for the city, according to the DIA.
In September 2021, Council approved a $26.67 million incentive deal for the Trio renovation that has since expired. That agreement did not include the multifamily residential.
Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing Park is under construction in LaVilla.
Johnson Commons town homes/Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing Park
Corner Lot Development Group and JWB Real Estate Capital LLC said in August they’ve sold 18 of the 91 town homes they are developing on a 3.45-acre lot in Downtown’s historic LaVilla neighborhood. The town homes at Johnson Commons are the only for-sale residential products under construction Downtown. Corner Lot says they are priced in the mid-to-high $300,000s.
City Council agreed to convey the land, appraised in 2019 at $3.58 million, to the Johnson Commons partnership for $100 in exchange for keeping the prices affordable for middle-income buyers, what the city considers “the missing middle.” The 91-unit project will take two years to complete, according to Corner Lot.
It is adjacent to the Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing Park under construction. The nonprofit Jessie Ball duPont Fund raised $5 million to help pay for the design and construction of the city park that honors former Jacksonville resident and “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” composer James Weldon Johnson and writer J. Rosamond Johnson.
Rise:Doro is under construction next to 121 Financial Ballpark and VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena and near EverBank Stadium.
Work began in September to install the rooftop pool at Rise: Doro, a mixed-used and multifamily building at A. Philip Randolph Blvd. in the Sports Complex. Jacksonville-based RISE: A Real Estate Company demolished the 107-year-old George Doro Fixture Co. building in March 2021 to clear the site for the project. It is next to 121 Financial Ballpark and VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena and near EverBank Stadium.
The $67 million, 247-unit building with ground-floor retail and a rooftop pool is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.
Riverfront Plaza is the park at the former site of The Jacksonville Landing.
Contractor J.B. Coxwell broke ground in July on what the city envisions as a “destination” 7-acre riverfront park at the former site of The Jacksonville Landing.
According to the DIA, the current construction work is related to rerouting Water Street and expanding the future footprint of the park.
The first phase is funded at $27.5 million, but DIA CEO Lori Boyer said Sept. 20 that money for the second phase has not been included in Mayor Donna Deegan’s fiscal 2024-28 Capital Improvement Plan and the DIA is advocating for more appropriation to build the full park as designed by landscape architect Perkins & Will.
The DIA says the park’s proposed centerpiece sculpture in design by Orlando-based artist Jefrë will likely be funded by private donations.
One Riverside includes apartments, retail and a Whole Foods Market.
Construction on the parking garage and first-phase residential and retail continues for TriBridge Residential LLC and Fuqua Development’s $250 million riverfront apartment and retail project One Riverside in Brooklyn.
The Atlanta-based developers’ plans for the former Florida Times-Union newspaper site include 270 apartments, a Whole Foods Market, retail, restaurant and a 625-space parking garage.
When Fuqua can complete the first-phase retail space depends on the city completing site infrastructure. The city expects to start construction on rerouting and restoration of McCoys Creek, which flows through the site, in October. Substantial completion is March 2025, which is more than a year behind schedule, DIA CEO Lori Boyer said.
According to the DIA, there were delays obtaining approvals from the Florida Department of Transportation to begin construction of the creek outfall under the Acosta Bridge ramps. The longer the creek construction is delayed, the longer it could take to build a service road that will allow the project’s planned Whole Foods Market to be occupied and open.
“The developer is certainly expressing concern over the costs he is incurring as a result of that,” Boyer told the DIA board Sept. 20.
City Council is scheduled to vote in October on legislation that will extend performance schedules in Fuqua BCDC One Riverside Project Owner LLC’s development agreement with the city.
The Related Group Southbank apartment and restaurant development sits on the former River City Brewery property.
Related Group Southbank
In April, Miami-based Related Group announced it was dropping its plans to build a mid-rise apartment complex at the former River City Brewery site on the Downtown Southbank in favor of a 24-story residential tower.
The latest project with 410 residential units and a 535-space parking garage would keep the waterfront restaurant.
The cost estimate has not been released, but DIA CEO Lori Boyer said Related is working to add more ground-floor retail to increase the city’s return on investment and qualify for a completion grant in addition to a Recapture Enhanced Value Grant, a property tax refund.
Boyer said the current proposal has a financial gap of $15 million that Related needs to fill to make the project feasible.
She said Related recently met with DIA staff and the mayor to discuss its proposal.
According to the DIA, a new plan could be released and up for a board vote in October or November before it heads to City Council.
The Downtown Development Review Board awarded conceptual approval for the project design in April.
Related acquired the 3.02-acre property at 835 Museum Circle from the city in August 2021 when it bought the restaurant’s leasehold for $10 million and originally proposed a $99 million, 326-unit apartment project with $18,27 million in city incentives.
American Lions is a residential tower planned on 1 acre of Riverfront Plaza, the former Jacksonville Landing site.
The DIA has been negotiating with New York City-based American Lions LLC since the authority board approved a $36.93 million incentives package a year ago for the proposed 44-story, mixed-use residential tower on 1 acre of Riverfront Plaza, the former Jacksonville Landing site.
According to DIA CEO Lori Boyer, the Donna Deegan administration “has been clear” the mayor would not support a $27.5 million city construction loan to complete the project that is part of that deal.
“Unless there is a market adjustment in interest rates or construction costs, that one’s going to be a tough one to move forward right now,” Boyer said.
She said the developer has the equity and financing capability for the project.
Boyer said the loan could not be converted to a project completion grant and still meet the city’s required return on investment of $1 for every $1 invested. The grant would not be repaid to the city, which helped the deal’s return on investment.
Boyer said a smaller city cash incentive means the developer would lose money on the project.
The DIA also does not have firm construction costs for the project and estimates the initial $155 million estimate from American Lions is “understated” due to escalation in costs, Boyer said.
The project’s multilevel retail and parking elements are integrated into the Riverfront Plaza park design. If the tower is shelved, the property would have to be put back out for bid, taken off the market or the park’s second phase redesigned.