Author Topic: Study recommends JEA demolish, rebuild headquarters at $57 to $64 million  (Read 6401 times)

thelakelander

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Did the discussion concerning the old JEA building ever have any movement past this?

http://www.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/news/2015/04/09/developer-proposing-31-million-project-at-former.html

I was told by a credible source that this project is still moving forward.
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Jim

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I love the look of the old Ivy (now JEA) building. I remember this building in the early to mid 60s when it was virtually new (I was about 7 or 8 years old back then). I have always loved skyscrapers and was in awe of them and back in the day I used to get happy when my Mom said we were going shopping to Woolworth's, penny's, may cohens, etc. It was a treat to me holding her hand and just gawking and staring at those tall buildings (no true talls or even supertalls in jax back then). In my opinion, and I hope, they sell the existing building, and build a brand new skyscraper (around 400 to 500 feet tall), to provide a signature and impact to the city and the skyline; hey, JEA is a local business and commercial force in Jacksonville, so don't be scared JEA, provide an "in your face" impact and effect by building a signature skyscraper to add to our already interesting skyline (it could use a lot more for a city of almost 900K people). This is my take.


I like that mind set. Skyscrapers are always appropriate in the downtown area of a big city, and Jax is in desperate need of some signature buildings. I was in both Tampa and Orlando this past weekend and was so thrilled to see the wonderful highrises they both have giving that big city look and feel that Jax desperately needs.   I'm just tired of having to avoid downtown when I have visitors in town for fear they will be disappointed with,  or laugh at our downtown. Maybe one good size building of at least 25 stories is needed to stimulate downtown in general and surely other developments even taller will follow.
Tampa I can understand but Orlando I don't.  Jax is taller and has more towers over 300' or 25 floors.  Granted Orlando has more newer towers.
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thelakelander

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Age and perception are the main things with the skylines of Jax and Orlando. Jax's skyline is essentially the same as what it was since the completion of BOA during the early 1990s.  Orlando only had two decent highrises back in those days (three if you count the Orange County Courthouse completed around 1995).  Now, two decades later, it's got an impressive skyline that's short but also bit more denser.  Even though it's pretty small for a metro Orlando's size, it's all new so it's is viewed as progress.  On the other hand, Jax's skyline was always larger than the typical skyline for a city its size, due to the banks and insurance companies that used to be headquartered here.  It literally hasn't grown because we ended up with a glut of empty existing space when those companies left via consolidation in those industries.  Thus, Jax's situation revolves around backfilling vacant space while Orlando is building space that it never had.  So even though we've landed some major companies like EverBank and Citizens, you'd never know it from passing through town because the buildings they're housed in were already standing.
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camarocane

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Did the discussion concerning the old JEA building ever have any movement past this?

http://www.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/news/2015/04/09/developer-proposing-31-million-project-at-former.html

I was told by a credible source that this project is still moving forward.

Last I heard they were committed to staying in downtown Jax. If it moves forward, they will put the building up for sale while they build out at another location. If it doesn't sell during that time,  the building will be demo'ed and a park constructed in its place.  If we're years away from any action on this, I sure hope the mindset changes and the building can be saved.

jaxjaguar

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Not sure if it would be possible, I'm not very familiar with how codes / designs work, but it would be awesome to see it converted into a mixture of offices/hotel/condo/apartments/reopen the rooftop restaurant. It's really not a bad location for all of those and it would help spark the re-use of the old, old JEA building behind Sweet Pete's IMO.

Also, as someone who lived in downtown Jax for almost 5 years and has lived in / near downtown Orlando the last 3 years, it's definitely the density and "newness" that makes Orlando's downtown better. As Lake said, most of the highrises are barely 10-20 years old and many of them are mixed use. Downtown Orlando also feels a lot cleaner than downtown Jax. I think it's a combination of the pocket parks and greenery hanging from the light posts. There's just as many hobo's hobbling around here, but since there are so many more people living in a smaller space you don't notice/feel unsafe because you're never alone. 55 W, Cobb Plaza, Solair, Post Parkside, Paramount On Lake Eola, and Aspire are just SOME of the mixed use highrises here. They all have a mix of ground level shops, bars, businesses, restaurants, PUBLIX, CVS, etc. And there are cranes constantly putting in new mid/high rises. Seriously, I can't even count how many new buildings have gone up just in the last 3 years and there's no sign of it stopping. UCF is about to start work on a massive campus expansion downtown, a new SunRail/multimodal hub is being designed, and this is about to start construction. http://www.lpcsoutheast.com/properties/tremont-plaza/

Unlike Jacksonville, nearly all of the highrises have shops, restaurants, bars and businesses on the ground floor. When you walk around downtown Orlando at any given time, day or night, you see people patronizing these places. In the time I lived downtown Jacksonville I would run and ride my bike nearly everyday. I liked exploring new areas. But man, everywhere always seems dead. Even in the day time. Riverplace blvd is a prime example of a spot that doesn't exist in Downtown Orlando. You have the cities premier public spaces there (Riverwalk, Friendship Fountain, Treaty Park, MoSH, Apartments, Offices, Hotels, etc), but nothing is on the ground level so you rarely see anyone. Even the vagrants don't walk around there.

