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City reaches deal with Landing owner

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City reaches deal with Landing owner

By GREGORY RICHARDS

The Times-Union

Jacksonville and the owner of The Jacksonville Landing have made a deal allowing plans to redevelop the downtown mall to proceed, according to a top city official.

"We've reached an agreement in principal," Susie Wiles, spokesman for Mayor John Peyton, said of the city and developer Toney Sleiman.

Jacksonville developer Toney Sleiman's plans for The Jacksonville Landing in 2003 included slicing a 60-foot-wide opening, which would allow those on Laura Street to see and walk to the river. That phase would also include redoing the Landing exterior with a Mediterranean-style stucco finish.

-- Artist renderings by Ron Garnett

Nov. 2003 report on planned Landing expansion (11/13/03)

Virtual tour of The Landing (day)

Virtual Tour of The Landing (night)

Through the deal, Sleiman would acquire the property the Landing currently rests on, which is now leased from the city. Sleiman would also acquire two other pieces of property:

The parking lot east of the Landing, between the mall and the Adam's Mark hotel.

The land west of the Landing, between the mall and the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts. This will require the closing of Hogan Street south of Water Street.

In exchange for the land, the city would be relieved of debt owed to Sleiman for not providing additional parking to the Landing, per prior agreement. No cash will be changing hands, Wiles said.

Sleiman and officials with his company did not return calls for comment Thursday.

In Nov. 2003, Sleiman introduced a plan adding offices, condominiums, a hotel, more shops and three parking garages to the Landing, all costing between $200 million and $250 million. Also proposed was a 60-foot-wide opening carved through the northern section of the building, where it meets Laura Street.

Plans stalled after Sleiman and the city couldn't reach a deal on incentives.

For more details on this story, read Friday's Times-Union and Jacksonville.com.

gregory.richardsjacksonville.com, (904) 359-4649

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Sweet. I'm glad that this is finally moving forward. With all the new residential properties going up or planned, this is vastly needed.

Now if only they could work out a deal to get the Skyway to stop right there.

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good news certainly. i think sleiman wasn't paying rent on his lease because the city defaulted on a deal to build a parking garage in 2002. this way, he'll get to do what he wants with the property ... and generate actual income for the city to boot (in property taxes he'll now have to pay).

a potential closing of hogan street south of bay is no big deal, since it's nothing more that a 50ft cul-du-sac anyway. plus sleiman's previous master plan indicates that he wants to preserve some sort of public access at that point anyway.

in regards to the comment that the skyway needs to stop closer to the landing ... i used my nerd skills and found out this info ...

central station is about 800 feet from the landing if you cut through the wachovia parking lot. it's maybe 1100 feet if you take the sidewalks. that's almost the same distance as walking from the adams mark hotel (actually slightly less). not very far at all. i think most people just have the perception that the skyway is too far away because it's not a straight shot. whereas i don't think anyone would say that the adams mark is too far away to walk, since it's just one straight line down the riverwalk.

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True, Central Station is right around the corner from the Landing. It just seems a little long because there's nothing but surface parking lots between it and the Landing. The walk will become a much more pleasent one, whenever Capital decides to sell the vacant lot, next to the Suntrust Tower (old Humana).

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This is great news! I'm glad to finally see some progress being made. I really really really wish we could get a Muvico Theatres in the new Landing! That would be a great downtown attraction.

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City, owner draft Landing blueprint

By GREGORY RICHARDS

The Times-Union

A deal has been struck between the owner of The Jacksonville Landing and city officials pushing forward redevelopment of the struggling downtown shopping and entertainment complex.

The agreement, which has yet to be finalized, calls for Landing owner Toney Sleiman to acquire from the city 11.2 acres underneath and around the Landing valued at $13.2 million.

However, no money will change hands because the city will get credit from Sleiman for nearly $10 million worth of parking spaces, maintenance and security that the city is legally obligated to provide. The rest of the amount would be for a wide opening to be carved into the Landing's northern section at Laura Street to open a public "view corridor" downtown.

"It's an important piece of our downtown for river access, as an entertainment venue and as a signature project on the river," said Susie Wiles, spokeswoman for Mayor John Peyton. "We have every confidence that Toney Sleiman will continue this tradition, only better."

Sleiman did not return calls for comment Thursday. His spokeswoman, Rachel Kaltenbach, directed all media calls to Wiles.

But in a statement, Sleiman, the Jacksonville-based developer of at least 120 retail and residential projects, said, "Our company has big plans for the area and we know that Jacksonville will be excited by what we're thinking."

What those plans are remains unclear. When Sleiman rolled out -- with much fanfare -- his plans for expanding and rejuvenating the Landing in November 2003, included were three towers of six to 25 stories full of shops, condominiums and offices; several parking garages adding 3,000 spaces; the Laura Street view corridor; and a hotel. The existing structure would be refinished, and the view corridor would be sliced through the building.

Wiles said she believes Sleiman and his company still plan to construct what he first pitched. "I don't have any knowledge that they're looking at any sort of different architectural plans."

Whatever concepts he brings forth will be subject to review by numerous government agencies, ranging from the Downtown Development Authority to the City Council. Wiles said she expects plans to be presented for initial review by May, with construction possible by the fall.

The land sale contracts will also contain deed restrictions limiting what can be built there.

The original deal to remake the downtown landmark was stymied by bickering between the city and Sleiman's team over financial incentives for the massive project, with a total cost estimated at between $200 million and $250 million. By March 2004, plans had been shelved.

As to what brought the deal back to life, Wiles said "there was an interest of both parties very recently to complete the transaction and we did."

