Downtown Investment Authority awards courthouse site redevelopment project to Atlanta-based Carter

The members of the Downtown Investment Authority voted unanimously Wednesday afternoon to award the project of redeveloping the old Duval County Courthouse site to a company called Carter based in Atlanta.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The members of the Downtown Investment Authority voted unanimously Wednesday afternoon to award the project of redeveloping the old Duval County Courthouse site to a company called Carter based in Atlanta.

Carter had been the clear frontrunner heading into the vote after the city received six bids for the project.

PLANS: See the bid Carter submitted and what it plans for the site

Carter’s CEO now has 75 days to negotiate a term sheet and bring it back to the board for approval.

“I’m very optimistic,” said Lori Boyer, CEO of DIA. “I don’t think the board would have selected this project if they didn’t believe it was financially feasible and that it would really happen. I think that was a real part of the consideration of this process.”

Carter wants to turn the now empty lot, which the city had been calling The Ford on Bay, into a high-rise apartment building with restaurants and shopping.

The project will now be called The Hardwick, in honor of a former Jacksonville architect, Taylor Hardwick, who designed the old Haydon Burns Library and Friendship Fountain.

Below is a look at what that $140 million plan from Carter could look like when it’s finished:

Rendering of old Duval County Courthouse site redevelopment project (Provided to WJXT)

IMAGES: Renderings of old Duval County Courthouse site redevelopment project

Carter wants to build a high rise with more than 330 apartments and a 550-space parking garage.

There’s a plan for two restaurants and 125 open spots for retail.

Carter is also proposing building a tower with severe weather resilience, adding eco-buffers like a tree canopy and green roofs to protect the building.

Boyer said Carter’s plans might carry more risk than some of the other proposals the DIA considered.

“But it’s because we’re getting a more iconic project that for generations will be a feature on the waterfront,” Boyer said.

Here’s a breakdown of what needs to happen in the process after Wednesday’s vote:

  • Negotiations with Carter can begin as early as Thursday.
  • Once a deal is in place and approved, it will go to the City Council for a final vote.
  • The Downtown Development Review Board will have a say in any changes included in the final design.
  • Carter will also have to apply for permits before breaking ground.

The timing of this decision is fitting.

Thursday will mark exactly three years since the old City Hall came crashing down after standing on the north bank for 60 years.

Plans to move the Museum of Science and History across the river also received another thumbs up from the DIA on Wednesday. The future of that project will come down to fundraising.

And just on the other side of the Marina from the old courthouse site is the failed Berkman II property. After a series of delays, the city expects it will come down next month.


About the Authors:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.