Author Topic: Landmark downtown restaurant River City Brewing could make way for apartments  (Read 8310 times)

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31855
    • Modern Cities
I would like to see much more much sooner.  As a long timer, it's frustrating to watch how the City has (mis)managed itself over these many decades and continues to do so while the rest of much of the world passes us by.  Guess I am losing some patience with the prevalence of our continued backward thinking.  Hope springs eternal though  8)!

We all would, that's why we're here.

When it comes to downtown, I'd love for us to be accomplish being average first. We dream big, show pretty pictures of spaces that cost +$100 million to build, yet we still can't get public restrooms in many of the parks we already have. For the planner in me, struggling to implement the basics is probably the most frustrating thing in discussions about downtown revitalization. The fiasco around the planning of courthouse plaza and the condition of James Weldon Johnson Park are great examples of this. Cities big and small would have transformed these spaces decades ago already.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

Ken_FSU

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 695
I’m all for progress, but I’ve got mixed feelings about this one. River City is one of our most beautiful riverfront dining spaces, even if the restaurant itself is fairly unspectacular. Lot of history there too dating back over 50 years. We’ve already lost a ton of riverfront dining with the demolition of the Landing that isn’t going to be regained with the Curry design.

Do we really want to tear down another active use, spend $3 million in public money on dock repair for the developer, and hand out the 20-year, 75 percent tax abatement the developer is requesting, just to replace an existing restaurant with apartments with limited retail (a small boat supply shop). Feels like a zero sum game, at best, influenced by a desire to hit some arbitrary downtown resident goal.

I also worry this would mean hitting pause, potentially for years, on the existing Friendship Fountain/St. John’s River Park that is already designed out now that there’s the potential to add more land.

Feels like restaurant use is more compatible with the Mosh expansion plans too.

We’re sitting on 100 acres of undeveloped riverfront downtown, feels silly to keep knocking down functional shit to make way for new development (or lawns). The Landing. Doro Fixtures. Courthouse Site. River City Brewing.

acme54321

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2557
Did Doro get demoed yet?  Haven't been down there since COVID.

Ken_FSU

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 695
Did Doro get demoed yet?  Haven't been down there since COVID.

Rise (the developer) just closed on their purchase of the property on Wednesday.

They are prohibited from demoing the Doro buildings until permitting for vertical construction is in and work is imminent. That said, they plan to have construction underway this year, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the buildings gone by end of November.

I’ve heard that the Jags are excited about and indirectly supporting the project, and I’ve also heard that Lot J and stadium renovation talks - perhaps in a combined package - are going to be pick back up in October.

jaxjaguar

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 670
If we were ever to fight for density be that by height or by using every inch of land, this is the spot to do it... This spot arguably has the best view possible of the north bank skyline, has access to the most prominent dock downtown, across the street from skyway and river taxi, next to our most prominent downtown park.
A mixed building makes sense here with variable levels of cost housing and maximum density.
That being said we'll find a way to spend $5 million to tear down the restaurant without anything in contact to replace it. Demolition will cause permanent damage to friendship fountain resulting in another $5 million to tear it down. A fire from that demolition will destroy MoSH and mayor Curry will decide we have enough funding to support an illegal sod parking lot for 3 years.

jaxlongtimer

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 787
I think the constant challenge that comes up in municipal economic development is that there's no guarantee of better economic development in the long run. Unless there is a consistent driver that will effectively guarantee future growth (i.e. Gainesville being home to the state's flagship university), tomorrow isn't necessarily promised. Jax staved off greater decline by annexing/consolidating its suburbs instead of letting the residential tax base run (which it seems many responded to by simply moving to even further suburbs, but besides the point). Ideally, the "adults" in the room should be thinking more about making the types of investments that won't immediately pay off, but that's hard to do when whether it paying off at all might be a question. It's been said before here that whoever loses the Jaguars will be run out of town on a rail, and it doesn't seem much less true these days. Obviously, we can do better, other cities are, but to a limited extent I understand the desperation. People have different definitions of "quality of life," which is also a big factor.

