A new office tower for JEA coming soon?

August 19, 2015 45 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

We've recently learned that the downtown campus the Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA), once gleefully proclaimed a Christmas present to JEA, is now viewed as a crumbling albatross. To rid itself of the imposing liability, the JEA is moving forward with study to determine if it should retrofit, move, or demolish and rebuild their 19-story downtown headquarters. If we view this situation outside of the JEA's perspective, the resolution becomes quite clear.

1. Demolish the tower and build a replacement

What's the point of spending millions to demolish a structurally sound 19-story tower because you don't want to replace systems like elevators, only to spend millions more on a new tower... with new systems... like elevators?

On the surface, this option would make more sense if the site was located in Midtown Manhattan.  However, this is downtown Jacksonville and property values aren't nearly as high. Based on 2014 property records, JEA's buildings and the 1.88 acres they are sitting on, are assessed at a combined $15.9 million.

In addition, much of the underutilized property in downtown is already owned by the City of Jacksonville or another local independent agency. Why spend millions to demolish a perfectly sound building in order to spend millions building a new structure of similar size on the same site?

Simply building a replacement structure elsewhere (Option 3), preferably on already owned public property, is a far cheaper option to consider. The overall cost would become even cheaper if JEA then sold the existing structure to the private sector... even at a dramatically reduced rate!

In the end, this option may be the craziest one to consider out of all.

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