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Haydon Burns RFP Thread


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Here's a new thread to dicuss and share Haydon Burns RFP related issues.

The three remaining proposals are:

Atkins Group - "Ocean Square"


proposal includes giving the city $5 million, demolishing current building to build a 12 story, 80 unit condo tower, a 600-seat movie theater/restaurant and a big box retail space for a tenant like Barnes & Noble or Tower Records

Main Branch, LLC


proposal gives the city $3.5 million for the land and renovates the building to house a specialty grocery market, office and retail space. Project also involves adding two floors to building for 20 condo units. Letters of intent have been signed by Crush Bistro and People's Grocery.

Peterbrooke Chocolatier

proposed floor plans


full 91 page RFP submittal


Proposal gives the city $1 million for the building. Peterbrooke plans to move their interactive manufacturing facilities and headquarters into the building by September 2006. Plans also include a Peterbrooke retail store, a sidewalk cafe, with outdoor seating and leasable office space.

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Here's some information from a discussion on T-U's site, from "Getreal",

a member who seems to have in depth knowledge on the current RFP process.

Regarding the cash offeres

The appraisal they used in the RFP said the land was worth $2.2 million and the improvements were worth $2.3 million.

Atkins offered $5 million subject to negotiations on the terms and consitions of the purchase with the City. They didn't include any drawings or plans with their proposal, so nobody knows what it might look like.

Main Branch offered $3.25 million, but the City has to carry the mortgage and allow them an interest only loan for the first 5 years.

Peterbrooke offered $1.5 million cash, and $2.5 million in improvements to the existing building.

Peterbrooke's Financial Ability to pull this off?

Peterbrooke's move into the library building has nothing to do with the new product, their franchising plans, however are dependent on the new product. The move to the new library will allow them to close down and sell the manufacturing plant they currently have in San Marco (not the little retail store on the square).

Anyway, I don't care which one goes as long as 1) they use their own money and no taxpayer subsidies, and 2) it happens fast.

Peterbrooke is the only one that had a financing commitment from the bank. The others based their financing ability on selling the residential units and getting retail tenants. If they already have the tenants then OK, but there's several hundred thousand square feet of empty retail space within a couple blocks of that site right now, and it has been empty for years.

Whichever group can produce the financing and a guaranteed time table for development is who should get it. There've been enough "dead end" projects that were originally supposed to be great deals, we don't need another one.

Views and questions concerning each proposal

Again, I am neither strongly in favor of or opposed to any of the three, but there are certain questions about all of them that need to be addressed.

Atkins - Offering a purchase price that is twice the value of the land (appraised at $2.2 million). They are tearing down the building, so offering to pay full price for it is not prudent. They clearly state that the terms and conditions of the sale need to be negotiated, which in plain english usually means some type of incentive or tax break in order to recoup the amount they overpay for the land. The timeline for the development could be years since no bank is going to finance an urban renewal project of that scope until they have sold a certain % of the units and have the retail tenants in hand. My concern is that no timeline is identified, and what does the City get out of it if they end up not being able to sell the required number of units. The proposal is vague, and the City's past history with proposals of that nature is not real positive.

Main Branch - The City is being asked to provide the financing, and be subordinate to the construction loan. The concerns are tha same as with Atkins, plus the fact that the City could actually end up "holding the bag".

Peterbrooke - Low offering price and projections are pretty lofty based on historical info and similar scenarios in other cities. They have the cash on hand and the timetable is quick, but I'd like to see some commitments from either Charter Tour Groups or the Schools on the proposed tours of the plant.

Anyone of the projects could be beneficial to Downtown and Jacksonville in general, but there are several questions that need to be answered with each proposal.

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This is good stuff. Someone is actually reading the proposals. For clarification, Main Branch will put $1,000,000 up front and ask the city to carry the balance until the permanent financing is in place (we estimate 2 years). Worst case: If we default the city gets the building back and the building will still be in the same location and could be worth a ton more. Plus a million.

I'm very pleased and optimistic about our downtown at a macro level with the interest in this project on a micro level. It was standing room only for the rfp scoring/reading. It was intense. All of you could have been there too. Just like the proposals are all there for your educated opinion, the process is there for your evaluation. This is key. All of you are invited.

I've never pushed my project on this board and I won't now. There is opportunity all over downtown so if a team other than Main Branch should win, I'll be the first to welcome them to the neighborhood. I hope you take the time to read the proposals and show up to the public meeting on July 8th. I'm sure it will be worth your time.

I'll give you an example of the excitement from the last public meeting. After the reading of the scores, they took a minute for the committee to make suggestions. Had not anyone spoke up about giving interviews Atkins would have won and it we would all be looking forward to seeing the details of their plans. Further, a motion was made for interviewing the top three, since they were both 6pts apart (12 between Atkins and Main Branch). There was about one minute there where MB was out, then back in it, supposedly on a level playing field (though I'm sure original scores will have some weight). Cable tv has nothing on this kind of stuff.

My real point here is that if you want an education its here and its free (minus copy charges). Following this from the papers and the message board is good but there is a part of the process that will really help you should you bid on future projects. The days of "big players with connections" being the only ones to get things done downtown at the cost of the taxpayer are over and the Haydon Burns closed the curtains.

I hope. ;)

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I certainly would like to attend these meetings. Unfortunately they normally conflict with my work hours at my job in Ponte Vedra Beach (8:30am - 5:30pm M-F). Where can I pick up a copy or review the proposals, on the weekends or after hours? Does the Library have any on file?

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For proposals Call 630-CITY and ask for the dept of procurement. Not sure how flexible they are. As for the July 8 meeting I'll try to get someone to film it. I was going to for this last meeting and couldn't get a crew out. If I do film it I'll make copies available.

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So basically I'm taping it. I hope you guys have dvd players. Maybe I'll interview people as they go in and then out of the meeting. Should be cool.


That sounds awesome, I live in jacksonville, but work nights, so making it out to civic thingies is difficult. Any viewable format works for me, other than in person :(

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  • 2 weeks later...

BTW, the final decision should be known by the end of the week and there still hasn't been anything mentioned in the FTU to giving further info on the Main Branch and Atkins proposals. Here's a letter to the Editor in Saturday's newspaper favoring Peterbrooke.


Go with Peterbrooke

To the committee members who decide which proposal should be awarded the old Main Library building: For once, Think out of the box. Go with Peterbrooke!

This proposal is innovative. It is good for tourism and positive economic impact. It is a mighty vote for historic preservation rather than destruction.

This city needs to distinguish itself architecturally. Please, no more nondescript steel, glass and concrete buildings that could be Anywhere USA.

By the time a wrecking ball could tear down the library building for the other projects, Peterbrooke could be installing equipment and setting up operations.

Its alliance with Florida Community College at Jacksonville for classes and tours involves our community at large (which is not a consideration of the others). Retail stores and condos can be constructed in any of many vacant buildings downtown.

Super Bowl is over and gone. Peterbrooke is here to stay.

Keep the library building. Allow the city to shine with a positive image, not a tear-it-down image. Honor our past, while looking forward to the future. Peterbrooke proposes to do just that!


artist, Jacksonville


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That was the most Bland, Watered down letter to to editor ive ever read. Tourism? Who the H E double-hockey sticks really considers a medeocre chocalate factory to be a tourist attraction? Crazy, how some people are fascinated by the smallest things like..Wow! Thats amazing how they put the chococlate bars in those huge boxes...and wait! Is that an Umpa Loompa!!- NO!! Get real!! Its just an over-tanned employee!

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I disagree with the writer of the Letter to the Editor. Atkin's will provide just as much for the city, downtown mainly, as Peterbrooke. Everyone is expecting Peterbrooke to be some amazing attraction that will draw in the multitudes, but I'm just not seeing it. There is nothing that Peterbrooke can do, short of a chocolate river and an army of orange men, that will really draw in the crowds. If the Landing hasn't drawn people downtown, this won't either. It has also been said before that sure some people will end up taking the tour, but how many times can somebody tour a chocolate factory?? Are they going to make annual passes? The novelty of the place will wear off pretty fast in my opinion. What Atkins offers is a sensible, entertaining complex. Something that will bring folks downtown at night. Sure it won't bring tons, but it's going to start something. If Barnes and Noble moves in, it will undoubtedly be followed by between 14 & 38 Starbucks coffee shops. That will bring in a few new stores and maybe some places to eat. Before long, BAMM!! downtown is a vibrant place to be during the day and at night.

If you can't tell, I want Ocean Square to win. I realize that my post is full of slanted judgement and wishful thinking, but I'm really getting excited about downtown. As they say: If you build it, they will come. But we need them to keep coming back.

I started writing this without seeing La Florida's post. The Willy Wonka comments are purely coincidence.

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I think its really more about saving the old building in its current state. Because, in reality there's nothing innovative about a chocolate factory from a little known company, that's going to make it pull in tourism bucks like a Six Flags or even a MOSH or Cummer. Peterbrooke doesn't really care about what's best for downtown and how they can fit into those plans. Its more about them getting a large building, over 10 times the size of their current facilities for only $1.5 million. It wouldn't matter whether the site was in downtown or Tallyrand. Hopefully the selection committee will see this.

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If you can't tell, I want Ocean Square to win.  I realize that my post is full of slanted judgement and wishful thinking, but I'm really getting excited about downtown.  As they say: If you build it, they will come.  But we need them to keep coming back.


Btw, I still don't have a favorite. Its pretty clear that the Main Branch and Atkins proposals have been designed in relation to the surrounding environment of the site. The Peterbrooke proposal does not do that and will ultimately waste a high profile site that would be best suited for a destination anchor type project that supports and attracts more downtown development. So as long as Peterbrooke loses, I'm fine.

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The problem with Peterbrooke, IMO, is that it's not a mix of uses and tenants. There is no residential component, nor multiple "destination" retail portions. It's just one thing: a factory. We already have a single-use factory downtown, on Bay Street lol.

At this point, I'm so bothered by Peterbrooke, that I don't care which of the other two wins. As long as it's not Peterbrooke....

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*shakes head*

This whole Willy Wanka remake could not have come at a worse time. It is not a tourist destination. Jacksonville is not and does not and should not want to be a tourist town. Do they expect people to choose chocolate over Mickey? I doubt many will even bother to get off I-95 on their way to a date in the Magic Kingdon so they can watch a group of minimum wage workers box up chocolate. Peterbrooke, I like your chocolate but guess what? I also like Hershey and M&M/Mars chocolate. You have nothing to offer by way of uniqueness of substantial magnitude to entice travellers into labelling the Peterbrooke facility tour as a 'destination'.

Now that that is all said. Historical value? If we are considering an inane attempt at economic touristry with no neighborhood economic value or impact over proposals that offer an increase in population, tax base, economic vitality and urban resurgence all for the sake of saving a building built a long time ago that in my honest opinion is not the most eye pleasing edifice in town, we have some serious issues on our council.

To save an old building is noble, but if it is worth saving that much then the tenant should also be as meaningful to the community and the peterbrooke facility does not do justice to a historical building especially at the expense of better projects.

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This is something I wrote earlier this month, but it applies well to the current thread.

To me Peterbrooke's vision to redevelop the Hayden Burns Public Library building is short sighted. They plan to convert the old library to a chocolate factory/museum. Excuse me but WTF, a chocolate museum, seriously? I agree the city of Jacksonville could use the extra jobs. In addition, a few hundred extra bodies a day floating in and out of the stores and restaurants would bring a much needed cash injection. I just don't see how the city planners, in all their wisdom, can think a chocolate factory is a good idea.

Jacksonville.com decided to cover the Peterbrook angle as an add-on to their coverage of the Hayden Burns pseudo decision today. After reading the article I can honestly say the Peterbrooke vision has some major flaws. Peterbrooke claims the venture would create a destination downtown and pump 78 million dollars a year into the economy. Maybe for the first year, but how long until the novelty wears off? Who is going to travel to Jacksonville to visit the chocolate museum of a regional chocolate manufacturer when they can see the real thing by going to Hershey Pennsylvania?

Why not bring something to the core of the city the residents can actually use, like a grocery store? With Winn Dixie's bailing left and right it won't be long until the sole grocery store downtown is a distant memory. Many of the residents of Downtown and Springfield fill up their grocery carts every week at the Riverside Publix. Don't get me wrong, there are a few grocery stores/markets in Springfield and Downtown, but most are only good for picking up a few necessities, and a panhandler or two. My message is there are plenty of good places in Jacksonville to put a chocolate factory. Putting one downtown would serve no function to the residents of Downtown and we would miss a genuine opportunity to add function back to the core of the city.

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Here's a letter today's paper in favor of Peterbrooke, that was written in response to my letter that favored the other tow proposals.

PETERBROOKE: Proposal is a unique opportunity

A recent letter suggests the proximity of the old Main Library building to downtown attractions and residences dictates the site be used only for a mixed-use project. This argument might have some legs if the library site were the only place where one could locate such a development.

However, anybody taking a quick look at the downtown Jacksonville landscape will observe that it is littered with underutilized private parking lots and derelict open spaces.

There is an abundance of alternative locations for mixed-use developments, but only one location that fits Peterbrooke's vision for a unique downtown attraction.

The triumph of modernist architecture that is the old Main Library need not be sacrificed to fulfill a potential need for movie theaters, restaurants, gourmet grocery stores and 800-square-foot condominiums priced at $250,000.

The two mixed-use proposals from the Atkins Group (which wants to raze the library building) and Main Branch LLC (which wants to mutilate it) should be rejected for numerous other reasons, three of which are highlighted here:

The Atkins and Main Branch proposals include vague details about financing, which invite speculation regarding the city again being taken to the cleaners by reckless developers.

For example, why would Atkins offer $5 million for land ostensibly worth only $2.2 million to the company (after demolition expense), if not for the potential to wrench financial incentives from the city?

Success of the Atkins and Main Branch proposals is contingent upon the future vitality of an already-saturated downtown condominium market.

No credible lender would support either proposal without financial commitments for at least 50 percent of the property available for sale or rent.

The Peterbrooke proposal can be implemented immediately. Its success does not depend on selling or renting space.

Neither Atkins nor Main Branch has any experience developing mixed-use projects.

Jacksonville has a unique opportunity to preserve a remarkable example of modernist architecture and simultaneously open the door for a unique downtown tourist attraction.

To reject the Peterbrooke proposal for either one of the mixed-use bids would be misguided.

RICHARD SHIELDHOUSE, consultant, Jacksonville


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Am I the only one who doesnt get the preservation argument with the Haydon Burns library?? I think this building, as someone stated before, is basically a piece of 1960s modern art which has not worn well over time. I think it is just plain ugly. But, aside from its appearance, it is a lowrise building in the center of downtown so adds no density to the city. The Atkins proposal would add a new highrise, entertainment options and 80 residential units. This is not even close in my opinion. Pick Atkins!!

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I don't totally agree with the movement to save it either, however, I do understand that whether you like it or not, it is a weird looking building that stands out. Nevertheless, whether we save, demolish or "multiate" the building shouldn't even be a factor in this decision. If that was the case, it should have been mentioned as a major factor early on in the RFP process. The main issue at hand should be selecting a project that best stimulates and support downtown development. An industrial single use tenant, just doesn't do this.

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For all of the reasons why Peterbrooke should be chosen over the other two, he still failed to address the point of my entire letter........The proposal chosen should benefit downtown's needs the most, which Peterbrooke fails to do, thus no mention of it.


^ I think the letter writer does address that. He is claiming that Atkins and Main Branch are financially unviable proposals that will either go unbuilt/vacant/need incentives/etc. all resulting in embarassment or frustration for the city.

There is certainly valid reason to suspect financial hurdles (expensive $per/sqft, some lack of preleases, no secured or even tentative financing) whereas Peterbrookes financing is secured. But he doesn't have proof of unviability for the other two. However, everyone here should take a deep breath and remember this ... we can't prove (or even offer concrete, non speculative evidence) that Atkins or Main Street won't suffer from the problems he lists.

Ostensibly, that's why there has been a 1 month delay. It will be the committee's job to flesh out these concerns and find the facts through more detailed presentations. If that letter writer's concerns are wrong, the presentations will make it clear - and Atkins supporters should have nothing to worry about.

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