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bobliocatt

Contract on Jackonville skyscraper in dispute

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Contract on former JEA headquarters in dispute

24 January 2004

Two Jacksonville developers say they have a contract to buy JEA's former downtown headquarters.

JEA, however, says it has accepted only one contract -- the one with $100,000 more in the sale price.

Local partners Syed S. Hussain and Khalid Sindhu signed a contract Thursday to buy the 18-story building on Duval Street for $4.1 million, JEA spokesman Ron Whittington said.

That offer trumped the $4 million offer Trinity Realty Partners made when they apparently beat out another company in front of a JEA real estate committee last week.

But when Hussain and Sindhu saw published reports about the sale, they dialed up JEA with a better offer.

"The bottom line is to get the best price for the JEA and the ratepayers," Whittington said.

Whittington said JEA never signed a contract accepting Trinity's offer, but Trinity chief executive officer Park Beeler said the deal was in writing.

"I'm hopeful this will get straightened out," said Beeler, who declined to further comment.

Because JEA has accepted and signed the contract with Hussain and Sindhu, it's too late for anyone else to make a bid, Whittington said.

Hussain and Sindhu paid a $100,000 deposit and now have four months to conduct environmental inspections and another month to close on the sale.

Sindhu said they plan to put doctors' offices and law offices in most of the building, with an upscale restaurant on the top floor, some retail on the fourth floor and a bank on one of the lower floors. They plan to put $40 million into the project and hope to have it finished in a year, Sindhu said.

The office building, vacant since 1987, will be in a prime location come 2007. The building is one block from the planned Duval County Courthouse, scheduled to open in three years, and across the street from the new federal courthouse.

JEA moved into the building in 1976 when Independent Life moved to what is now the Modis building across from The Jacksonville Landing.

10391_400.jpg19897_400.jpg

This is what the building would look if Trinity Realty won the bid.

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