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Timeline set for recommending Shipyards/Riverfront developer
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Timeline set for recommending Shipyards/Riverfront developer

Timeline set for recommending Shipyards/Riverfront developer
Photo Credit: Action News Jax

Timeline set for recommending Shipyards/Riverfront developer

We could know in less than a month who will take the next shot at redeveloping the Jacksonville Shipyards and Riverfront property.

The Downtown Investment Authority Evaluation Committee met briefly Monday to formally begin its review process. Three bids have been submitted to tackle the project, and DIA CEO Aundra Wallace says those proposals have been “under lock and key” until today, so they all start on even footing.

“Looks like we’re gunna have some interesting reviews coming up,” Wallace says.

WOKV has spoken with developers behind each of the three proposals. Iguana Investments Florida, LLC- backed by Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan, has pitched the “Shipyards”, which is mixed use with substantial green space, residential, business, retail. It also features a luxury hotel that would connect to EverBank Field and a pedestrian bridge park, modeled after New York’s High Line.

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Jacksonville Shipyards proposal

Presidium Group LLC’s “Sea Glass by the Shipyards” involves starting with entertainment venues- like the USS Adams and an aquarium- to boost foot traffic, then following it with residential, hotel, business, and retail. The focal point would be a 1,000 foot Sea Glass Tower, which includes an observation deck.

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Sea Glass at the Shipyards renderings

Wess Holdings, LLC envisions a “jobs factory” in its “Jax ONE Innovation District” bid. Backers aim to create a space for innovators to explore, test, and grow their ideas, then get connected with financial backing if the ideas are viable. While the focus of the bid is the sustainable jobs concept, other features like hotels, park space, residential area, and the USS Adams would be included as well- according to market needs.

Wess Holdings
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JaxONE Innovation District

Photo Credit: Wess Holdings

Wallace says, because he hasn’t personally reviewed the bids, he’s not yet sure which aligns best for their overall plan for Downtown, but the development vision is heavily weighted in the review process- for 45 out of 100 points on their scoresheet. Financial offering and capacity is the second factor, weighted for 35 points. Development team qualifications and experience is the final metric, for 20 points.

“Making sure that not only there’s the financial capacity to do a deal, but it’s also the technical and management capacity to undertake this particular project, and making sure that the visions are in line with what we’ve set forth in our business and investment plan that the Downtown Investment Authority has approved,” Wallace says.

This redevelopment push follows another attempt that started just about two years ago, with that bid specifically for the Shipyards site, while this time around the Met Park area is included as well. There were three proposals submitted two years ago, although only one from Iguana Investments Florida, LLC did all the needed paperwork and scored highly. Negotiations ultimately stalled on that proposal, although two of the key features- an amphitheater and practice field for the Jaguars- were tackled as a separate project funded by the team and the City.

Wallace says, while he hasn’t reviewed the details yet, he believes this time around the bids are on more solid footing.

“Looking at the body of work that all three entities have done beforehand, the capacity level seems to be there under this particular round of proposals, most certainly,” he says.

With that said, he’s “highly anxious” to get the review process started so that they can make a recommendation and ultimately see negotiations begin.

“Sooner that we’re able to get to some type of decision and get negotiations and start moving, you know, the better we’re off for Jacksonville,” Wallace says.

Wallace, DIA Board Member Ron Moody, and Public Works Director John Pappas for the Evaluation Committee. They’ve agreed to independently score the proposals by April 12th. The Procurement Division will then average out the scores, and the rankings will be presented to the full DIA Board April 19th.

Despite being in this spot before, Wallace says he’s not frustrated that the redevelopment hasn’t yet happened. He’s asking for your patience, noting that this is a large and complex property and that there are still environmental issues the City will have to address as part of these redevelopment efforts.

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