Jacksonville, FL - Jacksonville Landing businesses are officially on notice- it’s time to close up shop.
Just a few weeks ago, the Jacksonville City Council approved a $15 million deal to terminate the lease between the City, which owns the land the Landing is on, and Toney Sleiman’s Jacksonville Landing Investments, which owned and operated the building itself. They set aside an additional $1.5 million to settle any remaining subleases and use toward possible business relocations, as well as $1.5 million to demolish the building.
That vote formally started a close-out period, where the City had up to 45 days to perform the final due diligence and get the paperwork done. Now, 36 days later, the remaining businesses operating at the Landing have received notice from the City that the ownership transition has taken place, and everyone needs to clear out.
Businesses were notified today by Jacksonville Landing Investments that ownership had officially transferred to the City. Here's what most of those notices looked like: pic.twitter.com/c6jfAFpiqh— Stephanie Brown (@SBrownReports) May 1, 2019
There are a few different versions of the letters obtained by WOKV. For some tenants, who were on a month-to-month lease already, they have been given a 30-day notice to clear out their space and vacate. It’s a similar message given to other tenants who weren’t specifically listed as month-by-month, but the City cites an “option to terminate” clause in the leases. At least one business is currently in default of its lease, according to the letter. The City is giving that business the option to remedy the default, but also giving it notice that it must be out in 30 days as well.
Two of the long-term lease terminations raise questions of how quickly the City will be able to move forward with plans to demolish the building, though. The letter to Hooters says they are getting 180 days before the sublease is terminated, and- per their agreement- they will be paid $303,333.31 when the property is surrendered. The letter to Compass Bank gives notice of the sublease termination effective February 1, 2021.
Some of the terminations are not as straightforward on paper. Two of the long term leases are Compass Bank and Hooters, and their termination letters show a longer time frame. pic.twitter.com/i38gWeNsof— Stephanie Brown (@SBrownReports) May 1, 2019
Fionn MacCool’s is another long-term lease, but we have not yet received their termination letter. They do have specific buyout terms in their lease, similar to Hooters.
During the City Council vote in March, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry’s Administration had said they were having good talks with Compass Bank. WOKV asked today if they believe they will be able to close out that lease before the current February 2021 end, and a City Spokeswoman tells us she can’t comment because it is a legal matter, but she will have more “very soon”.
The Administration previously said they anticipated lease close-outs to take up to four months from when they took ownership of the building. Some of the businesses at the Landing tell us they were caught off guard by these notices, but the City maintains they have been in communication with the owners and will continue to offer resources, including possible incentives to help relocations staying in Downtown.
After the close outs, the City wants to demolish the building, and it already has the funding approved to tackle that. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry has spoken about a mixed-use concept that involves green space as well as some structures for development. While there is no specific concept that’s been put forward recently, he released a rendering nearly a year ago that appears to still match that vision.
A City Spokeswoman tells WOKV they plan to have a proposal out soon for what to do on the site after demolition.
The City officially taking over ownership marks the end to years of growing tension between the City and JLI over this property. The situation escalated when the parties went to court, with JLI arguing that the City was failing to live up to its maintenance and security obligations, and the City contending JLI was failing to deliver on its promised vision to be a world-class facility.
Until the building is clear, the City is not providing an updated timeline on when the facility will be demolished.