To your point, this pattern of behavior is symptomatic, to me, of an inferiority complex, and I am not the first to think that is the prevailing civic mindset here.  I don't get it.  Jacksonville has amazing natural assets, a diversified and resilient economy, steady growth, and some great quality of life attributes that any city would be envious of.  But you would never know it sometimes as we constantly sell the City short in negotiations (some might say we prostitute ourselves).  It seems we always think we have to latch on to any and everyone who makes a pass at us, giving them all of our gold to impress and attract them.  The best partners are often attracted to those who exhibit self confidence and self esteem, not who over-attend to them.  It is this same strength that should be exerted in attaining results that benefit the widest swath of the community, not just a few, and do so for the long run, not necessarily for the sugar high short run.

As Jacksonville grows further, we will be destined to a day when our community thinks far differently than the one we have now.  And those future citizens will look back on these times, as we sometimes look back today on the 1950's to 1970's +/-, by example, and wonder what were people of the present thinking when they mangled so many opportunities to do things better for the greater good.

Captain Zissou

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3895
I love the idea, but don't like the design/site plan.  I'd rather have something taller on top of parking on the existing parking lot and more retail on the waterfront/park sides.  I know that it's not likely economically feasible, but this design doesn't leave much room left on one of the most prime spots in town. Related is a great company and I'd love for them to start looking at Jacksonville as a possible development center, but they way this project is laid out needs work.  (I'm going off the vague rendering on JDR)


acme54321

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2557
That layout they show on the JDR Is pretty wonky.  It all but eliminates the boat ramp, which I use a lot, so I'll be raising hell about that if it moves forward LOL.

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31855
    • Modern Cities
Wow, so no retail whatsoever? Talk about further killing reasons to spend time on the Southbank Riverwalk. I was hoping they'd at least incorporate a restaurant or something that would interact with the riverwalk and park.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

jaxlongtimer

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 787
It looks like the City is open to high rises abutting the river on both sides throughout Downtown.

No, the (new) zoning code does not permit new construction akin to the Strand/Peninsula along the riverfront. There are max height limits within so many feet of the waterfront.  If apartments are constructed on the RCB site, they would likely be set back from the waterfront. Most of the property is off the river (the trees in between the restaurant and Friendship Fountain are all on COJ property). I believe 5 stories is the max along the riverfront (see: Broadstone apartments next to School Board).
Quote
The eight-story apartment building will have an adjacent eight-story parking garage with 535 spaces.

https://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/article/related-group-proposes-dollar92-million-development-at-river-city-brewing-co-site



Field, so much for 5 stories and appropriate set backs.  Between the article and the picture, it proves my point completely.  I note that this will block a chunk of the river view (now replaced with a glorious view of the 8 story parking garage) from the Acosta bridge, a popular public viewing and walking spot, and, being at a turn in the river, the minimal setback will further restrict the view over its arc.  And, as noted, no interaction with the pedestrian traffic in the park or along the river walk (which I assume will remain although you can not easily see it in the picture.  Not very big if it is there.) 

Another point about these taller buildings are the shadows they cast on the public spaces around them and the potential for directing wind flows downward.

Please explain to me how this enhances appreciation of our river asset or falls in line with the purpose of those newly adopted zoning rules.  If this does meet the zoning rules, they are clearly not strict enough.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2020, 01:56:35 PM by jaxlongtimer »

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31855
    • Modern Cities
^What views are being blocked that aren't already being blocked by the current restaurant? What's your thoughts on a development with the same number of units but 16 or 24 stories tall along Riverplace Boulevard, creating more space between the building and the river?

Personally, I'm not against development at this site. It's currently a blight on the Southbank, IMO. Related is a good company with the ability to actually pull something off. I do think that it could be better though. However, this is where the DIA, DDRB and having an actual vision and plan of what we want our downtown to be, happens to come in.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

marcuscnelson

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 983
  • Gen Z - Tired of the status quo
What's your thoughts on a development with the same number of units but 16 or 24 stories tall along Riverplace Boulevard, creating more space between the building and the river?

I was thinking about something like this. If you cut off the L-shaped part closest to the river, and dropped it on top of the rest of the building/garage, it seems there'd be plenty of space to still have some sort of riverfront dining/additional park space. Or perhaps (don't know if the market supports this) spreading the garage to be maybe six stories with the same number of spaces, and the building on top of that?
So, to the young people fighting in this movement for change, here is my charge: march in the streets, protest, run for school committee or city council or the state legislature. And win. - Ed Markey

jaxlongtimer

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 787
^What views are being blocked that aren't already being blocked by the current restaurant? What's your thoughts on a development with the same number of units but 16 or 24 stories tall along Riverplace Boulevard, creating more space between the building and the river?

