Jacksonville, FL — The skyline of Downtown Jacksonville is forever changed, with the implosion of the City Hall Annex.
With the Annex gone and the adjacent old County Courthouse being demolished, WOKV is looking at what the future of the site holds.
The Annex was built close to 60 years ago, and the Courthouse went up a couple of years prior to that. Both building have been vacant for years, but still standing on their Riverfront properties on the Northbank of Downtown.
The contractor over the implosion and demolition is responsible- under the nearly $8 million contract with the City- for not only carrying out the demo, but removing the rubble and restoring the sites. There is no timeline currently available for when demolition of the Courthouse will be complete, or what the site restoration for both plots will be done.
WOKV asked the City what they want to happen next with the properties, and we were told “the highest and best use of the sites have yet to be determined”.
Several options have been floated in the past, though, which could offer some insight.
Most of last year, Jacksonville's Downtown Investment Authority reviewed bids that had been submitted for a Convention Center and hotel in that area- even choosing the top bid and commencing negotiations. Those were ceased at the end of the year, though, after Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry asked for the project to be pushed in to the future, after more had been put up around the area to support the demand for a Convention Center.
Around the time the Convention Center bids were being considered, an offer of a different development at the same location called "Riverwalk Place" was also put forward. The vision there is that the site be used for a mixed-use "lifestyle community" with a multi-restaurant venue, apartments, and more. This was put forward in conjunction with plans to have a Convention Center instead be the first phase of redevelopment at the Shipyards site. Jaguars owner Shad Khan was selected as the master developer for the Shipyards, and is still in negotiations with the City.
GALLERY: "Riverwalk Place" proposal
Overall, it’s a valuable area. The Duval County Property Appraiser’s website lists the value of the Annex land alone as more than $2.8 million. The old Courthouse site comes in even higher, at nearly $3.6 million, but that assessment does also include the adjacent parking deck, which is being separately demolished and reconstructed.
That stretch of Downtown Jacksonville is in motion- the nearby long-vacant Berkman II Plaza is being redeveloped in to a hotel and entertainment center, the Shipyards negotiations are ongoing, and Khan has a greater vision for redeveloping the Sports Complex overall, which could soon include a new plan for "Lot J".
The Hart Bridge ramps in Downtown are also coming down, which is something the City believes will unlock even more development potential.
WOKV will continue to follow the aftermath of the implosion and what the City ultimately determines it wants to do next with the site.