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Southbank Riverwalk to receive full upgrade without additional cost
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Southbank Riverwalk to receive full upgrade without additional cost

Southbank Riverwalk to receive full upgrade without additional cost
Photo Credit: Stephanie Brown

Southbank Riverwalk to receive full upgrade without additional cost

 

Jacksonville’s Southbank Riverwalk will now be a unified concrete project, and that comes at no additional cost to you.

Upgrading the current wood structure is already underway, but a legal agreement from the 1980s allows Riverfront properties to have a say on adjacent city construction. When the Riverwalk construction was launched last year and until as recently as last week, the Crowne Plaza on the Southbank had not agreed to the upgrades.

“We were at a point where we had to make a decision to keep the project on schedule and budget,” says Public Works Director Jim Robinson.

$15 million was allocated for the project several years ago, but various obstacles held up construction. When the project finally did launch, the $15 million was no longer sufficient to cover the entire span. That led City Council to allocate an additional $2 million several weeks ago.

At the time of that allocation, the plan was to replace the old wood in front of the Crowne Plaza with new wood,  but no other features in the project design for the rest of the Southbank Riverwalk could be included. Councilman Don Redman was still negotiating with the hotel leadership, however, and the Council was told that a change in the plans could potentially lead to a change in the cost of the project once again.

Through several meetings over the past two weeks, Redman, the hotel and the contractor were able to reach an agreement.

“Very minimal impact on our guests and travelers,” says Crowne Plaza General Manager Shawn Frisbee.

Haskell, the contractor, has agreed to shift around resources to do the heaviest work at the Crowne Plaza in a 16 day timeframe. Haskell Group President Pete Kinsley says they believe this construction window is realistic now that they have gotten a grasp on the underwater conditions.

“It was just getting a better understanding of the subsurface conditions and what it was going to take to do the work,” he says.

That timeframe will span July 20-August 1. Construction will continue past that point, but the loudest work, driving in the Riverwalk piles, must be completed.

Robinson says Haskell got their subcontractors to continue to hold prices past the initial deadline that was laid out in order to give the Crowne Plaza negotiations a last shot. That allows them to make the project design changes at this stage without needing more funding. The Crowne Plaza has requested a new staircase in to Ruth Cris Steakhouse which would cost about $40,000, according to emails I’ve obtained, but the City says that can be absorbed through built in contingency funding.

He says the timeline for completion will also not be affected despite shifting the crews to accommodate the expedited timeline at the Crowne Plaza. The Southbank Riverwalk is scheduled to be completely upgraded by February.

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