Personally, I'm not against development at this site. It's currently a blight on the Southbank, IMO. Related is a good company with the ability to actually pull something off. I do think that it could be better though. However, this is where the DIA, DDRB and having an actual vision and plan of what we want our downtown to be, happens to come in.

Lake, I think it goes without saying that a monster 8 story structure is going to obstruct many more views than a two story restaurant a fraction of the mass of this complex.  If a high rise was back from the river on Riverplace Blvd., I would buy into that far more than this that creeps up close to the river.

I also think it's a stretch to call the area blighted.  It's an active parking lot, restaurant and marina.  I haven't been to River City in awhile and you can say what you want about their service and food, but I always found the structure well maintained.

As I have advocated in other threads, if I had my druthers, we would expand the green space of Friendship Park over this parcel and leave it at that.  They can build these apartments in Rummel's project if they like the area that much and it would seem like he could use the assist  8).

Again, I say the City is giving away its gold for a short run sugar high.  Boyer, herself, said, its all about more residents downtown.  Public access and enjoyment be damned.  Where are all these "new residents" going to recreate at the rate we are giving up public green spaces?  I don't think a narrow river walk with little or no amenities is going to cut it.

Charles Hunter

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3214
Besides an 8-story wall right on the river, apparent lack of retail or restaurant interaction with the Riverwalk, and the increased traffic from 335 apartment, it look like MOSH is losing parking. 
Quote
According to the draft DIA term sheet, 30 parking spaces in the garage will be set aside for public use and Related Group must provide parking for the neighboring Museum of Science & History.

It is unclear how many spaces that "Related Group mut provide for the neighboring MOSH" - is it the 30 mentioned? How many more spaces?  Will they charge for these spaces? How much?

Also, although the rendering includes renovations to Friendship Park, it ignores the MOSH 2.0 expansion.

Even if the eventual parking garage includes adequate spaces reserved for MOSH, what about during the construction period of ... what ... 2 years?

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31855
    • Modern Cities

Lake, I think it goes without saying that a monster 8 story structure is going to obstruct many more views than a two story restaurant a fraction of the mass of this complex.  If a high rise was back from the river on Riverplace Blvd., I would buy into that far more than this that creeps up close to the river.

I think this site is a unique situation where it doesn't block anyone's views anymore than the existing building does, unless we're trying to preserve the views of the office tower across the street.


Quote
I also think it's a stretch to call the area blighted.  It's an active parking lot, restaurant and marina.  I haven't been to River City in awhile and you can say what you want about their service and food, but I always found the structure well maintained.

For the urbanist in me, a pedestrian hostile surface parking lots that consume acres of prime downtown property are the definition of blight. It looks straight out of the 1960s, stays empty 90% of the time and includes an aging parking attendant kiosk that's empty. The structure itself is pretty auto centric, suburban and totally ignores any interaction with the park adjacent to it.

It's great for something along the Intracoastal on Beach Boulevard but definitely not the best for a high profile downtown site. So from that perspective, I'm okay with seeing that building go. However, the restaurant space should be incorporated into the project. Related has no problem with building mixed-use projects in South Florida. They should be able to make it work here. Otherwise, they're basically putting a Town Center Parkway style apartment complex on the downtown riverfront.


Quote
As I have advocated in other threads, if I had my druthers, we would expand the green space of Friendship Park over this parcel and leave it at that.  They can build these apartments in Rummel's project if they like the area that much and it would seem like he could use the assist  8).

Rummel's project is off the beaten path. I can see how a developer would view this property as having greater potential, given the riverfront, highway access and the land uses immediately surrounding it.

Quote
Again, I say the City is giving away its gold for a short run sugar high.  Boyer, herself, said, its all about more residents downtown.  Public access and enjoyment be damned.  Where are all these "new residents" going to recreate at the rate we are giving up public green spaces?  I don't think a narrow river walk with little or no amenities is going to cut it.

I agree that a narrow river walk with little or no amenities isn't going to cut it. The city definitely needs a real community based plan and vision. Not just for the riverfront parks, but for the entire central business district. If something like that were in place, most of the individual projects being proposed by the private sector would then have some general guidance. As things currently stand, it's basically every man for himself with a wish that everything works out and goes together in the end.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali