Author Topic: Three high-impact downtown developments could require $244 million in incentives  (Read 10186 times)

thelakelander

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I think I'm trying to say that the benefit is the stimulation of an urban environment where you don't need large taxpayer subsidized projects like Related to be a case study.

Although, I'm not crazy about it or giving them a first right of refusal to the MOSH site , we'll always be able to subsidize a Related-like high rise. The point would not be for Gateway to happen again. It would be that the project goes a long way to creating a vibrant urban environment where other infill development projects can happen in the Northbank without Related, Trio and Gateway-like subsidies. It means other projects like the Ambassador, Jones Brothers and those that have not been announced yet, become more viable beacuse there's life an activity on the adjacent blocks. The ability to change the Northbank landscape is why I'd rate it much higher in importance than a single tower that most of its occupants will eventually end up having to drive across the river or into San Marco to enjoy a walkable, mixed use neighborhood. I know what Related gets us. We've seen it with the Peninsula, Strand and other Southbank residential projects. But we've been waiting 50 years for significant Northbank investment, that promises to pump up the area of the CBD that is the city's traditional downtown core.

I believe, it's more important to have a lively downtown than it is to have a tower. I also believe the failed high rise projects were never really feasible and always knew they'd go belly up, despite the flashy renderings and press releases. We're simply not ready for them. However, if we can focus on the urban redevelopment basics and get them right, the market will respond appropriately.

Anyway, hopefully all three projects will be a success.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2024, 08:00:43 AM by thelakelander »
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Jax_Developer

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I should clarify that I'm simply speaking from an angle where our most prominent real estate has been essentially pre-determined due to the obvious processes around purchasing city owned assets downtown. I do agree with what you are saying Lake. Gateway will be a big shot of adrenaline to the Northbank. That shot will also take years to unfold. Gateway's vision is much grander. It will certainly boost the surrounding area, but the trickle to the Riverfront will take quite some time. Related is a much more simplistic project that can be "replicated" on future DT sites if they can pull of the rents they want... & that ties into my next point.

The major issue with urban housing is - it is expensive! Most of our highest paying jobs (for renters) are not DT, coupled with the competition DT faces with the beaches for people who want the lifestyle & commute. Why would someone choose to pay more to live further from work, and further from our natural assets? This basic idea applies to any DT development. We saw the effects of that with the Doro's lease up & now new unit mix.

In fact Gateway sort of proves my previous points about how parking prevents development downtown. The ability for them to utilize the lighthouse garage, essentially makes the economics of apartments DT much more feasible. Gateway probably has the lightest incentive package per the size of it in the last several years at least. I bet they will be able to be just as profitable as other projects, with slightly more competitive rents. The irony is the city could address this with all the parking they currently own/lease.

Ken_FSU

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The major issue with urban housing is - it is expensive! Most of our highest paying jobs (for renters) are not DT, coupled with the competition DT faces with the beaches for people who want the lifestyle & commute. Why would someone choose to pay more to live further from work, and further from our natural assets?

This is something that I've always been very curious about, but have never seen quantified.

Our office is downtown, and almost everyone commutes in from the beaches.

Younger employees tend to live in apartments near the ocean, and older employees tend to live in places like PVB.

I love our urban core, but from a residential perspective, I don't think I could break the habit of surfing before work and walking my dog on the beach in the evening.

We say the St. Johns River is our greatest natural resource, but I do wonder to what extent riverfront development in Jacksonville is handicapped by having to compete with the beaches.


jaxlongtimer

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I get the appeal of the "tropical" lifestyle of the Beaches, especially to transplants from inland or colder parts of the country, but, to me, I am fine with getting limited doses of that on vacations.  Maybe this is because I was raised here and, like Orlando theme parks, I have had enough beach visitations to last my lifetime  ;D.

