Amusement rides, hotel at Berkman II Downtown seeking $36 million in incentives

Jacksonville, FL — Redevelopment of the Berkman II site on the Northbank of Downtown is expected to be a $122 million effort, and we’re now getting a better idea of what the City would be willing to offer in incentives for the project, and what that investment would bring.

A new term sheet filed for consideration by the Downtown Investment Authority says the developer is proposing a 340-room hotel, a Family Entertainment Center, a water park, and a parking garage for the site. The parking garage would actually be on the westernmost portion of the Jacksonville Shipyards, and it would include at least 200 public short-term parking spaces.

Barrington Development tells WOKV they are behind the plan, further elaborating that it includes a hotel and resort with themed restaurants. The Family Entertainment Center will include arcade games, indoor attractions like a ropes course and rock wall, and outdoor amusement rides along the St. Johns River. One such attraction envisioned for the site is a 200-foot observation wheel with enclosed acclimated gondolas with wi-fi.

“We are excited to bring Jacksonville a fun and exciting family friendly resort,” says Barrington Development Video President Cono Caranna.

The term sheet estimates the total cost of redeveloping the Berkman II site to be $122 million. The total proposed City and DIA incentives in the term sheet are $36 million.  Caranna says the incentives are “critical” to their financing of the project.

The brunt of the public incentives would come in the form of a REV grant, which is essentially a property tax rebate. That award would bring the developers up to $20 million over 20 years, in connection to the enhanced property value at the site as a result of the redevelopment. If the overall project’s capital investment falls short of $92 million, the REV grant would decrease as well. It would also reduce if the project is not completed within 60 months of the Redevelopment Agreement becoming effective.

That gives us some timeline for the possible project completion. The term sheet indicates that it expires, unless it is incorporated in to an RDA by February 28, 2019. While there would still be some time allowed to have the RDA approved by the involved parties, from there, conceivably, the five year timeline would start. The term sheet says there could be an extension in the timeline for the RDA, if all parties agree.

In addition to the REV grant, the term sheet includes an $8.25 million operational performance subsidy. This is an incentive specifically for the hotel development, which would subsidize that element for up to 15 years, through an annual payment of 5% of annual lodging revenue.

A redevelopment completion grant of $3.25 million is also proposed, and would be disbursed when the developer gets a Certificate of Occupancy for the hotel and family entertainment center.

Finally, there are incentives built in to the proposed parking garage. The term sheet has the City convey approximately 3 acres from the Shipyards site to this developer, for the garage. It would be conveyed at market price, for a total estimated cost currently of $1,635,200 on the developer. There will be a $1 million offset for environmental issues on site. In addition to the land terms, the City and DIA are proposing a $3.5 million grant to offset the cost of constructing the garage, which must have 200 public spaces.

The term sheet will go before the Downtown Investment Authority on Wednesday. If the DIA Board approves, they are authorizing the CEO to negotiate a full Redevelopment Agreement based on the terms. The City of Jacksonville Administration and City Council would still have to approve the final deal.

The developer officially purchased the long-dormant property in mid-July. A parking garage on site collapsed during construction in 2007, killing on person.

This is one of several development projects underway or under negotiations in Downtown Jacksonville. The Shipyards site is under long-running negotiations with Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan, who the DIA previously awarded development rights.

GALLERY: Shad Khan's plan for the Jacksonville Shipyards

The City is moving forward with taking down the Hart Bridge ramps that run next to the River, in order to increase the development potential on the site. Khan and the Jags are also seeking to redevelop the Sports Complex overall, to include a first-phase project at Lot J.

During the Wednesday DIA meeting, the Board will also be presented with scores on three proposals that were submitted to build a Convention Center, hotel, and parking garage at the site of the old Courthouse/City Hall Annex site.

GALLERY: Convention Center proposal from Jacobs Project Management Company

GALLERY: Convention Center proposal from Preston Hallow Capital

GALLERY: Convention Center proposal from Rimrock Devlin-DeBartolo Jacksonville

At that time, the DIA CEO will also bring forward a competing plan to build the Convention Center at the Shipyards site, and a competing plan to build a development know as "Riverwalk Place" at the old Courthouse/City Hall Annex site.

With this property right across the street from the Duval County Jail, WOKV asked Caranna if they have given much thought and consideration to that proximity. He says it’s nothing they can’t overcome.

“We are trying to focus everything to the back side of the buildings, blocking the view of our neighbors across the street; we believe it lends a level of safety and security having the police as our neighbors,” Caranna says, in a written statement.

Barrington Development is also behind the Margaritaville Resort in Biloxi, the Margaritaville Hotel in Vicksburg, and The White House Hotel in Biloxi.

mobile apps

Everything you love about wokv.com and more! Tap on any of the buttons below to download our app.

amazon alexa

Enable our Skill today to listen live at home on your Alexa Devices!