Long rant short, until Jacksonville starts embracing mixed use buildings and enforcing new buildings/renovated highrises to create public ground level spaces it will never thrive. Yes, we need more places to live, but from what I've seen even the new apartments that are going in next to the Court house and Convention center completely ignore the sidewalks and the city isn't doing anything about it. Hopefully once the density picks up a little more they put their heels down...

heights unknown

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I think Jax has an impressive skyline; but it is not dense, nor proportionate. It is not a skyline that's commensurate with a city of close to 1 million people. Miami is a city whose skyline is disproportionate for a city of almost 500,000 people. Miami's skyline is that of a city of close to or over a million people in population in my opinion. Jax needs more, skyscraper wise on the North Bank. The South Bank will take care of itself (and it has). It would be nice if JEA, which is a top tier company in the Jax Area, would take the lead so to speak and dare to pierce into the clouds and skyline with a super tall that would totally scream Jacksonville when people see it. You guys can down play it, dismiss it, or bark at it, but almost EVERYONE loves seeing, viewing, and checking out city skylines and tall buildings and towers within those skylines; you cannot refute this or dismiss it. So let's get em built when we get the chance! The BOA Tower in Charlotte did just that for that southern city. When you see that tower you know that's the city of Charlotte, and it screams FOR the city. No, towers/skyscrapers do not make a city; people make a city. But the attitude and emotion of that city, whether positive or negative, especially a big or major city, permeates through the buildings and skyline of the urban core/downtown.

I have included/attached a recent picture which is the best picture ever I have seen of downtown Jacksonville and the Urban Core. Just click on the below link and check it out; it is a cool aerial of downtown Jax.

https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=0%2BfIwDzm&id=98FB84276A7644A027A458FFDACC7CE4C5298700&thid=OIP.0-fIwDzmWB_XrCHey-cwXQEsCO&q=aerial+photos+of+downtown+jacksonville&simid=608045724190247187&selectedindex=67&mode=overlay&first=1

« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 01:46:44 PM by heights unknown »
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Jim

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I think Jax has an impressive skyline; but it is not dense, nor proportionate. It is not a skyline that's commensurate with a city of close to 1 million people. Miami is a city whose skyline is disproportionate for a city of almost 500,000 people. Miami's skyline is that of a city of close to or over a million people in population in my opinion. Jax needs more, skyscraper wise on the North Bank. The South Bank will take care of itself (and it has). It would be nice if JEA, which is a top tier company in the Jax Area, would take the lead so to speak and dare to pierce into the clouds and skyline with a super tall that would totally scream Jacksonville when people see it. You guys can down play it, dismiss it, or bark at it, but almost EVERYONE loves seeing, viewing, and checking out city skylines and tall buildings and towers within those skylines; you cannot refute this or dismiss it. So let's get em built when we get the chance! The BOA Tower in Charlotte did just that for that southern city. When you see that tower you know that's the city of Charlotte, and it screams FOR the city. No, towers/skyscrapers do not make a city; people make a city. But the attitude and emotion of that city, whether positive or negative, especially a big or major city, permeates through the buildings and skyline of the urban core/downtown.

I have included/attached a recent picture which is the best picture ever I have seen of downtown Jacksonville and the Urban Core. Just click on the below link and check it out; it is a cool aerial of downtown Jax.

https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=0%2BfIwDzm&id=98FB84276A7644A027A458FFDACC7CE4C5298700&thid=OIP.0-fIwDzmWB_XrCHey-cwXQEsCO&q=aerial+photos+of+downtown+jacksonville&simid=608045724190247187&selectedindex=67&mode=overlay&first=1



You have to look at metro population when comparing downtown.  Otherwise San Fransisco and Seattle are insane compared to San Jose.


As for best pics of Jax skyline, I have a good one for you.


thelakelander

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Great shots Jim!

I think Jax has an impressive skyline; but it is not dense, nor proportionate. It is not a skyline that's commensurate with a city of close to 1 million people. Miami is a city whose skyline is disproportionate for a city of almost 500,000 people. Miami's skyline is that of a city of close to or over a million people in population in my opinion.

City limit numbers are pretty deceiving.  Miami is the core city of the country's 8th largest metropolitan area with 6 million residents.  Jax is the core city of the country's 40th largest metropolitan area with 1.5 million residents.  Jax's skyline measures up well with metropolitan areas within its range like Oklahoma City, Memphis (hehe RattlerGator), Raleigh, Norfolk, Milwaukee, etc.

Quote
Jax needs more, skyscraper wise on the North Bank. The South Bank will take care of itself (and it has).

The river definitely creates a unique dynamic with the skyline.  However, when viewed from an angle that combines both the Southbank and Northbank, or shows the hidden highrises of the Northbank, the skyline is much larger than we typically think.








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camarocane

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Nice perspective Jim, is that taken from the cruise terminal?

Jim

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Nearby the cruise terminal.  They were taken from Mill Cove but they are not my own.  Matt Robinson took those.   

I have others that are similar though.  At the old site, I had a long collection of my photos.  I may have to do it here again.

TimmyB

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Grand Rapids, Michigan is an almost identically-sized MSA to Jacksonville, and also an older city with the river being it's reason for being.  If you look at its skyline, there is nothing about it that screams "look at me" any more than Jacksonville's.  However, they have a great hockey team that puts 12,000 people into seats 40+ times a year, a concert calendar that probably does another 80-100 nights, and that wavy shaped building just over the trees is a massive convention center that packs things in nearly every week.  There is residential, there is commercial, and there is life.  30 years ago, almost none of this existed.  It obviously takes more than just pretty buildings; it takes a commitment by people who have large wallets and even more belief in their city.  Until Jacksonville has that, I am unconvinced that anything like this will take place.


thelakelander

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My last trip to Grand Rapids was in 2008. 

http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2008-sep-elements-of-urbanism-grand-rapids

I may be up in the area briefly this summer.  It seemed to have a pretty clean and impressive downtown back then.  Like Orlando, the downtown skyline is smaller than most metropolitan areas its size.  However, it has some decent density at the pedestrian scale level and a good number of buildings that meet and interact with the street.  I had a conversation with a friend at the Court Food Truck Park a few days ago.  We both agreed that one of the best things we could do with downtown is to retrofit existing buildings to better meet the street.  There are a ton of businesses on the ground floor of our office towers that most people don't even know about because there's no signage or visibility from the sidewalks.
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TimmyB

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35 years ago when I left there, you could go downtown after 6 PM and hit a golf ball without worrying about hitting a soul.  Obviously, that is not true today!  It took the commitment of a couple of local billionaires for everyone else to buy in to the vision.  It's a really cool place, now, and they keep making it better.  All the buildings that you see in the 2nd quarter of the picture are new since you were there (the"medical mile") and there is talk of ridding the Grand River of the dams and making it a paddling destination.

heights unknown

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Beautiful shots Jim; fantastic photos of Jax' skyline. To keep on topic, just hope JEA does build a signature "look at me" tower downtown.

I mentioned in my post that "people make a city, not the buildings" no matter how tall or how pretty; this I know.

And yes, people with deep pockets that are ready to commit and contribute, and, the city's economy has to be there as well; several things must be in place to support those talls and super talls.

Love those pics thought that Jim took. I have often seen Jax from those vantage points, for the exception of from the east side (Dames Point?).

I also understand the population proportion, i.e., urban population, MSA, Metro, etc. Some cities have skylines and buildup in the urban core commensurate with their population; Jax does not. Thanx to consolidation, Jax's population relative to urban core and metro buildup is indeed misleading and deceptive; but I believe that soon everything will fall into place.

Back to the topic at hand, JEA needs to "step up" and build a signature building; that is all.
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Tacachale

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35 years ago when I left there, you could go downtown after 6 PM and hit a golf ball without worrying about hitting a soul.  Obviously, that is not true today!  It took the commitment of a couple of local billionaires for everyone else to buy in to the vision.  It's a really cool place, now, and they keep making it better.  All the buildings that you see in the 2nd quarter of the picture are new since you were there (the"medical mile") and there is talk of ridding the Grand River of the dams and making it a paddling destination.

Grand Rapids' downtown/urban core is very impressive. TimmyB, you give more credit to the local billionaire patrons than I would - they were/are important, but the real thing that made it happen was the Grand Action plan. It was a public-private plan with a lot of emphasis on continuity and public buy-in. They picked a plan and stuck with it - there were some boneheaded moves, but ultimately things shook out and they built on the smart moves, and now it has the feel of a vibrant city much larger than it is.

In comparison, Jax hasn't put nearly that kind of investment in, and especially, we haven't had nearly the followthrough between administrations. To give an example, in the same time frame we had a lot of Downtown investment under Mayor Godbold in the 80s. Not everything was well considered by modern standards - the Southbank Riverwalk was on the wrong side of the river, the Landing's got its back to downtown - but overall the momentum was great. But there was little followthrough under the Hazouri administration, which didn't have a major downtown focus. Under Mayor Austin we got back on track with River City Renaissance - again, some missteps (LaVilla) but a lot of other steps forward. When my old man was mayor, it was really the last time we had an administration that tried to build on the predecessors' successors downtown. The result was a large amount of projects and the Better Jacksonville Plan, and even a formal downtown master plan. But then, Mayors Peyton and Brown didn't do much for Downtown - existing projects were finished off (some more successfully than others), but little new was started. Mayor Curry is poised to make some big moves with several projects, but it feels like we're starting from scratch again.

We have a tendency to be overly negative in Jax; we actually do a lot right. Few cities have things like the Timucuan Preserve, we're growing fast, and we have a pretty robust and diverse local economy (especially compared to Michigan). Unfortunately we still haven't figured out Downtown, and we're far behind for a city of our size. Sadly I don't see that changing anytime soon; most of the positive moves downtown haven't had anything to do with the city leadership.
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