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vicupstate

Atkins Group breaks off negotiations on Haydon Burns

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Can anyone say hello to Peterbrooke?

The article mentioned that Atkins would continue to develop a mixed-use project somewhere else in downtown. I suspect that they found another site for less then $5 million.

Jacksonvillian! Are you still out there?

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Well, the Peterbrooke folks predicted that Atkins couldn't get it done. Maybe they were right.

Hello, downtown chocolate factory/museum (in ugly building).

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^yep, unfortunately they were. I wonder if the city will issue a new RFP, like they did with the courthouse, or will they give the building to the second place proposal......Peterbrooke?

Well if its going to be a chocolate factory, then lets hope those plans improve from what they originally had, during the RFP. As for Atkins, the questions don't stop. Did they find a cheaper site? Was financing a problem? Is the Haydon Burns site contaminated? Is Kuhn planning something, similar & better?

Jacksonvillian, we need you!

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I feel somewhat vindicated in all my rants in the old library thread. ;) This is basically one of the fears I had ... that the numbers didn't make sense, and that Atkins would back out. As mentioned in the old thread, there were all these rumors that the city negotiators (the lawyers, not the JEDC) and Atkins were having trouble. Those rumors were justifiably presumed to be smokescreen from the preservationists, but it looks like they were accurate after all.

But anyway, lets look at the positive side of this:

- At least Atkins backed out now, rather than after demolishing the library. Let's face it, ugly or not, having a vacant 3 story ugly building is way way better than having yet another dirt lot.

- At least Atkins got their chance. If the site goes to #2 Peterbrooke, no one can claim favoratism or backdoor deals. It was all out in the open in the JEDC. (Although after Peterbrooke's childish comments, who knows what the city will do).

- Since they can probably buy a similar site for $1-$2 million instead of $5 million, perhaps Atkins will come out with a similar or better proposal for a new site in the near future.

- The move to landmark the building failed, so theoretically maybe Peterbrooke (or whoever) could still alter some of the more insanely ugly aspects of the building (like it's lack of street interaction) without having to worry about historical guidlines?

- And who knows? It's never over 'til it's over. They might work out a deal even after annoucing a failure. Stranger things have happened.

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^I agree. At least they had their chance. If its awarded to Peterbrooke, then my focus becomes making it the best chocolate factory out there, that adds some life to the street, as well as improves the building's flaws.

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Why is it that the tacky building proposals always seem to be built while the good looking ones dont work out. :(

Now, I will have to see that awful Haydon Burns Library for the rest of my life. :sick:

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ok ... i have some more news/rumors for everybody.

- apparently the Atkins/City negotiations had already failed once in the past few months, but the city quietly granted them an extension.

- Mayor Peyton was at a Jax Historical Society event TONIGHT and didn't say a word about this to anyone. So he probably didn't know - hell, he probably STILL doesn't know (otherwise he could have told all the preservationists tonight and tried to take credit for it).

- And the most interesting rumor of all ... Tuesday Nov 29th was apparently a very important day for Atkins. I hear it is the day they were supposed to give the city an earnest payment (no idea how much). So they backed out the day before payment was due ... a payment they couldn't make, perhaps?

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Well Captain, I can confirm that most of that is RUMOR...

There was a meeting scheduled for tomorrow, however earnest money was not involved... in fact the earnest money in the six figures was already in escrow and was not due until the deal was approved by City Council, and as for the rest of the money, Atkins had already banked 7 million (5 million for the purchase and 2 million for development soft costs). The City wanted Atkins to put its equity up at risk along with the deposit... totally insane.

The truth is that the City could not ever make the deal final... they kept altering the deal each time they met with Atkins and Atkins final had enough... and yes they are already looking at several other site downtown.

Atkins terminated this deal because the Administration wouldn't support it... too many past political promises and outside interest involved in the Haydon Burns... and yes it is contaminated with petroleum, and yes the city didn't want to clean it up.

Don't be surprised when a new version of "Ocean Square" is developed by Atkins somewhere else downtown!!

