Mayor Alvin Brown was signing legislation Tuesday to help revitalize the city's urban center by supporting plans for a mixed use retail and residential development that includes a new park on Riverside Avenue in Brooklyn.
The legislation marks an agreement between the city and Hallmark Partners Inc. for up to $4.9 million in Recapture Enhanced Value Grant reimbursements over a 20-year period.
Hallmark plans to invest $38 million into currently vacant property at Riverside Avenue and Jackson Street by building 294 residential units ranging between 600 and 1,200 square feet along with 16,500 square feet of retail space.
An adjacent park about the size of a football field will be the adequate size to program festival-style entertainment or provide enough green space to accommodate roughly 1,000 people. According to the mayor's office, the park will be open to the public and administered by a nonprofit, allowing Jacksonville to take its place among cities such as Houston, San Diego and Portland, Ore., whose urban parks helped to drive urban core revitalization.
"This is a transformative moment. I'm excited about the Hallmark project's potential to stimulate even more private investment downtown as we see young professionals and families look for new opportunity in the city center," Brown said. "We must continue to work closely with the private sector to make downtown a more competitive center of commerce and entertainment to increase our standard of living, grow revenue streams and make Jacksonville a destination."
The REV Grants provide a rebate of up to 75 percent on the city's portion of ad valorem taxes on new construction, with Hallmark continuing to pay the other 25 percent atop current obligations on the land.
The planned enhancements to the property are estimated to generate $6.9 million in additional property tax revenues for the city and Duval County Public Schools throughout the next 20 years. The project has the potential to increase residency in Jacksonville's downtown area by 15 percent, according to the mayor's office.
"The 220 Riverside project is a prime example of how the private and public sectors can work together to breathe life into a community, like Brooklyn, that is in need of redevelopment," said Alex Coley, president of Hallmark Partners. "For 20 years, Hallmark has worked almost exclusively in Jacksonville. We are a local company with deep roots in our city. To us, this project is an opportunity to lead on an initiative that will drive real, lasting and beneficial change that we hope extends far beyond the boundaries of Brooklyn. The mayor and City Council have been great partners in this effort."
The legislation went to the mayor for signature after it passed City Council by a 16-1 vote June 26.