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bobliocatt

Interest high in JEA Southbank site

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By RYAN GEDDES

The Times-Union

JEA issued a bid invitation Thursday for the former Southside Generating Station site on downtown's Southbank, the second time in three years the utility has wooed developers with the riverfront parcel.

And although bidding has not yet begun, JEA documents show there is intense early interest in the property. More than 80 developers, brokerage houses, law firms and other real estate-related companies have requested bid invitation packages, including local developers The St. Joe and The Haskell Co., which had both been involved in bids on the property in 2003.

That year, JEA had asked developers to propose uses for the riverfront property, and St. Joe and a group including Haskell were the only respondents chosen. After a series of presentations and offers, no deal materialized, and JEA decided to base future solicitations for the site strictly on price rather than taking into consideration developers' detailed plans for the land's use.

The utility decided to re-market the land in February, but Mayor John Peyton asked JEA's board to postpone the process while he re-examined the site's capacity for public open space, including Riverwalk access.

According to the new bid invitation, the city would retain 9.7 acres of the former power plant site for public access and would include a Riverwalk and park parcel that would "run the length of the riverfront with an average depth from the river of 150 feet and a minimum depth of 25 feet."

The remaining 25 acres would be reserved for private development.

Haskell spokesman Bob Renaud said the architecture and engineering company would be interested in teaming up with a developer again to look at the site, but is not working with anyone yet.

"What we are going to do is we're going to keep an open mind and watch and monitor the process," said Renaud.

St. Joe representative Jerry Ray said his company has picked up a bid packet from JEA but that the company has no definite plans for the site.

According to the bid invitation package, JEA will accept bids for the property though May 17.

ryan.geddesjacksonville.com, (904) 359-4689

This story can be found on Jacksonville.com at http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stor..._18377983.shtml.

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I can't wait to see what the many companies come up with. It would be nice if

they make any renderings/ideas available to the public to get our opinions. At

least the city is holding tight to the public space and riverwalk extension.

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I too, am quite excited to see renderings. However, since JEA is only concerned with money, and not project design, I wouldn't expect to see site plans until well after the purchase.

Has anyone else had raised eyebrows over the implied asking price? Obviously JEA wants more than $40 million for the 25 acre site. I think it's safe to assume that they are probably hoping for even more. Maybe $50-60 million plus. That gets pretty steep. Upwards of $45-50 per sqft just for the land.

I envision two potential scenarios. One bad, one really good.

1) JEA's price is too high. None of the developers want to risk more than 40 million on a 25 acre brownfield with poor access. We get stuck with a worse design than St. Joe or Haskell, and JEA didn't even get more money for it.

2) Some developer slaps down 60 million+ to buy the property. In order to break even on such a large investment, they are forced to cram half a dozen tall highrises on the site. Jax gets its own mini-atlantic station ... (well, hopefully better than atlantic station ;) )

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My vote goes to scenario 2! B)

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I too, am quite excited to see renderings. However, since JEA is only concerned with money, and not project design, I wouldn't expect to see site plans until well after the purchase.

Has anyone else had raised eyebrows over the implied asking price? Obviously JEA wants more than $40 million for the 25 acre site. I think it's safe to assume that they are probably hoping for even more. Maybe $50-60 million plus. That gets pretty steep. Upwards of $45-50 per sqft just for the land.

I envision two potential scenarios. One bad, one really good.

1) JEA's price is too high. None of the developers want to risk more than 40 million on a 25 acre brownfield with poor access. We get stuck with a worse design than St. Joe or Haskell, and JEA didn't even get more money for it.

2) Some developer slaps down 60 million+ to buy the property. In order to break even on such a large investment, they are forced to cram half a dozen tall highrises on the site. Jax gets its own mini-atlantic station ... (well, hopefully better than atlantic station ;) )

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Am I missing something? Where are you getting $40mm from?

Also, if the interest is this strong in the site, the city may be tempted to extend an RFP on the Shipyards site. Frankly, they probably should have done that to begin with.

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