Piers at future site of Shipyards West Park need to be replaced, could cost up to $30M in current design

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Downtown Investment Authority (DIA) met on Thursday to talk about how much more money could be needed for projects on both the Northbank and the Southbank, including the area known as the Shipyards and the former home of the Jacksonville Landing, now called Riverfront Plaza.

The DIA looked at some preliminary designs for the park at what’s called Shipyards West along East Bay Street. That included discussing the potential multi-million dollar cost of replacing the piers there.

The preliminary design for Shipyards West across from the Duval County Jail and Maxwell House has plans for a food hall along Bay Street, a boardwalk and green space, among other features.

Preliminary design renderings for Shipyards West Park along East Bay Street in downtown Jacksonville. (Copyright 2023 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

Right now, the design calls for three piers: One where the USS Orleck museum would dock, one for fishing and one that would be for kayak and paddleboard rentals. But designers say the piers there now need to be torn down and rebuilt, which could come with a hefty price tag between $10 million and $30 million.

“We love the design concept of being able to use those and creating a cove that is protected. However, that’s going to be a budget challenge. So that probably becomes a subsequent phase. And maybe there are some design techniques that can reduce the cost that we need to look at,” DIA CEO Lori Boyer said.

The board seemed hesitant to spend that much DIA money but said it could eventually become a city-funded project. They all agreed to move forward with the design but also look at alternatives, like potentially fewer piers.

One of the Northbank proposals the board did like was the idea of adding a potentially $2 million speaker and video system to Riverfront Plaza. The system would be able to project movies or video displays on the side of the adjacent performing arts center.

Current design of Riverfront Plaza, the former home of the Jacksonville Landing. (Copyright 2023 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

Boyer said the Riverfront Plaza park design is nearly done and the first phase of construction could start in June on the west side.

“That would include the playground, that would include a big festival lawn area, and part of the conversation today was that there was also a future development restaurant pad there and how we wanted to proceed with architectural, at least concept drawings, of what that would look like,” Boyer said.

Over on the Southbank, there were discussions about converting Flagler Avenue near Treaty Oak Park into a bicycle-friendly road that connects to the river, a new dog park under I-95 in San Marco along Broadcast Place and widening the Southbank riverwalk.

The meeting on Thursday was just a workshop to hear ideas and nothing was finalized. In the coming months, the board will meet again and decide which projects it wants to pursue.

You can read the entire presentation below:

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