Developer, city break ground on long-awaited Southbank project

Work underway at site next to Duval County School Board building

The riverfront in Jacksonville is changing. Tuesday morning city officials and the developer -- Preston Hollow-- broke ground on a long-planned project recently renamed "Rivers Edge." The more than 30 acres of land on the Saint Johns River's southbank will be developed in the next 2 years.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Ground was broken Tuesday for a potentially $600 million development on Jacksonville’s Southbank that was 12 years in the making. In addition to dignitaries turning earth with ceremonial shovels, the project that was first known as “Health Town, more recently “The District,” it was officially renamed “Rivers Edge, Life on the St. Johns.”

Preston Hollow Capital, based out of Dallas, is developing 32-acres next to the Duval County School Board building where the JEA’s Southside Generating Station used to be located. The riverfront site will be turned into 950 apartments, townhouses and condominiums, 200 hotel rooms, 200,000 square feet of office space, 121,600 square feet of retail space, 125 marina slips, plus a waterfront park that will be open to the community.

“I am thrilled, this has been so long coming,” said Lori Boyer, CEO of the Downtown Investment Authority. “Very excited to be finally breaking ground, seeing the bulkhead work start.”

Former DIA CEO Aundra Wallace championed this idea from the beginning.

“This was one of the key sites along the riverfront that our city wanted developed,” Wallace said.

While Preston Hollow has completed some major projects in the past, its first major development in Florida could be the boost the River City has been waiting for.

“This project has great potential and it will be a strong catalyst for continued development in downtown Jacksonville, particularly on the Southbank,” Mayor Lenny Curry said.

The work underway now at the site is for a parking lot that will be used by the school board. In turn, the school board will swap part of their parking lot to allow for easier access to the site. The developer said the roads and a riverfront site will be completed later this year.

As the infrastructure is created, a new sea wall will be built as a part of this massive single-phase project.

“When we, Preston Hollow, say we are going to do something, I wanted to make sure the community knew we would follow through,” said Ramiro Albarran, managing director of the developer.

The future land use map for RiversEdge. (Jacksonville Daily Record)

The Jax Daily Record reported the orange space in the rendering above will be residential and retail, while the red space is mixed-use, including hotel and office space.

The building height map for RiversEdge. (Jacksonville Daily Record)

While the total project could cost more than $600 million, the city could spend up to $23 million on infrastructure improvements like drainage and roads. The city is responsible for the construction of a pedestrian promenade, a public marina, the acquisition of 5.35 acres for road right of way, and a 1.73-acre parking lot for the DCPS headquarters that will be owned by Duval County Public Schools.

Jacksonville City Council approved the agreement in July 2018, which includes an up to 20-year, $56 million recapture enhanced value grant.

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