Between the increasing heat of the blazing sun (like this week), rising oceans, stronger storms and the exposure to same, increasing crowding and traffic on limited highway infrastructure, higher costs of living, insurance and taxes and way more maintenance due to the effects of salt, I would take in-town and on the river or its tributaries any day.  To add, if you like substantial lush landscapes and tree canopies and the much more varied wildlife they bring, inland is the way to go  8).

The bonus in town is the opportunity to have shorter commutes and be closer to more of the cultural, entertainment, sporting, recreational, governmental and shopping venues about the City.

When the "big one" comes here one day or people can't get or afford insurance, no pun intended, the tide may turn pretty quickly.

Today, the real issue is the Beaches have their act together far better than Downtown or the urban core.  Nicely landscaped streets, building standards they enforce, vibrant "town centers" or other shopping nodes with quaint stores, lots of good dining options, etc.  As noted on our posts before, sometimes it is the little things that count, not hundred million and billion dollar projects.

thelakelander

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The major issue with urban housing is - it is expensive! Most of our highest paying jobs (for renters) are not DT, coupled with the competition DT faces with the beaches for people who want the lifestyle & commute. Why would someone choose to pay more to live further from work, and further from our natural assets?

This is something that I've always been very curious about, but have never seen quantified.

Our office is downtown, and almost everyone commutes in from the beaches.

Younger employees tend to live in apartments near the ocean, and older employees tend to live in places like PVB.

I love our urban core, but from a residential perspective, I don't think I could break the habit of surfing before work and walking my dog on the beach in the evening.

We say the St. Johns River is our greatest natural resource, but I do wonder to what extent riverfront development in Jacksonville is handicapped by having to compete with the beaches.



Now think about the population of people who aren't in our limited social networks and bubbles. People who live in Springfield, Riverside, Eastside, San Marco, Durkeeville, Murray Hill, etc. or those that would like to reside in or near downtown if there was space for them. I believe we have to view things a bit more holistically and inclusive for the future of downtown and the urban core neighborhoods. Some of these other markets are there for the taking. It's okay to build upon that base, even if it means there's no market rate luxury towers for a small segment of the population immediately going up. So for me, I don't worry about competing with the beach, SJTC or St Johns County. Like every other city that has them, those places aren't necessarily competition. Just focus on making the core a vibrant, walkable neighborhood. That element is something that will drive a market by itself in a place where everywhere else requires a car and lots of driving. There are plenty of Downtown's that are light years ahead of downtown Jax, in terms of vibrancy, managing just well without luxury high rise towers going up first.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2024, 05:59:27 PM by thelakelander »
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thelakelander

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I get the appeal of the "tropical" lifestyle of the Beaches, especially to transplants from inland or colder parts of the country, but, to me, I am fine with getting limited doses of that on vacations.  Maybe this is because I was raised here and, like Orlando theme parks, I have had enough beach visitations to last my lifetime  ;D.

I'm a Floridian that falls into this camp. I may take the beaches for granted but like Central Florida's theme parks, the beaches come a dime a dozen to this long time Floridian.

Nevertheless, I've never seen them as having a negative impact on downtown or the riverfront's development. The beaches didn't blow up the wharves and the seafood markets like Pike's Place for riverfront parking lots in the 1950s. The beaches didn't raze the Landing or implode a tower like City Hall Annex, that could have easily been converted into a hotel, affordable or market rate housing. The beaches also didn't level LaVilla in the 1990s and screw up the Brooklyn's built environment with new autocentric infill development. The beaches also aren't responsible for not being able to get long time riverfront park plans implemented.

All of these items are self inflicted wounds that limit the market and slow the revitalization process. We have to look at past mistakes and accept that we are responsible for the downtown landscape we see today. Luckily, they are all correctable.

