Author Topic: UF President Ben Sasse to announce university's new plans in Jacksonville  (Read 59254 times)

thelakelander

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UF campus West Palm Beach is on hold due to 'regrettable division' in the community
The university, citing "some regrettable divisions in the local community," said whether they'll ever go forward with a West Palm campus will now be part of its six-month strategic review.

https://www.palmbeachpost.com/story/news/local/westpb/2023/02/28/uf-says-campus-in-west-palm-beach-on-hold-due-to-jeff-greene-conflict/69954220007/

I think it's very interesting how much investment was already springing up around the proposed WPB campus. Especially looking at that "transit village" planned around the Tri-Rail station there. With the Rosa Parks transit hub across State St from the campus, and the U2C TOD study focusing so much development around there, I wonder if any local developers will take advantage of that.

LaVilla, Hansontown and the Black Bottom are a pretty hot spots these days! If this happens, it will complement a number of projects in the vicinity that are already in the works.
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Jax_Developer

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Quote
UF campus West Palm Beach is on hold due to 'regrettable division' in the community
The university, citing "some regrettable divisions in the local community," said whether they'll ever go forward with a West Palm campus will now be part of its six-month strategic review.

https://www.palmbeachpost.com/story/news/local/westpb/2023/02/28/uf-says-campus-in-west-palm-beach-on-hold-due-to-jeff-greene-conflict/69954220007/

I think it's very interesting how much investment was already springing up around the proposed WPB campus. Especially looking at that "transit village" planned around the Tri-Rail station there. With the Rosa Parks transit hub across State St from the campus, and the U2C TOD study focusing so much development around there, I wonder if any local developers will take advantage of that.

Sadly no. The rents in the area can't support medium density development. The Corner Lot project is using practically every incentive possible to make it happen on 1st & main. UF or someone would need to guarantee lease rates or subsidize the projects early on. Certainly once the site is actually under construction, the conversation changes. WPB has rental rates that far exceed $2psf.
 

Ken_FSU

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Broken record, but I still have an impossible time believing that the project that Curry and UF are talking about for Jacksonville isn't the same project that is/was offered to West Palm Beach. It's just too convenient that West Palm hits a roadblock and suddenly there's a hastily arranged press conference in Jacksonville to discuss an eerily similar Jax campus. I've lived in Jacksonville and been around the local politics long enough to know that there is rarely such things as coincidences.

Assuming we are talking about the same project, that leaves us with two scenarios:

1) UF genuinely has moved on from West Palm Beach, and is legitimately interested in Jacksonville for its new AI-driven graduate campus.
2) UF still sees West Palm as the most advantageous location for its new graduate campus, and is using Jacksonville (and $100 million in transferrable state money) as leverage to get their requested concessions from WPB

I've got far less confidence in which of the above is true. I'm hoping it's 1, while fearing it's 2.

I can't see a universe though where we should give $50 million in taxpayer dollars to UF without assurances that either they've moved on from West Palm, or that they have serious interest in Jacksonville as a second location for a graduate campus, assuming WPB comes back online.

Also, UF has stated that residential (student and faculty housing) will be a component of their new campus. And JEA has stated that they're on board to provide land and $10 million in free utilities to UF. Assuming the campus is a real thing that eventually happens, I wonder if there's an opportunity for UF and JEA to partner on converting JEA's existing headquarters to residential when they move into the new building. It's only like 2 or 3 blocks from the proposed campus.




Jax_Developer

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Great points and I agree.

Also I saw, at one point, that JEA plans to dispose (I believe it was an RFP-like disposition) of the old HQ post move. Residential would be the only real use for it. The rooftop lounge would be a cool feature to revitalize. 

CityLife

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Broken record, but I still have an impossible time believing that the project that Curry and UF are talking about for Jacksonville isn't the same project that is/was offered to West Palm Beach. It's just too convenient that West Palm hits a roadblock and suddenly there's a hastily arranged press conference in Jacksonville to discuss an eerily similar Jax campus. I've lived in Jacksonville and been around the local politics long enough to know that there is rarely such things as coincidences.

Assuming we are talking about the same project, that leaves us with two scenarios:

1) UF genuinely has moved on from West Palm Beach, and is legitimately interested in Jacksonville for its new AI-driven graduate campus.
2) UF still sees West Palm as the most advantageous location for its new graduate campus, and is using Jacksonville (and $100 million in transferrable state money) as leverage to get their requested concessions from WPB

I've got far less confidence in which of the above is true. I'm hoping it's 1, while fearing it's 2.

