The owner of the Jacksonville Landing is asking the public to push city leaders to redevelop the downtown riverfront property.
Major changes to the Jacksonville Landing have been proposed for years, but Sleiman Enterprises told Action News Jax the city isn't doing their part.
Toney Sleiman said without support from the City of Jacksonville, the Landing won't be redeveloped.
"For 15 years, I've been saying we need to redevelop. We need to redevelop. It hasn't happened," said Sleiman.
Sleiman Enterprises leases the building and the city owns the land, however, Sleiman said he's looking for a partnership.
"We got to make a partnership. For 15 years, we've had lip service. That's it. That's all we had is lip service. It's time that something gets done with it," Sleiman said.
Sleiman said he's invested $1.5 million on plans, permits, meetings and town halls to have the area reconstructed.
"If you start downtown and in the core -- this is the core -- and you make this work, then the rest of downtown will work," said Sleiman.
His company wrote a letter to notify the public about their struggle in getting this project completed.
Nearly 15 years ago when Sleiman Enterprises bought the Jacksonville Landing, there was all kinds of excitement. While we're still excited about Jacksonville's iconic venue's potential, our hands are tied by politics and external forces that don't want progress.
We are now at a critical point in the Landing's life cycle. We must either undertake a complete redevelopment of the property or enter into new long-term leases of the current facilities to maintain the Landing's economic viability. The two options are incompatible with one another.
We agree with most civic leaders that a complete redevelopment of the Jacksonville Landing is best for our city and for the Landing. However, without the support of the city of Jacksonville, no redevelopment can take place. Since the city owns the land and we lease the building, we must collaborate.
For 15 years, we've worked with the city to try to make the Jacksonville Landing great. While downtown is always an administrative priority, the Landing seems to get more lip service than actual support. That lack of political support is the reason that the original developer, Rouse, sold us the Landing for pennies on the dollar.
Our company, Sleiman Enterprises, has invested more than $1.5 million in past redevelopment efforts. We even supported the city's most recent 2015 redevelopment plans.
In our company's 60 years of history, we've made significant contributions to our local retail industry and economic development. We want to do the same thing at the Landing.
If the public agrees that a full redevelopment of the Jacksonville Landing is best for the city, we ask that people communicate that to their city council representatives. If the city does not get behind redevelopment right away, the opportunity will be lost for another 10-15 years because signing new long-term leases will prevent redevelopment.
Toney, Eli and Joe Sleiman, Partners
Sleiman Enterprises, Jacksonville
Action News Jax contacted the city about the business partnership and they provided us with this statement:
Since taking office, Mayor Lenny Curry has continued to demonstrate his commitment to the development and improvement of downtown Jacksonville. As a notable and recognized landmark, the Landing should be flourishing and contributing to the area's economic growth and success. The mayor and his administration have met with Mr. Sleiman on several occasions to discuss opportunities and options for improvement. Sleiman Enterprises has demonstrated no interest in our offer and solution. Sleiman Enterprises is the obstacle. It is clear that the Landing is being mismanaged. The Mayor will not ask taxpayers to bail out a mismanaged development. Because there is pending litigation, there is no additional information to provide at this time." - Marsha Oliver, Director, Public Affairs
Sleiman said he's been using the Jacksonville Landing to help business owners like Tony Ryals, who is paralyzed and paints pictures by holding a brush in his mouth.
"He's one of the most detailed artist I've ever seen. Guess what? We charge him zero money for rent," said Sleiman.
Sleiman said if he gets the opportunity to rebuild this area, he will ensure all his current tenants who don't pay will have a spot at the Jacksonville Landing.