JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville City Council voted Tuesday evening to move forward with plans for "The District," a large-scale mix of homes, businesses and parks that would be placed along the Southbank.
Elements of Jacksonville, the developer, can now purchase the land for $18.4 million from JEA and turn the 30 acres of land into a major development. It's proposed to become a destination with a hotel, housing, retail and office space, and a 125-slip marina.
"Within the next one to two years, you should see buildings being completed," said Michael Munz with Elements of Jacksonville.
The project would house the first hotel to be built on the St. Johns River since 2001.
"It's not just what it's going to do for the Southbank, but what it's going to do for downtown overall and the city overall," Munz told News4Jax on Wednesday. "It's going to start to really say that we are ready and open for private investment to start coming into the city. A mayor of Indianapolis said once, 'You can't beat a suburb of nowhere."
Downtown Investment Authority CEO Aundra Wallace said the approval means a community development district will be created, allowing the developer to borrow money from the private market and put in the infrastructure. The Downtown Investment Authority unanimously approved the development in April.
City Council President Anna Lopez-Broche voted against the project, saying it would be a poor use of taxpayer dollars, but Wallace said taxpayers won't be affected.
“The public is protected on this project. The public funds go into property that they own once the developer closes on the land and conveys to the city," Wallace said. "This is not going to impact the public at all.”
Mayor Lenny Curry has also voiced his support for the project, his office confirmed to News4Jax Tuesday.
Locals are excited about the project, but they do have some concerns.
"I think it will be good for the Southbank area," said Bruce Brady, who lives in the St. Nicholas neighborhood. "The only thing I'm concerned about is the traffic."
Elements of Jacksonville said it's already working with the Jacksonville Transportation Authority on traffic solutions.
The developer hopes to break ground on the project by the end of the year.