I can't see a universe though where we should give $50 million in taxpayer dollars to UF without assurances that either they've moved on from West Palm, or that they have serious interest in Jacksonville as a second location for a graduate campus, assuming WPB comes back online.

Also, UF has stated that residential (student and faculty housing) will be a component of their new campus. And JEA has stated that they're on board to provide land and $10 million in free utilities to UF. Assuming the campus is a real thing that eventually happens, I wonder if there's an opportunity for UF and JEA to partner on converting JEA's existing headquarters to residential when they move into the new building. It's only like 2 or 3 blocks from the proposed campus.

I believe it’s number 2, but I think UF is legitimately considering moving on. The developer they are dealing with (Jeff Greene) is notoriously difficult to deal with and doesn't get along well with the City of WPB. I also don't believe UF wants his name attached to the building or university in any way.  He is currently constructing this building and halted construction of it for a year (after it was topped out) to play a game of chicken with the City over his desire to reduce the mix of office. He ultimately lost and started construction again, but I believe there are still some bad feelings about it. He's Jax's best friend right now.



« Last Edit: March 01, 2023, 02:30:32 PM by CityLife »

thelakelander

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Also, UF has stated that residential (student and faculty housing) will be a component of their new campus. And JEA has stated that they're on board to provide land and $10 million in free utilities to UF. Assuming the campus is a real thing that eventually happens, I wonder if there's an opportunity for UF and JEA to partner on converting JEA's existing headquarters to residential when they move into the new building. It's only like 2 or 3 blocks from the proposed campus.

If there's student housing involved, I would not doubt that every single piece of dirt immediately surrounding FSCJ's campus has high potential for this type of use.
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thelakelander

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Great points and I agree.

Also I saw, at one point, that JEA plans to dispose (I believe it was an RFP-like disposition) of the old HQ post move. Residential would be the only real use for it. The rooftop lounge would be a cool feature to revitalize. 

Yes, JEA no longer plans to raze the building. It took a lot of behind-the-scenes hard work over the last few years for that outcome to materialize.

My guess is that their building's best use is what it was when it was originally built in the 1960s. Mixed-use. However, this time more of a mix of residential-hotel as opposed to office in the tower portion of the two block site.

The most interesting part of the JEA complex to me is the old Ivey's building and what happens on the top five floors with no windows!
« Last Edit: March 01, 2023, 01:14:18 PM by thelakelander »
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marcuscnelson

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Quote
UF campus West Palm Beach is on hold due to 'regrettable division' in the community
The university, citing "some regrettable divisions in the local community," said whether they'll ever go forward with a West Palm campus will now be part of its six-month strategic review.

https://www.palmbeachpost.com/story/news/local/westpb/2023/02/28/uf-says-campus-in-west-palm-beach-on-hold-due-to-jeff-greene-conflict/69954220007/

I think it's very interesting how much investment was already springing up around the proposed WPB campus. Especially looking at that "transit village" planned around the Tri-Rail station there. With the Rosa Parks transit hub across State St from the campus, and the U2C TOD study focusing so much development around there, I wonder if any local developers will take advantage of that.

Sadly no. The rents in the area can't support medium density development. The Corner Lot project is using practically every incentive possible to make it happen on 1st & main. UF or someone would need to guarantee lease rates or subsidize the projects early on. Certainly once the site is actually under construction, the conversation changes. WPB has rental rates that far exceed $2psf.

Okay, fair enough if we're not immediately getting a $1.3 billion transit village. But a big point of a big premier state university campus is attracting people who are willing to rent new apartments rather than the relatively minimal existing housing stock, whether that's students here, the graduates, or professors. Having multiple other schools nearby that could take advantage of any project (including JU and UNF's downtown campuses, FSCJ even, perhaps some EWU students) could be helpful. I don't think it'd be unreasonable for UF to support an adjacent residential/mixed use project and even subsidizing some units for their students or employees. They bought an entire newer apartment complex in Gainesville not long ago to repurpose for subsidizing graduate housing. If they're serious about Jacksonville they could very well do something similar.

A friend who lived in Newark a decade ago told me it wasn't a blistering market back when they first started school there, and the whole neighborhood was aching for new rentals even though the apartment market at that time was weak. That seems similar to where we are now.

Broken record, but I still have an impossible time believing that the project that Curry and UF are talking about for Jacksonville isn't the same project that is/was offered to West Palm Beach. It's just too convenient that West Palm hits a roadblock and suddenly there's a hastily arranged press conference in Jacksonville to discuss an eerily similar Jax campus. I've lived in Jacksonville and been around the local politics long enough to know that there is rarely such things as coincidences.

