Rather than hijack the December construction update thread (which I essentially already have done), I thought I'd start a separate thread devoted to the Landing, and where we think it should go.
Holiday season is here and work is slow, so I'm just browsing the internet and posting. The Landing is very intriguing to me, and historically I have berated Toney and team over their decisions regarding the Landing. I am done doing that, but I do question the logic that goes into the business plan for the Landing (if there even is one).
I recently read the below two articles:Jacksonville's Feeding Frenzy - The Rise of Independent RestaurantsJacksonville Tower Troubles Potentially Resolved
The Salty Fig, a Southern gastropub, is the anomaly among the restaurants opening this year. Owners and brothers Jeff and John Stanford started the concept in July as a food truck known by the same name. The restaurant is expected to open in brick-and-mortar space in Riverside at 901 King St. in November.
Jeff Stanford said he financed all of the $500,000 build-out cost through private equity. While financing might still be extremely difficult for new restaurants, Stanford said itâ€™s also a good opportunity, as hard costs like rental rates are still at record lows.
I believe that the Landing holds the largest key to downtown's rebirth, and Toney knows it, which is probably why he's trying to hold the city hostage for incentives. Maybe the city is PO'd at Toney for doing so, maybe the city is just blind and dumb, but the city just approved millions of short and long term taxpayer based funding for a garage for the majority owners of the SunTrust tower, and this garage does not satisfy the agreement it entered into with Sleiman way back when.
The SunTrust tower leasing up/selling out of all its office condos is not the catalyst needed to bring downtown back. Everbank's relocation won't do so either (it merely takes an office building backed by CMBS out of special servicing).
A lot of downtown office users seem to be placing a value on "cool" and vibrant environments. If there is no difference between working downtown and the suburbs, except downtown the floorplans are less efficient, the parking isn't free, and the rents are higher...and your employees are still hopping in their cars for lunch and coffee and after work entertainment, then there is no point being downtown.
The Landing, to me, could facilitate a wave of "cool" to come DT. It could truly be a cool place, serving area workers, tourists, local/suburban shoppers looking for a different experience with lots of offerings under one roof, etc.
It's also centrally located and has a lot of space available for both retail/F&B and specialty office users.
Why the city is throwing so much money at a garage that wastes a prime piece of developable land and violates every zoning code for the area is beyond me. For $3MM, the city could actually help Sleiman turn the Landing completely around and set it on a path to righteousness that would do more to attract more office tenants downtown than another parking garage (which so far has failed to attract anybody as has been highly publicized here and in the papers).
Faneuil Hall, Ferry Building, Chelsea Market, Westside Provisions District and others literally reinvented entire areas. Not only are they now considered trophy assets in and of themselves, attracting the biggest names in private equity and public REITs, they have raised the desirability of their respective areas such that those area have greatly elevated retail and office rents compared to their respective markets.
My own company (private equity) has invested in retail/restaurant prospects, and we often find tenants who are backed by local money (a group of dentists is backing a restaurant we are close to signing in a Nashville development I work on). Financing is tricky, but the city needs to be smarter about how it throws around taxpayer money (we don't have money to keep lights on or mow the grass or keep libraries open, but we'll divert funds for a garage?), and Sleiman needs to suck it up and realize his dream development isn't going to happen automatically...he's going to have to do it himself.