Jax's cultural identity is also dramatically different from the beaches. So different, that the urban core and beaches actually compliment each other, which benefits the local regional economy as a whole. The diversity of Jax's landscape, neighborhood settings, social scenes, etc., is actually something that appealed to me over other areas of Florida like Orlando and Tampa.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2024, 11:06:14 PM by thelakelander »
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Tacachale

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The major issue with urban housing is - it is expensive! Most of our highest paying jobs (for renters) are not DT, coupled with the competition DT faces with the beaches for people who want the lifestyle & commute. Why would someone choose to pay more to live further from work, and further from our natural assets?

This is something that I've always been very curious about, but have never seen quantified.

Our office is downtown, and almost everyone commutes in from the beaches.

Younger employees tend to live in apartments near the ocean, and older employees tend to live in places like PVB.

I love our urban core, but from a residential perspective, I don't think I could break the habit of surfing before work and walking my dog on the beach in the evening.

We say the St. Johns River is our greatest natural resource, but I do wonder to what extent riverfront development in Jacksonville is handicapped by having to compete with the beaches.



Now think about the population of people who aren't in our limited social networks and bubbles. People who live in Springfield, Riverside, Eastside, San Marco, Durkeeville, Murray Hill, etc. or those that would like to reside in or near downtown if there was space for them. I believe we have to view things a bit more holistically and inclusive for the future of downtown and the urban core neighborhoods. Some of these other markets are there for the taking. It's okay to build upon that base, even if it means there's no market rate luxury towers for a small segment of the population immediately going up. So for me, I don't worry about competing with the beach, SJTC or St Johns County. Like every other city that has them, those places aren't necessarily competition. Just focus on making the core a vibrant, walkable neighborhood. That element is something that will drive a market by itself in a place where everywhere else requires a car and lots of driving. There are plenty of Downtown's that are light years ahead of downtown Jax, in terms of vibrancy, managing just well without luxury high rise towers going up first.

I'm from the Beach, most of my family is still there, and I doubt I'll ever live there again. I also lived in PVB for a while and there is a greater chance of me taking a job chauffeuring Jason Aldean to Hillsdale College in a Cybertruck than there is of me ever living there again. Different strokes for different folks, is what I'm saying. We'll be much better off trying to plan and develop Downtown and the Urban Core for the many folks who already have an interest in that type of environment rather than setting them up to compete with the suburbs.
Do you believe that when the blue jay or another bird sings and the body is trembling, that is a signal that people are coming or something important is about to happen?

Tacachale

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I get the appeal of the "tropical" lifestyle of the Beaches, especially to transplants from inland or colder parts of the country, but, to me, I am fine with getting limited doses of that on vacations.  Maybe this is because I was raised here and, like Orlando theme parks, I have had enough beach visitations to last my lifetime  ;D.

I'm a Floridian that falls into this camp. I may take the beaches for granted but like Central Florida's theme parks, the beaches come a dime a dozen to this long time Floridian.

Nevertheless, I've never seen them has having a negative impact on downtown or the riverfront's development. The beaches didn't blow up the wharves and the seafood markets like Pike's Place for riverfront parking lots in the 1950s. The beaches didn't raze the Landing or implode a tower like City Hall Annex, that could have easily been converted into a hotel, affordable or market rate housing. The beaches also didn't level LaVilla in the 1990s and screw up the Brooklyn's built environment with new autocentric infill development. The beaches also aren't responsible for not being able to get long time riverfront park plans implemented.

All of these items are self inflicted wounds that limit the market and slow the revitalization process. We have to look at past mistakes and accept that we are responsible for the downtown landscape we see today. Luckily, they are all correctable.

Jax's cultural identity is also dramatically different from the beaches. So different, that the urban core and beaches actually compliment each other, which benefits the local regional economy as a whole. The diversity of Jax's landscape, neighborhood settings, social scenes, etc., is actually something that appealed to me over other areas of Florida like Orlando and Tampa.

