Author Topic: Three high-impact downtown developments could require $244 million in incentives  (Read 10173 times)

thelakelander

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marcuscnelson

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Put like that, this sounds surprisingly less concerning, actually. The equivalent public investment of Lot J for about 1500 apartments, a hotel, retail, and support for public spaces in the heart of Downtown? Not bad.
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

Zac T

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In order of importance to Downtown, I'd prioritize them as:

1. Laura Street Trio
2. Pearl Street District
3. Related Tower

Steve

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^Same. Honestly, given the lack of synergy with other buildings and such with Related I'd say if you have to drop one that would be it. The other two are critical to the overall downtown success.

thelakelander

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1/2 - Laura Street Trio and Pearl Street District.

I could argue that Pearl Street is more important than the Trio but both are up there. Coming in light years in last place.......
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Related Tower

"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

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^Same. Honestly, given the lack of synergy with other buildings and such with Related I'd say if you have to drop one that would be it. The other two are critical to the overall downtown success.

Especially because the Related deal would also give them right of first refusal on the MOSH site. Might as well set that down for now, move MOSH and then move forward one singular plan for the whole area instead of half being a plan and half being in limbo. Market might improve in the meantime so that so much incentive isn’t as necessary.
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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Agreed that Related is the least important in terms of what has been mentioned here, but arguably it is the most important if our goal is to ever develop the flashy hi-rise parcels downtown. Most out of town developers doubt DT's ability to pull high enough rents. Related could prove that to be wrong (or right). Southbank will need to demonstrate positive economics before the Northbank.

thelakelander

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^Isn't Pearl Street's tower taller than Related? Plus its in the Northbank and no where near the river.
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Steve

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I mean on the river will always have higher rents. That is a foregone conclusion.

To me the market establishment will be based on a high rise on N Pearl Street.

Jax_Developer

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No, Related is the tallest building. Also pretty sure that Gateway is not providing parking to the same ratio that Related is. They were smart & bought that parking garage nearby. I don't see anywhere near 500 parking spaces on any plans currently.

Also, very hard to compare Gateway to anything in the past or future. They are banking on turning around the entire area... aka they are building enough retail to "fix" the demand issues where they are located. That's a much larger & longer play. It's also not farfetched to assume that Gateway will be able to charge more premium rents being directly above a potential grocer & other retail. Not to mention the scale.

None of the flashy DT parcels are large enough to replicate Gateway, maybe the Jail, nor will any of them be *that* close to retail that matters for quite some time. Related's project, if built, will demonstrate what economics are possible with a single site.

thelakelander

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The Gateway project is representative of what should have been done decades ago if we had a vision strategy built around clustering complimenting uses within a compact setting. Every block is an individual component, they just happen to add up to a cohesive urban environment. The cohesive urban environment is what is needed to tip the scale. It makes the market better for individual projects throughout LaVilla, the Northbank core and State & Union. It actually works hand-in-hand with the Trio by serving as anchors of activity within a stone's throw of JWJ Park. If I were the DIA, I'd try to strategically flood the walkable blocks and public spaces in between them with additional public realm investment ASAP. Build a compact core with life, within five years, which in turn, enhances numbers for everyone.

On the other hand, heavily subsidized random unconnected projects, will still struggle to stimulate the synergy that downtown has lacked. If I were the DIA, I'd also look real close at how to change the Southbank atmosphere from that of a suburban Houston office park. Doing so, will help that isolated Related project and stimulate more pedestrian scale adjacent development in the long-term as well. Without a more holistic approach, my fear is that all the Related project does is prove that we can build a luxury high rise if the taxpayer pays for it.
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Ken_FSU

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Agree with everyone above.

Of these three projects, I'd put the Trio and Gateway Jax as 1a and 1b, with the Related project coming in at a very, very, very, very distant n.

I'd probably go as far as to say that - with so many other projects needing public dollars - $40 million in cash incentives for luxury residential on the Southbank that isn't going to move the needle in downtown vibrancy in any significant way would be a hard pass for me. Especially when you throw in the right of first refusal for MOSH, and general uncertainty about the museum's move and timeline.

Those dollars could just work so much harder if complimenting some of the other projects that are going on over on the Northbank.

In my humble opinion, James Weldon Johnson Park is key to this whole thing, and the connective glue that could tie a lot of this investment together with projects like Gateway Jax and the Trio.

Downtown will not succeed without a plan to transform this space - which is currently as bad as I have ever seen it - into an active, vibrant, programmed, 365-day a year space that people other than vagrants are drawn too.

The city should be genuinely embarrassed about what its key public space has turned into. People shitting on the sidewalks. Vagrants laying on the sidewalks and screaming obscenities at everyone who walks by. People openly doing drugs in the park after security leaves for the day. It's a disgusting, hostile environment.

Any discussion about the Trio, and Gateway Jax, and "fixing" the CBD has to include plans to "fix" and activate that key, central, connective space. Put the $40 million into a true active redesign of JWJP with a healthy programming budget, incentivizing a bar/restaurant for Snyder Memorial, bringing the Main Library's retail bays back to life and opening to the streets, fixing that decrepit Magnificat/Chamblins Apartment/rotting billboard situation, etc.

Can't have a healthy downtown if it's this rotten in its core.

thelakelander

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Definitely agree. I'd argue that in terms of public space improvements that need to be prioritized, JWJ Park should be just as high a priority as Riverfront Plaza.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

jcjohnpaint

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Also feel like the riverfront will take care of itself without incentives if the core around the park was vibrant.

Jax_Developer

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I hear ya Lake. I do think that we have to respect the immense effort Gateway went through to obtain a uniform title in such a close cluster. It just won’t happen again. Same goes for Trevato in Brooklyn. These are once in a lifetime opportunities for these neighborhoods. The economics & reasoning for it really should not be used for comparisons to other projects…

The question should be, are the incentives we are dealing now going to change the landscape in a few years? Because… well we actually can’t build the Trio or Gateway or anything without incentives. I haven’t seen any discussion around this actually and that’s the most concerning aspect of the DT incentives in my opinion.

The Related tower is a great case study. A single use, single site, apartment tower… which has been teased for many other city-owned parcels for quite some time & is what the DIA wants (per Boyer).