JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A controversial plan to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on land for a private development was nixed Tuesday in favor of the developer purchasing the Southbank property directly from JEA.
The Downtown Investment Authority had approved spending $18 million to buy land owned by JEA that is to be developed into The District.
But legal questions about the deal had the parties balking, and JEA officials decided unanimously Tuesday to instead sell the land directly to Elements of Jacksonville, a development company spearheaded by prominent businessman Peter Rummell.
“This is getting more complicated than it should be,” said Michael Munz, with The District. “Let’s go back and do what we all want: Make sure that we get great development downtown on the Riverwalk on the riverfront.”
Part of the deal agreed on Tuesday was that the parties would close on the land purchase by July 28 and that there would be no more extensions for the deal, which has been in the works for years.
The developer initially agreed to buy the land from JEA in October 2014, but then decided recently to get the city involved.
Now the parties are back to the original deal, and the DIA is out of the deal entirely, for now.
The developer has not yet decided if it will ask the city for help with building the roads and docks necessary for the development.
The proposed $433 million development will build homes, apartments and businesses along the riverfront focused on healthy lifestyles on the site that was once the JEA's Southside Generating Station.
City Councilman Matt Schellenberg, who was critical of the deal that involved the city in the purchase, said this is a much better option.
“I don’t know if they’re going to come back to the city of Jacksonville, and if they do we'll analyze it and see if it’s good for the citizens of Jacksonville,” Schellenberg said.
A special committee formed by the City Council to look at the deal involving the DIA will now be dissolved.