A big part of the reason Downtown has continued to struggle is that a significant portion of movers and shakers think the best way forward is to attract suburbanites. That's great for cultural attractions and special events, etc., but on a day-to-day level, it's setting the area up for perpetual failure by setting standards it can't and shouldn't ever fulfill.
Do you believe that when the blue jay or another bird sings and the body is trembling, that is a signal that people are coming or something important is about to happen?

thelakelander

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A big part of the reason Downtown has continued to struggle is that a significant portion of movers and shakers think the best way forward is to attract suburbanites.

Unfortunately, a significant portion of the movers and shakers have been suburbanites themselves historically. Its a good example of why more diversity is needed in the traditional decision-making process. I believe that we've finally reached a period in the city's history where things will improve for the better.
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Jax_Developer

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It's certainly hard to quantify Ken. I'm a transplant, and while we may not be as numerous locals, there are more than 600,000 people that have 100% moved here since 2000 out of 1.7M in the metro today. While I completely respect the previous errors of downtown in context of this situation... we have seen the demand play out as a metro. The only market that can sustain 5+ story housing is the beaches but they have of course prevented that from happening with code. This is also a 20+ year trend, in which they have less housing at the beaches now than 20 years ago.

Local opinion matters, but roughly a 1/3 of our population are some form of transplant & the desires of that segment should be considered important. The beaches will always pull from the economic vibrance of DT, and the goal should be to find complimentary uses for the riverfront. (Marinas, entertainment, places to eat.) None of that exists at the beach unless you wanna goto the same 4-5 dive bars.

Your point about who is in control Lake, is the crux of our development patterns. Another 10,000 acres of housing near the beaches will continue to economically drain other parts of town.

thelakelander

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I don't believe suburban growth is economically draining downtown Jax anymore than it is doing such in downtown Orlando, Lakeland, Tampa, St. Pete, etc. (all of which are booming, despite more significant suburban development than NE Florida). There's enough room for all demographic areas to share in economic prosperity. However, what clearly has limited the downtown market is the political and civic leadership decision-making over the decades. If we can get that right, we'll be fine. I believe we've reached that point but it will take some time for it to play out from a market perspective. That's a step we can't skip. Its also a reason to use incentives to push a few of these projects to completion.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2024, 08:33:51 AM by thelakelander »
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Des

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Maybe the city should commission a study to help make a decision. /s

Jax_Developer

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I don't believe suburban growth is economically draining downtown Jax anymore than it is doing such in downtown Orlando, Lakeland, Tampa, St. Pete, etc. (all of which are booming, despite more significant suburban development than NE Florida). There's enough room for all demographic areas to share in economic prosperity. However, what clearly has limited the downtown market is the political and civic leadership decision-making over the decades. If we can get that right, we'll be fine. I believe we've reached that point but it will take some time for it to play out from a market perspective. That's a step we can't skip. Its also a reason to use incentives to push a few of these projects to completion.

Yes & no. Those other markets are really quite different than ours. I operate in St. Pete also. They really don't have available land, while we have a lot of it (in the wrong places mainly). I mean... we literally gave incentives for workforce housing near Cecil. The problems stems from the line we hear often "Jacksonville is the largest city by land mass in the lower 48"... well yeah that's actually a bad thing for dense housing. Our planning body covers 5-10x the geography that any other city in Florida covers. One code & one set of decision makers.

So for the past 20 years in Jacksonville, it has been pretty easy to build in areas with:

1). Better Schools
2). Modern Infrastructure
3). Better Natural Amenities
4). Lower Crime
5). More Space

St. Johns slowing down on re-zonings will increase Jacksonville's pricing in the LR. The Beaches not allowing for dense housing has caused an apartment boom near the intercostal. The desirable suburbs set the pricing threshold for DT in Jacksonville.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2024, 09:28:08 AM by Jax_Developer »

thelakelander

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Yes & no. Those other markets are really quite different than ours. I operate in St. Pete also. They really don't have available land, while we have a lot of it (in the wrong places mainly).

I grew up down there and have projects in the area as well. The burbs are places like Pasco, Hernando, Eastern Hillsborough (i.e. Brandon, Bloomingdale, Riverview, etc.), Manatee. Much larger market but the growth patterns are the same.

