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Jacksonville: 17 story tower planned downtown


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29 March 2004

St. Joe, YMCA deal may hinge on temp quarters

RIVERSIDE -- The St. Joe Co. has had its eye on the Yates Family YMCA's land on Riverside Avenue since the developer moved its headquarters next door last year, and the company has big plans to eventually put a 16- or 17-story condominium tower on the parcel.

In a recent interview, St. Joe CEO Peter Rummell said talks of moving the YMCA to a temporary space nearby while a new facility is built had borne fruit after a series of plans to relocate the 50-year-old fitness center fell through.

"The possibility of the Y going into temporary facilities is kind of a breakthrough," said Rummell.

YMCA of Florida's First Coast sent out a request for proposals for redevelopment of its Riverside holdings a year ago, when a proposed makeover of the Brooklyn corridor began to make land in the area look more attractive. But Chief Operating Officer Paul McEntire said the organization is still waiting to see what happens with Brooklyn and has made no decisions about a possible move.

"Moving into temporary facilities is not being given serious consideration right now," said McEntire. "We are not working on anything in that respect -- it feels to us way too early."

St. Joe signed an agreement with the YMCA to eventually buy the land, but a contract has not yet been signed, said McEntire."We are in a complete holding pattern, but we are open to all options that St. Joe may ask us to consider," he said. "We know St. Joe has a lot of bright, creative people."

St. Joe originally considered building the condo tower on top of a new Y on the site, but would rather build a separate facility near Riverside Avenue while building the condo tower, which could contain retail space, closer to the river, Rummell said. Building atop would be more difficult and expensive, he said.

The condos will be aimed at affluent, aging baby boomers who want to shed the problems and worries of owning a house. The units will be priced from about $400,000 to $600,000, Rummell said.

"We think the riverfront doesn't need any more million-dollar units," he said.

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I've been waiting for Riverside Ave. to get something like this! I just hope that the building is street-oriented, unlike the St. Joe office building next door. In my opinion, 17 floors doesn't mean anything unless it is urban/pedestrian friendly. Either way, it will bring some new residential space to Riverside Ave.

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I agree, I really don't care about the height. Its definately more important for the building to face and interact with the surrounding area at street level.

Right now its still a toss up, when it comes to where Fidelity will build its new headquarters. However, the company has already said the development will include a hotel and condos. If they pick the Riverside site, next door, as expected, the corporate tower will be shorter (than the Shipyard's site) but the development would greatly enhance the Riverside Avenue corridor and go a long way in bridging the gap between Five Points and Downtown.

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I think that area will look great once Riverside Avenue is completed and landscaped. If Fidelity's & St. Joe's projects happen it will get pretty dense very quick. Its a good thing that the city is saving land, parallel to Riverside Avenue for the skyway expansion. I really expect to see that area take off, when Riverside Avenue is completed.

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