- J

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Thanks for the report, Jacksonvillian.

I'm really starting to get annoyed at the citys' inability to keep a deal. They ketp altering the deal to the Jags so much that it took threats of losing them and a full sit down with Weaver to work on it and even that seems just temporary.

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But anyway, lets look at the positive side of this:

- At least Atkins backed out now, rather than after demolishing the library. Let's face it, ugly or not, having a vacant 3 story ugly building is way way better than having yet another dirt lot.

- At least Atkins got their chance. If the site goes to #2 Peterbrooke, no one can claim favoratism or backdoor deals. It was all out in the open in the JEDC. (Although after Peterbrooke's childish comments, who knows what the city will do).

- Since they can probably buy a similar site for $1-$2 million instead of $5 million, perhaps Atkins will come out with a similar or better proposal for a new site in the near future.

- The move to landmark the building failed, so theoretically maybe Peterbrooke (or whoever) could still alter some of the more insanely ugly aspects of the building (like it's lack of street interaction) without having to worry about historical guidlines?

- And who knows? It's never over 'til it's over. They might work out a deal even after annoucing a failure. Stranger things have happened.

To think that 75% of a comparable city block in the urban core can be had for $1-2 million is not realistic, IMO. Certainly not after the arrival of Cameron Kuhn.

It also remains to be seen if Atkins got their chance. If they were required to forfeit $5mm even if the due diligence (ie contamination issue resolution) turned out unfavorable, that is not a deal ANYONE would sign. Jacksonvillian, was that the specific amount?

Lastly, I think Taylor Hardwick and the Perservationists have made it clear that they are not going to accept ANY significant alteration. They will insist Peterbrooke gets it, or another party that will not alter it.

I hope you are right, that there is still a chance it can work out. One thing is for sure, there is a lot of explaining due on someone's part. This is public property and the exact sticking points need to be made public. From the article in the T-U and Jacksonvillian's comments, this thing reeks of politics.

Since Peyton didn't try to "announce" this to the the Historical Society, he may have other plans for it. I seriously doubt he was in the dark about the situation.

This reminds me of the Barnett situation. Langton had tried to get a deal with the city for years, then the city says a final "NO" and a new party (Kuhn) arrives on the scene. At least that is what I HOPE happens, rather than being stuck with that ugly building for eternity.

Either way, I want to know if the city and Atkins negotiated in good faith, and what happened to the deal. I also don't think the city should accept one dime less than the appraised value. Actually, there should be a new appraisal given all the annoucements since the last one (Kuhn's two purchases, the 4 building project on the river, the Noland building,etc.). An appraisal is only good for six months anyway.

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Vic you raise some good points. Hopefully someone from the city checks this site out. If the deal is dead, then a new appraisal should be given, considering the recent announcement of several huge "market-rate" projects (St. Johns, River Watch, The Barnett, St. Johns Pointe, the Metropolitan).

Anything accepted under the appraised value should be considered a disservice to the average taxpayer of Duval County.

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HEY... ASONJ!!!

so... wanna go play with matches? i heard old books catch on fire real easy :ph34r:

anyway... guess we can pack up our lawn chairs.... The suns baked me to a crisp anyway so i guess I should head back. IYou can have the rest of the beer...

On to the next thing...

Josh

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Jacksonvillian ...

The expanded newspaper article in today's times union seems to confirm the rumor that an earnest payment was involved. It explicitly states that Atkins refused to pay the city a revokable deposit if they didn't make certain conditions. Who expects to win a governmnet RFP and not have conditions??? The article makes Atkins sound either unrealistic or sleazy. Without conditions they could purchase the property and then abandon/alter/delay the project and the city would have no recourse!

Perhaps Jacksonvillian can tell us what those conditions were. Perhaps if the city's conditions were unreasonable, it will cast Atkins in a better light.

Vic ...