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I mean... we literally gave incentives for workforce housing near Cecil. The problems stems from the line we hear often "Jacksonville is the largest city by land mass in the lower 48"... well yeah that's actually a bad thing for dense housing. Our planning body covers 5-10x the geography that any other city in Florida covers.

They give incentives too. They just may come from another city or county in the region, since they aren't consolidated. Lakeland and Polk have reeled in several logistics centers that were destined for Tampa and Orlando via incentives and playing up their centralized location. I do believe that locally we get caught in the consolidation thing. Its actually a huge advantage for Jacksonville when utilized right.

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One code & one set of decision makers.

One government should be a good thing. You just need competent decision makers. If we can get there on the decision making side, I think that one code would change to something more diverse that reflects the diverse context and market nuances within the city limits.

Quote
So for the past 20 years in Jacksonville, it has been pretty easy to build in areas with:

1). Better Schools
2). Modern Infrastructure
3). Better Natural Amenities
4). Lower Crime
5). More Space

This isn't Jax specific. Its a national problem we struggle to overcome and properly address.

Quote
St. Johns slowing down on re-zonings will increase Jacksonville's pricing in the LR. The Beaches not allowing for dense housing has caused an apartment boom near the intercostal. The desirable suburbs set the pricing threshold for DT in Jacksonville.

Ultimately, land use policy and public investment play a major role in driving our growth patterns, pricing thresholds and ability to offer products to meet people at where they are at economically. I agree that these are things in local control that should be addressed. This is a big reason why I'm a fan of the CBA. Although it won't solve all of our ills, its something than can be used to help address land use policy and public investment in certain areas that have traditionally lacked the necessary resources.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2024, 10:59:46 AM by thelakelander »
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Jax_Developer

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Quote
I grew up down there and have projects in the area as well. The burbs are places like Pasco, Hernando, Eastern Hillsborough (i.e. Brandon, Bloomingdale, Riverview, etc.), Manatee. Much larger market but the growth patterns are the same.

Quote
They give incentives too. They just may come from another city or county in the region, since they aren't consolidated. Lakeland and Polk have reeled in several logistics centers that were destined for Tampa and Orlando via incentives and playing up their centralized location. I do believe that locally we get caught in the consolidation thing. Its actually a huge advantage for Jacksonville when utilized right.

Quote
One government should be a good thing. You just need competent decision makers. If we can get there on the decision making side, I think that one code would change to something more diverse that reflects the diverse context and market nuances within the city limits.

However in our situation, consolidation has not worked out well for our DT & several other parts of town. CityLife has commented on this before as well... Our planning staff, commission, etc. are all stretched to cover more than any other municipality in Florida. There's no way you can convince me that our local code/government is set up to be anywhere near as fluid as Orlando, Tampa, or St. Pete. In the time I have worked here, there have been 0 meaningful zoning changes to speak of through legislation. Meanwhile... all three cities listed above have implemented several overlays & code changes over the same time period.

Quote
This isn't Jax specific. Its a national problem we struggle to overcome and properly address.

This isn't true. While many of the Southeast cities continue mass suburbia, we are building more urban housing now than in decades. Most major urban centers have better schools, and more modern infrastructure. That's why many people choose to pay more to live in cities. Our DT lacks all the major components that drive demand to downtown or urban living. We also happen to have a river, so we also do have the bonus of a nature component.

All in all, I hate to say it, but a new fancy shiny tower, with amazing views, right on the Southbank, might end up getting a lot more attention than what it is being compared to on the Northbank. You can park in your private garage, go up the elevator to your fancy unit with a view, and never interact with the street-level shenanigans that come with downtowns, since they will goto at the Publix in San Marco. The Northbank will certainly be more impactful, but will it sell a lifestyle like Related? Probably not. Time will tell.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2024, 11:38:43 AM by Jax_Developer »