$15 million proposed settlement would terminate Jacksonville Landing lease

Jacksonville, FL — Amid an ongoing lease dispute between the City of Jacksonville and Jacksonville Landing Investments, a settlement agreement between the two parties has now been reached.

Currently, the City owns the land, but JLI has a long-term lease for the land and owns the building itself. Under this proposed settlement, the City would pay JLI $15 million, and JLI would divest all interests and give full possession of the entire property to the City.

In a joint statement, Mayor Lenny Curry and Toney Sleiman of JLI say they want to make sure the Landing and the property would see their 'best and highest use realized.' Curry has previously proposed putting a park at the site, and we've reached out to his office to see if that would still be his intent.

“The Landing has been a fixture in the community much like the Sleiman organization, who stepped in at a time when the property’s future was in doubt upon the exit of the original developer. On behalf of the citizens of Jacksonville, I appreciate their willingness to work with me so that Jacksonville can consider an alternate path forward for the location of the Landing,” says a statement from Curry.

Curry is asking for an additional $1.5 million for demolishing the site- including the buildings and landscaping- and $1.5 million to settle any subleases at the Landing. In all, that means the City would borrow $18 million, if the City Council approves the proposal.

“The JLI team and the entire Sleiman organization want to see that success continue and we are ready to see this process come to a mutually agreed conclusion,” Sleiman says, in a statement.

In 2017, JLI claimed a breach of contract by the City, alleging that they weren't living up to their end of the deal with security and exterior maintenance, among other things. The City filed a counterclaim and sought eviction, saying JLI wasn't living up to its promise to run a world-class facility.

Since that time, both parties have gone back and forth. A recent boiling point came when JLI first said they would withhold some rent in order to cover the cost of exterior maintenance it claimed the City was not carrying out as required. As recently as last month, the City rejected JLI's annual rent payment and again said the lease had been terminated.

This settlement agreement says the parties went to mediation and came to this deal in order to avoid further litigation.

It does not completely close the court docket, though. While this settlement brings an end to the lease dispute, it does not impact a prior open case that deals with the east parcel, which is a parking lot. While JLI is relinquishing control of that parcel, the litigation will continue. It's currently scheduled for a non-jury trial starting July 29th.

This settlement also requires both parties to be in close cooperation over the next few weeks. JLI will, among other things, allow for a full City inspection, will bring the City up to speed on scheduled events, will provide a full listing of subtenants, and will close out any month-to-month subleases among those businesses. The settlement agreement specifically mentions what it would take to end the subleases for two of the Landing’s more well-known restaurants- the sublease for Hooters can be terminated with 180 days notice, subject to a buyout of up to $230,000; and Fionn MacCool’s gets 180 days notice, subject to a buyout of up to $360,000.

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