DIA to start public review of $151M redevelopment of former Times-Union campus

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DIA to start public review of $151M redevelopment of former Times-Union campus

By: Karen Brune Mathis

From: Jaxdailyrecord

Atlanta developer Jeff Fuqua proposes to start construction in 2022 on the proposed $151.61 million retail, residential and park redevelopment at 1 Riverside Ave. in Brooklyn.

The project, in two phases, would be completed in 2026.

A Downtown Investment Authority Project Profile Assessment explains more details for Fuqua Development LP’s plans to buy and redevelop the 18.8-acre former campus of The Florida Times-Union on the Northbank of the St. Johns River.

The land is owned by the Morris family of Augusta, Georgia.

The DIA Strategic Implementation Committee Meeting scheduled Resolution 2021-08-01 for the project at its meeting at 1 p.m. Aug. 16 at the Main Library Downtown and virtually on Zoom.

Steve Kelley, DIA director of Downtown real estate and development, said Aug. 9 the Morris property redevelopment is on the agenda, but staff has not completed documents for circulation, including the resolution, term sheet and staff report. 

“They are still a work in progress at this time,” he said by email.

The conceptual master plan for 1 Riverside Ave. development.

The project assessment provides some insights.

“The Project will redevelop a vacant, derelict office building and industrial site into a safe environment for visitors with workers, lighting and activity adding to the 24-7 aspect of a thriving downtown,” the assessment says.

The DIA expects Phase 1 to start next year for completion in 2024 and comprise 301 apartments, 47,400 square feet of retail space and a 38,750-square-foot organic grocer. 

Phase 2 is shown to begin in 2024 for completion in 2026 to develop another 15,000 square feet of retail space and 125 apartments.

Apartment rental rates are listed at $1,400 to $3,150. The apartments are designed as five- and six-story structures, including one above retail space.

DIA expects “the typical residential tenants in the Project are anticipated to be young professionals and active adults.”

There is a parking lot and deck.

DIA also anticipates the “uncovering” of McCoy’s Creek and the project’s connection with the Riverwalk, Emerald Trail and a public park as well as to the Brooklyn and Five Points neighborhoods, providing a walkable connection.

A conceptual master plan by Dwell Design Studio shows McCoys Creek to be shifted to the east and bordered by a new park. The waterway now runs through and beneath the property.

The site includes 12.68 acres of uplands. Fuqua said the rest is submerged land available for the water amenities.

Fuqua anticipates a future phase to include a floating food hall or restaurant venue on a permanently moored vessel with the submerged land as well as publicly accessible boat slips, according to the  assessment.

It also says the project would create about 168 jobs; attract about 625 residents to the apartments; create five new businesses comprising the grocery store, apartments, restaurants and retailers; feature alfresco dining areas that include sidewalk cafes along McCoys Creek; and feature at least one new special event venue Downtown in the new public park.

Plans for the former Florida Times-Union property in Brooklyn include apartments, retail and park space.

The property is within the Downtown Overlay Zone,  raising the option of incentives to assist in the redevelopment. 

DIA refers to the assessment material as an analysis for a Recapture Enhanced Value Grant and other incentives.

As of July 21, the DIA calculated a potential tax increment reimbursement of about $30 million over 20 years, and also referred to land swaps and completion grants, for the redevelopment of the property.

Current details are expected in proposed legislation that was not available Aug. 9.

An assessment addendum said the DIA is helping the city to secure land to facilitate the relocation of McCoys Creek and the development of a public park at the site.

“The DIA has worked with the private developer to design and deliver public infrastructure to support a new public park as well as over $150,000,000 of private investment,” it says.

It also says it has worked “extensively with the City Departments of Public Works and Parks” to determine costs, sites for public facilities and research on the property conditions and encumbrances.

The Florida Times-Union left the property in April 2019 and moved to Wells Fargo Center Downtown.

DIA included a document dated July 29 that shows the McCoys Creek and related construction work in the city’s updated Capital Improvement Plan at $28.67 million.

The DIA assessment says the Fuqua project meets several redevelopment goals.

The estimated $151.61 million cost comprises about $25.6 million to buy the land and building; $102.3 million in new construction; $22.5 million for architects, permits and other soft costs; and almost $1.2 million for furniture, fixtures and equipment.

The sources of the money are shown as $45.5 million in owner and investor equity and a $106.1 million construction loan.

The assessment also outlines average annual wages for 150 new jobs at the restaurants, grocer and apartments ranging from $21,753 to $99,000.

In May, Fuqua said he had a contract to buy the former Times-Union property to create a $250 million retail, office, restaurant and apartment project.

Fuqua said the project would be called One Riverside Avenue to reflect its address.

The Florida Times-Union opened at 1 Riverside Ave. in 1967. The Morris family bought the property in 1982 when it purchased the newspaper.

The family sold the newspaper in October 2017 but retained the property. The newspaper staff moved in April 2019 to Wells Fargo Center Downtown.

The Morris family has been deciding what to do with the Riverside Avenue site, which has a five-story, 55,500-square-foot office building and an adjacent 223,000-square-foot production facility that included the newsroom, advertising offices and printing press. There also is a parking lot and deck and some small structures. 

Staff Writer Mike Mendenhall contributed to this report.

A ground-level look at the development.

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