Of the $13.2 million the city would invest in the project, $3.5 million is to ensure that the view corridor is built and remains open to the public; $6.2 million is for future maintenance and security costs; and $3.5 million is for part of a 900-space parking garage to be built between the Landing and the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts, forcing the closure of Hogan Street south of Water Street. The city is legally obligated to provide the parking, maintenance and security based on prior agreements.

Sleiman would provide a $13.2 million credit in exchange for the land stretching from the arts center to the Adam's Mark hotel, including the ground the Landing sits upon. He bought the Landing for $5.1 million in August 2003.

Wiles said no money would change hands because "the things that we are obligated or have chosen to do are roughly equivalent to those things that the Sleimans are getting."

With the sale of the property, the Landing will be placed on the tax rolls. Wiles said she was unsure of how much money that would generate for the city but it would be more than the Landing's roughly $100,000 annual lease payments.

However, the Landing has not made those payments since 2001 because the city has been violating the lease that requires it to provide more parking.

Wiles said she expects a draft agreement between both parties to be ready as early as today.

gregory.richardsjacksonville.com, (904) 359-4649

This story can be found on Jacksonville.com at http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stor..._18191327.shtml.

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Of the $13.2 million the city would invest in the project, $3.5 million is to ensure that the view corridor is built and remains open to the public; $6.2 million is for future maintenance and security costs; and $3.5 million is for part of a 900-space parking garage to be built between the Landing and the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts, forcing the closure of Hogan Street south of Water Street. The city is legally obligated to provide the parking, maintenance and security based on prior agreements.

I really hate it when the media phrases public/private deals in this light. They make it seem like the city is investing $13 million in the Landing. It is not.

In fact, the city is converting $13 million dollars of non-taxable space (which I don't even think was generating rent) into $13 million dollars worth of taxable property. If they build more towers, the taxable value will skyrocket.

This is the exact opposite of a city subsidy. It's a huge net gain for the city, and it's shoddy journalism to indicate otherwise.

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I think Slieman is going to turn out to be a lot of talk. He has all of these glorious plans for the landing, but the man is not the right type of developer needed to redo the Landing. You need a company with the scale and connections that Simon Properties has. Slieman's developments have been small strip mall type things. Does he even have the financial backing that it will take to accomplish what he wants? What banks are going to give him the type funding he needs to pull of such a large re-development? It's one thing to redevelop a strip mall, it's another to do what he promised to do with the Landing.

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I think Slieman is going to turn out to be a lot of talk.  He has all of these glorious plans for the landing, but the man is not the right type of developer needed to redo the Landing.  You need a company with the scale and connections that Simon Properties has.  Slieman's developments have been small strip mall type things.  Does he even have the financial backing that it will take to accomplish what he wants?  What banks are going to give him the type funding he needs to pull of such a large re-development?  It's one thing to redevelop a strip mall, it's another to do what he promised to do with the Landing.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I'd rather have someone with vision attempt to do something than no one at all. Sure he's mostly known for strip malls but the Landing is a just a 2 story semi-circular strip mall anyway.

Put it this way, if no one gives him the chance to do more than little strip malls, then how do we know he won't be good at it?

It's just like the whole work experience circle. They want you to have on the job experience yet no one will hire you to get that experience because they want what? On the job experience. That start has to come somewhere and he has the vision for it. Let the man work some magic.

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I agree, you have to give him a chance. I like the designs he put out. Plus, the banks will look at potential as well as assetts he owns. The guy now owns the land needed so I doubt that would be a big deal, especially with the city all but giving him the green light.

I hope he puts condos that are affordable for the normal person. If so, put me on the list.

Cheers

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Not that I am a proponent of sprawl, but Sleiman owns something like 40+ strip malls and his strip malls are fairly high quality. He also has a relationship with many good retailers like Barnes and Noble and this will work to his advantage with the Landing. I dont feel like he is undercapitalized and I think he will do a good job. He is also a Jacksonville native who cares about the city. My only concern is, you guessed it, the stucco facade. For some reason I loathe the stuff and the pastel colors they paint it. Still, his design is solid otherwise and I think he will do a good job.

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Personally, I am just glad that projects such as the Landing and the Shipyards are starting to get going again. I think that Sleiman seems like a reputable developer that will help to improve the Landing and brighten downtown. By the way, I agree that a movie theatre would be great!

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I'm all for redeveloping the Landing. It's certainly not the end all to Downtown, but until the Landing is successful, Downtown will have a black eye. I stated this over a year ago when his plans first came out and I'll say it again. Love the plan to open up Laura Street. Hate the plan to close Hogan (violates downtown overlay and against DVI riverfront study). Hate the plan to build high-rise on river (violates downtown master plan). We need to preserve if not increase public access to the St. Johns and we must maintain height restrictions on the riverfront. I've already heard one person at 11 E say rent better decrease if they take away the river view. We'll be hearing much more about this from downtown stakeholders in the very near future.

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^I agree about the high-rise. But I don't think the Hogan St. thing will be so bad. That garage is supposed to have ground floor retail, and there'll still be access to the T-U Center and the Riverwalk.

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I dont think the Sleiman proposals will much take away 11E's river views except in a few places. I think he should be allowed to build on the parking lot however, but not on Hogan St. Why open up the Laura St views and close off Hogan St? As for 11E's tenants, I cant see rent going down. I wouldnt lower it.

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In talking to the people a while back at 11E, I believe that is the plan. I believe there is some sort of sales restriction when you get historic renevation money. I think you have to own the building for 5 years.

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