DDRB postpones conceptual design vote for RD River City Brewery Apartments | Jax Daily Record | Jacksonville Daily Record
The Downtown Development Review Board postponed its conceptual review for the $ 92 million apartment project proposed by Miami-based Related Group on the River City Brewing Co. property on the downtown waterfront, expressing concerns that the architecture would not fitted along the St. Johns River.
The DDRB’s 9-0 vote on Jan. 14 came hours after a Downtown Investment Authority committee approved a $ 500,000 increase in the project’s outstanding public incentive package valued at nearly $ 15.95 million would have.
In its project presentation, MSA Architects Inc. disputed the results of the DDRB employees that the eight-story apartment with 333 residential units “reminds of architecture in the resort style” from Key West, Seaside or St. Augustine.
The DDRB report states: “Employees are not sure how this fits contextually along the St. Johns River in Jacksonville.”
MSA partner Beatriz Hernandez said the apartment design is “temporary” and contemporary. She said the building’s metal roof, smooth-cut stone, and gray-and-white color palette complemented the surrounding Southbank architecture.
The west elevation of the RD River City Brewery Apartments.
Board members said they wanted the condo, apartment and office developers in Miami to be built in Jacksonville, but agreed to the questions raised by the staff.
“It seems to me that it is just not ready to stand in front of us,” said board member Christian Harden. “It doesn’t seem to make sense to me in Jacksonville. I checked it out and it looks like a mix between the Grand Floridian and Polynesian resorts in Disney World. ”
Board member Matt Brockelman said he saw the featured Midrise product as a better addition to the Intracoastal Waterway in Counties St. Johns and Flagler.
“The next time we talk about this project and the architects just make (a few) changes here and there, that won’t be enough to support the project,” he said.
Attorney Steve Diebenow from Driver, McAfee, Hawthorne & Diebenow represents the Related Group in Jacksonville.
He said the Related Group had urged DDRB staff to schedule the January 14 meeting as a conceptual review despite a recommendation for an informal workshop.
The northern elevation for RD River City Brewery Apartments.
According to Diebenow, the Related Group wants to stick to a tight schedule in order to conclude negotiations with the real estate tenant Maritime Concepts. The developer will buy Maritime’s interest in the property and buy up the remaining 77 years of its long-term lease with the city.
Board members also said the building’s eight-story elevations would look imposing from the park and Riverwalk, and used the language in the Downtown Zoning Overlay to bypass the required setbacks from the Riverwalk.
Board member Brenna Durden said the design goes against the spirit of the downtown zoning overlay.
The site is 3.43 acres and is bordered to the north by the St. Johns River, to the east by the Science and History Museum and Friendship Fountain, to the south by Museum Circle, and to the west by the St. Johns Marina boat ramp.
The related group plans to demolish the River City Brewing restaurant once the deal with Maritime is final.
The developer plans to close the lot on July 31st and complete the final design on September 30th.
Once approved, River City Brewing’s demolition is expected to be completed by September 30, 2022 and Related is expected to complete construction by April 30, 2025 at the latest.
The RD River City Brewery Apartments. Page index.
The DDRB’s proposals to rethink the location of the standalone restaurant overlooking St. Johns River Park and the position of the Southbank Riverwalk along the development were blocked by the terms in the DIA’s development agreement with the Related Group.
Board member Joesph Loretta asked DIA CEO Lori Boyer to give the DDRB more context in the future for provisions for project agreements that could affect construction site plans.
Loretta sometimes said that the DDRB felt “put in a drawer” to approve projects that are “political”.
“Sometimes it’s difficult because we get the project and we have to approve it because it was negotiated with you (Boyer) or with staff,” said Loretta.
More public money
On Jan. 14, the DIA Strategic Implementation Committee voted 4-0 to submit a revised term sheet for the Affiliate Group’s project that includes additional funding to offset costs related to unexpected soil conditions at the site.
Jeff Robbins, vice president of development for the related group, told the committee that the company’s ground drilling found a concrete fill 15 to 30 feet below the surface preventing a stable foundation for the apartment building.
The committee approved a $ 500,000 infrastructure completion grant to offset what Robbins said was an estimated $ 1.3 million to inject mortar into the underground debris for stabilization.
DIA employees said the city’s return on investment for the project will drop from $ 1.05 to $ 1.02 for every $ 1 invested.
In November, DIA offered the Related Group a Recapture Enhanced Value Grant of USD 11.9 million. a $ 500,000 grant to complete a restaurant; and $ 3.04 million for marina improvements, boat ramp parking, and riverwalk and sidewalk improvements.
The entire DIA board is due to vote on the amended agreement on January 20th.
The deal is then sent to the city council for final approval.