Assuming we are talking about the same project, that leaves us with two scenarios:

1) UF genuinely has moved on from West Palm Beach, and is legitimately interested in Jacksonville for its new AI-driven graduate campus.
2) UF still sees West Palm as the most advantageous location for its new graduate campus, and is using Jacksonville (and $100 million in transferrable state money) as leverage to get their requested concessions from WPB

I've got far less confidence in which of the above is true. I'm hoping it's 1, while fearing it's 2.

I can't see a universe though where we should give $50 million in taxpayer dollars to UF without assurances that either they've moved on from West Palm, or that they have serious interest in Jacksonville as a second location for a graduate campus, assuming WPB comes back online.

Also, UF has stated that residential (student and faculty housing) will be a component of their new campus. And JEA has stated that they're on board to provide land and $10 million in free utilities to UF. Assuming the campus is a real thing that eventually happens, I wonder if there's an opportunity for UF and JEA to partner on converting JEA's existing headquarters to residential when they move into the new building. It's only like 2 or 3 blocks from the proposed campus.

I was thinking early in this, before we knew about the site selection, that a campus made up of the three blocks (save for the existing Salvation Army stuff) along Main Street between Church and Adams Streets (including the current Main Street Pocket Park), with the addition of the JEA building if that became available, would be a really cool urban location, especially if there was the ability to slow down Main Street so it'd be better for pedestrians. You'd be able to leverage the JEA site, plus have the Main Library right there, with multiple existing apartment buildings within a block of Adams & Main. You could even take advantage of the FBC Academy block, and the garage to the north of it. There's also the Jessie to the south, JWJ Park and the Skyway to the west, and Cathedral District and Elbow to the east. It'd be a great spot in the heart of downtown, but I imagine the hardest part would be securing all the parcels. Benefit of the currently highlighted site is that everything is either owned by FSCJ, JEA, or COJ.

I think in the end, UF would have preferred West Palm Beach (Jacksonville did lose the competitive process after all), but given everything with Greene they're open to trying to make it work here. If that's the case, and they're serious, we might as well lock it down as much as we can.
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

Jax_Developer

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In an ideal world, UF agrees to some type of JV or flat out self-develops adjacent properties for housing/dorm use. I do think the confirmation of when & what would really churn things up quick. There are a lot of great buildings nearby already too..! except for that 5-story windowless building.. lol. I don't know how you retrofit that. Probably will meet the infamous wrecking ball at some point if this all goes well.

vicupstate

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Is putting windows in a window-less building that difficult?  It doesn't seem to be that strange or unusual, but I am no expert.
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Charles Hunter

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There are two more vacant, or almost vacant, parcels across State Street from the FSCJ site, on either side of Laura Street - the "TOD" site on the east side of the Rosa Parks, and on the other side of Laura, the former drive-through bank and site of the former funeral home, extending all the way to the 7-11. Using these for educational, office, or residential would likely require a pedestrian overpass above State Street since I don't foresee anything happening to slow traffic on State.

thelakelander

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Is putting windows in a window-less building that difficult?  It doesn't seem to be that strange or unusual, but I am no expert.

You just put windows into it. It's a solid 180,000 square foot building (old department store) with very high ceiling heights.
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thelakelander

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There are two more vacant, or almost vacant, parcels across State Street from the FSCJ site, on either side of Laura Street - the "TOD" site on the east side of the Rosa Parks, and on the other side of Laura, the former drive-through bank and site of the former funeral home, extending all the way to the 7-11. Using these for educational, office, or residential would likely require a pedestrian overpass above State Street since I don't foresee anything happening to slow traffic on State.

Just modify the signal timing to be more pedestrian friendly. It's pretty easy to cross State and Union on foot when traffic is stopped for the north/south streets.
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Jax_Developer

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Is putting windows in a window-less building that difficult?  It doesn't seem to be that strange or unusual, but I am no expert.

You just put windows into it. It's a solid 180,000 square foot building (old department store) with very high ceiling heights.

Ah yeah.. Ceilings and floor plates. I didn't know it was an old department store.. that's interesting. I'd like to see other uses DT and this building could easily fill an IT or Communications role without much retrofit.

marcuscnelson

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Is putting windows in a window-less building that difficult?  It doesn't seem to be that strange or unusual, but I am no expert.

You just put windows into it. It's a solid 180,000 square foot building (old department store) with very high ceiling heights.

If nothing else, sounds optimal for perhaps a lecture hall building of some kind. Easier than most buildings (save for a new build) to add auditorium-style seating, then some smaller classrooms in other areas.
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