We'll just have to agree to disagree. You make a lot of good points, but they are premised on information that I believe to be incorrect. 1) one acre of vacant downtown land has indeed been selling for around 2 million lately, 2) i don't think the deposit would have been for the full 5 million, 3) taylor hardwick and the preservationists clearly have zero political clout. if the next person happened to want to demolish the building, they legally could, 4) the city should ABSOLUTELY accept less than the appriased value for surplus properties under reasonable situations. your suggestion is far too rigid and leads to "lavilla" situations where the city loses more money in property taxes in the long run while holding out for a "great" deal.

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Also, I have another comment. In the expanded TU article, Steve Atkins says that the political atmosphere "was not supporting us." That doesn't make any sense to me. What bad political atmosphere?

The JEDC, the mayor, 12 out of 13 councilmen, AND the historic preservation committee seemed rather supportive of his proposal. Hell, the only people who opposed him were Suzanne Jenkins and the Historical Society (a non-govt group).

However, the expanded article also make Suzanne Jenkins look like a fool ... "Praise the Lord!" ... lol :)

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Also, I have another comment. In the expanded TU article, Steve Atkins says that the political atmosphere "was not supporting us." That doesn't make any sense to me. What bad political atmosphere?

The JEDC, the mayor, 12 out of 13 councilmen, AND the historic preservation committee seemed rather supportive of his proposal. Hell, the only people who opposed him were Suzanne Jenkins and the Historical Society (a non-govt group).

However, the expanded article also make Suzanne Jenkins look like a fool ... "Praise the Lord!" ... lol :)

That may have been the just thing to say, considering Atkins won and was following their original rules. However, if its true that they changed the terms, in the negotiation process, then that seems shady, on the city's part and reeks of small time politics. We recently had this issue with Peyton and the Jags. The question everyone should be asking is why is it so difficult for people to complete deals with the city on a timely matter? Atkins may have done himself and everyone else a favor by jumping ship.

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Agreed, Lake. The City doesnt do what it says it is gonna do and Atkins is at fault? Atkins was offering $5 million. The only condition the City should have had, given his plans, is that he bring a certified check to the closing on the property. Obviously there are situations where the highest bidder is not the best in the long run for the City, but here the highest bidder was also the highest and best use for the land and would have generated the most in taxes for the City.

Captain: I share your feelings about preservation, but just because a building is over 20 years old doesnt mean it is worthy of preservation. The Haydon Burns is a monstrously ugly building built by an architect of marginal ability. This aint a Frank Lloyd Wright we are talking about (to give a more respected modernist example). I would argue that a vacant lot would be better there than a preserved Haydon Burns because at least something nice could be built down the road on a vacant lot. Bring on the dynamite!!

P.S. What is wrong with saying "Praise the Lord"? She is wrong on the Burns topic, but not on that one.

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"Atkins said that the company might be willing to reconsider withdrawing its proposal if city officials are willing to give Atkins the original offer made after the company's presentation in July."

Hmmm, it ain't over till it's over?

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Lets not try to take the Lord out of RFPs, we're already losing Christmas. Here are some personal comments on comments made here and the other boards.

1. Atkins is not sleazy. I'm sure each side is being as careful as possible with what they say at this point.

2. Atkins will develop downtown. He apparently has investors ready and there is land for sale (somewhere).

3. I'm pretty sure the Mayor would have liked the deal to happen. Its illogical to think otherwise. I'm not sure what the sticking point was but just because the deal didn't happen, doesn't mean that one side didn't want it to. I've been in more deals that didn't happen than those that did, and each time both sides wanted it done. You can have your whipping boy but you won't get any closer to finding out why it failed by just disparaging whatever side you didn't take.

4. This administration pulled the plug on the Shipyards and did not create it. I mean, come on.

5. Peterbrooke is not going to be the only failed bidder to go after the building/property post-Atkins, if Peterbrooke even goes for it.

6. Councilmember Jenkins was not the only politician advocating P-brooke. Jerry Holland did so also on First Coast News. It may still be in their archive.

7. Is a better number to end on than 6 ;)

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