Future of Jacksonville Landing in doubt

Ongoing dispute over riverfront mall's future could be up to a judge

By Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It would not be hard for a fortune teller to predict trouble in the future of the Jacksonville Landing.

The food court shut down in October and the downtown riverfront mall recently suffered another loss when popular restaurant Cinco de Mayo closed its doors for good. 

The closures do not leave much for visitors to choose from. 

“I thought there were going to be a lot more places to eat,” said Thomas Shumate, who was visiting the Landing. 

The empty spaces that can be seen while walking through the Landing are troubling a lot of people. Rob Cantrell used to live in Jacksonville and knew the Landing when it was the centerpiece of Jacksonville. He couldn’t believe what he saw when he visited Tuesday. 

“I think it’s deplorable. We just recently moved from South Beach, which has one that is amazing,” Cantrell said. “I’m assuming they’re going to knock this down. There is nothing here.”

Landing owner Toney Sleiman and Mayor Lenny Curry have been at odds for some time. The mayor wants Sleiman out and has said in the past he would like to tear it down and start over.

The city owns the land on the Northbank of the St. Johns River, but it has leased the property to Jacksonville Landing Investments LLC, a subsidiary of Sleiman Enterprises Inc., for the last 15 years.

Despite that longstanding relationship, the agreement hit a snag last May when the city informed JLI it was terminating the lease, citing a breach of contract that wasn’t remedied within 30 days

News4Jax reported Friday that the city rejected a $107,000 rent check from JLI. It's the latest move in an ongoing feud that is currently tied up in civil court. 

When News4Jax tried talking with Sleiman by phone, he declined to comment.

In a statement, Jacksonville Landing Investments said, in part, “The Landing paid the rent and disputes the city assessment  that the lease is terminated.”

The statement goes on to say the city is in violation of the lease and claims the administration has not acted in the spirit of partnership. Jacksonville Landing Investments said it hopes the city will come to the table again and talk about the future. 

The mayor’s staff is not commenting due to pending litigation. 

So, back to the fortune teller -- the future of the Landing could be up to a judge. 

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