Jacksonville, FL — The Food Court at The Jacksonville Landing has closed, and the Landing says they struggle to commercially compete because the City continues to fall short in its support. They plan to start addressing some of the shortfalls, while withholding rent to cover the costs.
This is part of an ongoing dispute between the City and the Landing, with Jacksonville Landing Investments Chief Operating Officer Michael McNaughton saying the City is not doing exterior care and maintenance on the property, which it is responsible for.
"The Landing Docks have been inaccessible and in a state of disrepair for years. As a water centric city, turning away and depriving throngs of people hoping to disembark at The Landing and points beyond hurts not only The Landing but all of downtown, stifling economic activity and civic engagement," says a statement from McNaughton.
He further says the landscaping is unkempt, sidewalks are deteriorating, lighting is in disrepair, and more.
“Like many of the properties [sic] physical attributes, public perception of The Landing is deteriorating. This trend must be addressed,” he says.
In announcing the closing of the Food Court, McNaughton says there was a lack of support and sales from people who work and live in the area. He blames the ongoing eviction battle for taking a toll, as well as the City not keeping up with its responsibilities on the property.
“The City by willfully neglecting its duties has created an environment in which, The Jacksonville Landing has struggled to compete in for commercial viability and market relevance,” the statement says.
McNaughton says the Landing has chosen to start addressing some of the disrepair itself, and they will offset what they spend by withholding some rent. WOKV has reached out to the City for its reaction to that plan, and we have not yet heard back.
The City and Landing are currently in legal battles, most notably including the City trying to terminate the lease. The City of Jacksonville claims the Landing has not lived up to its promise to be a world class facility, while the Landing says the City has not been supporting them in areas they're contractually bound to.
Both sides clashed again just a few weeks ago, over permitting for special events held around the annual Georgia/Florida game.
McNaughton says they are working on “repositioning” the use of the Food Court. He further says they want to continue pushing for redevelopment opportunities both for themselves, and as a big part of the core of Downtown.
“With nearly 40 years remaining on the lease for the property, we remain hopeful and continue to invite the city to enter into a productive and mutually beneficial discussion to work together on improving downtown and restoring The Jacksonville Landing as the catalyst for public activation, congregation and unification as it was intended decades ago,” he says.
Jacksonville's Mayor has previously come forward with a plan to redevelop the property in to a park. The City owns the land, but is in a long-term lease with JLI, who owns the building.