New plan expected for old River City Brewing Company site

Head of Jacksonville’s Downtown Investment Authority says they’re expecting new proposal from developer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A plan for new apartments and a restaurant at the site of the old River City Brewing Company on Jacksonville’s Southbank has been delayed even though the old landmark restaurant was torn down.

The update on the project has left many saying Jacksonville is at it again — tearing things down without a plan for replacement. But that’s not really the case here.

Last July, the owner of the property — not the city — tore down the River City Brewing Company restaurant, which sat at the same site along the St. Johns River as Diamondhead and Harbormasters before it.

The plan was to replace the restaurant with new apartments and a restaurant. The city had worked out an incentive deal with the developer — tax breaks — but due to the economy and construction costs, the developer, Related Group, could not meet construction deadlines. That prompted the head of Jacksonville’s Downtown Investment Authority, Lori Boyer, to write a letter telling the developer that the deal is off for now. But Boyer said, hopefully, that won’t be for long.

“But the reality is that we’re expecting a new proposal for them,” Boyer told News4JAX on Thursday. “We’re expecting a new development proposal — probably even fits a little better with our original plan for the site than what had been approved.”

FROM THE VAULT: WJXT footage from opening of River City Brewing Company in 1993

Next to that site is Friendship Fountain. It has been undergoing repairs for a couple of years. Recent testing shows is ready to go again. Boyer said this delay will not affect plans for the park near the fountain, which should be running by this spring. News4JAX was told the delay of the apartments will also allow for the park to be completed more quickly.

Many have said the former River City Brewing Company site now looks like the old Jacksonville Landing site and are wondering why nothing is going up in its place.

“That was a private property owner deciding to demolish a building to facilitate their own redevelopment of the site,” Boyer said “It was not a city action.”

Boyer stressed that this is “very different” than what happened with the Landing.

A spokesman for the developer told News4JAX that they expect to present a new plan in the near future.

About the Author:

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