Developers pitch visions for The Ford on Bay site Downtown

Posted by Carlos Renteria on

Developers pitch visions for The Ford on Bay site Downtown

Two companies vying to develop the former Duval County Courthouse and City Hall site, now branded The Ford on Bay, delivered their public pitches Feb. 4.

New York-based Spandrel Development Partners LLC proposes a $136 million, 550-unit multifamily development in two phases that include a grocery store and retail space of 50,000 to 74,000 square feet.

Spandrel Principal Emanuel Neuman said the site will have  2 acres of landscape and public open space, as well as access to the Downtown Riverwalk from Bay Street.

The Related Group of Miami’s proposed development is smaller in scale. Vice President of Development Jeffrey Robbins said the company envisions an $80 million project with 350 multifamily residential units and 10,000 square feet of retail space.

Representatives from the two development companies each had 45 minutes to pitch their ideas to Downtown Investment Authority CEO Lori Boyer, DIA board member Ron Moody and city Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Stephanie Burch, the three scorers appointed by the DIA board.

It was the first public look at proposals for the vacant 8.38-acre city-owned green space at 220 and 330 E. Bay St. and an adjacent parcel submerged in the St. Johns River.

The conceptual diagram of The Ford on Bay site from Spandrel.


Spandrel shows splitting the eastern parcel into two buildings connected with an aerial walkway. 

At Charleston, South Carolina-based design firm LS3P Associates Ltd. Principal Richard Gowe told scorers Spandrel plans to create a new street connecting East Bay Street with Courthouse Drive and the Northbank Riverwalk. He is working with Spandrel on the project.

The new street would be “multimodal,” Gowe said, allowing for ride-sharing services, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority’s U2C automated vehicles and pedestrian areas. 

The plan widens the Riverwalk and makes Courthouse Drive a one-way street.

Renderings show structured parking on both parcels surrounded by the residential and retail to block it from street view. Gowe said Spandrel’s plan calls for some ground-floor residential uses with stairs and stoops to elevate the doorways.

The plan calls for restaurant or cafe space. Neuman said he would let the market dictate the size of the grocery store in the second phase.

Spandrel has contracted with Jacksonville-based engineering firm Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc. for its proposals.

The Related Group of Miami showed this conceptual site plan of The Ford on Bay site.

Related Group

The site plan for Related Group’s development outlines 10,000 square feet of amenity space and a pedestrian promenade replacing Courthouse Drive. It shows an open-air plaza with a swimming pool. 

Robbins said sculptures would be incorporated throughout the outdoor space and touted the art curation of Related Group CEO Jorge Pérez.

Related partners exclusively with Miami-based MSA Architects Inc. on developments. Robbins said Related would use its in-house marketing team and TRG Property Management to run the multifamily uses on the site. 

Boyer told Robbins she doubts the Related group’s 10,000 square feet of retail space would fulfill the requirements in the request for proposals. 

The DIA has asked for 80% of the development on the East Bay Street frontage to be retail, with 65% on the ground level.

A marina?

Related Group wants to buy all three parcels from the city for $500,000, which includes the submerged land that DIA officials want to reserve for a public-private marina.

Robbins said his company has not defined its plans for the water parcel, but he added “to ignore that would be irresponsible.” 

Spandrel’s proposal does not include an offer for the marina. Its public presentation did not offer a purchase price for the land. 

Neuman said after the presentation that Spandrel didn’t consider a marina economically feasible.

“When we sought out such expertise it was advised that at current state, there are many marinas that sit with vacancies. There’s not necessarily a demand driver for more marinas right now for the Downtown Jacksonville market,” Neuman said. “As such, we’ve decided to step away from that option.” 

What’s next?

DIA’s Retail Enhancement and Property Disposition Committee will make a recommendation to proceed or reject the two bids.

It will consider the scores at a 10 a.m. Feb. 11 meeting and make a recommendation to the full DIA board. Those scores are due to the committee by 9 a.m. Feb. 5.

The DIA board will consider the committee’s recommendation Feb. 19.


By: Mike Mendenhall

From: Jaxdailyrecord

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