JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The city of Jacksonville has officially taken over the leasing rights for The Jacksonville Landing and sent letters May 1 to the tenants inside the riverfront mall, giving them 30 days to pack up and get out.
Tony Sleiman's company, which had leased the property for 15 years, was paid $15 million in a settlement that broke Sleiman Enterprise's lease with the city and put an end to an ongoing legal fight.
The City Council approved the deal, which also included $1.5 million to demolish the riverfront mall and another $1.5 million to buy out long-term leases from stores and restaurants.
News4Jax obtained a copy of a letter the city sent to the mall's tenants on Wednesday that officially terminated their subleases and gave them 30 days' notice to:
- Vacate the space and leave it in an undamaged condition
- Remove any of their property from the premises
- Hand over any keys or codes necessary for access
News4Jax also obtained a copy of the letter Sleiman sent to tenants, notifying them of the change in ownership and providing directions for future notices and rental payments.
The businesses occupying the building's outer spaces, including Fionn MacCool's, Hooters and New Jax Gym, said they have not yet received sublease termination letters, but they expect to soon.
The city said notices were sent April 26 warning the tenants that the termination letters would be coming in early May.
The city's chief of real estate is giving the tenants a listing of available spaces downtown and will offer other assistance with relocation, a city spokeswoman said.
Shannon Dixon, one of the owners of the New Jax Gym, which has been at the Landing for 12 years, said it's heartbreaking to know he only has 30 days left to continue his dream business.
"It's definitely home. I’ve made my business down here. I’ve met some amazing people from being right here by the Times Union, from the concerts, from the people who came and traveled in. It’s home. it hurts," Dixon said. "For the last five and a half years, that’s how I feel walking in here like a dream come true, and it's gone. So, we got 30 days. I’m going to remember all the good stuff."
Dixon and other owners of businesses located at the Landing said they have no idea where they will go next.
"I thought we'd have a little bit more time," Dixon said. "We’re looking, but right now its all in the air."
But some business owners got a head start on moving plans.
"We’re meeting with different brokers of commercial properties throughout the week, next week, the following week," said Michael Cobb, owner of Accentuate Boutique. "We’re seeing what's going to be best suited for our next move when it comes to our boutique."
The Landing, which opened 32 years ago along the St. Johns River in Downtown Jacksonville, has become an oft-featured landmark of the city's landscape, but the building could be gone as early as next year.
What will replace the mall has been a matter of much debate.
Ex-Landing owner: Thank you for the memories
In a post on the Jacksonville Landing Facebook page, which remains under Sleiman's control, the company encouraged those who have supported the Landing to continue to patronize the mall's few remaining shops and restaurants as long as they stay open.
Another post included a photo of one of the Landing's many event crowds with the words "Thank you for the memories" on it.