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Jax Council Passes Major Economic Incentive Packages for Downtown, Industrial Development

Jax Council Passes Major Economic Incentive Packages for Downtown, Industrial Development

Jacksonville Business Journal - October 24, 2018 - by Allison Colburn - full article here

Council passes major economic incentive packages for downtown, industrial development

Four major economic development projects passed final legislative hurdles at Tuesday's City Council meeting.

Two of those - Project Glass and Project Empire - could be the deciding factor in whether two companies decide to open distribution centers in west Jacksonville. The other two - the Jones Brothers Furniture Building and an eight-story apartment complex planned on the Southbank - could bring dozens of new residents downtown.

All four projects passed unanimously, with the exception of incentives for the downtown projects, which did not receive the approval of Council Member Garrett Dennis.

Here's the run-down on what these projects entail:

Project Glass

In legislation, the company behind this project is described as a home improvement goods manufacturer looking to open a location in the Southeast where it can manufacture and distribute products.

The company does not yet have a manufacturing facility on the East Coast and is considering leasing 70,000 square feet in a northwest Jacksonville facility.

Through the Qualified Targeted Industry Tax Refund program, the company received a city and state-funded incentives package that would give the company $5,000 per each job it creates, up to $675,000, over an eight-year period beginning in 2020. The city is on the hook for 20 percent of the incentives package, meaning it could pay up to $135,000.

The company plans to add 135 jobs at an average annual wage of $46,472.

On a related note, Project Glass matches the description of a permit application that is under city review for San Francisco-based window-maker Bonelli Enterprises. Tenant Contractors Inc. seeks to build-out a 72,102-square-foot space in Westside Industrial Park at 8291 Forshee Drive.

Project Empire

The company behind Project Empire is described as a national distributor of household goods. It is deciding whether to open a warehouse and distribution facility in Jacksonville, Georgia or South Carolina.

If the company selects Jacksonville, it will build a 1 million-square-foot facility on a roughly 80-acre parcel at Cecil Commerce Center.

The company received a Recaptured Enhanced Value grant at 50 percent of the net increase in property taxes over a ten-year period. The value of the grant is estimated at $3.3 million.

In exchange, the company has promised to invest $40 million into the site by Dec. 31, 2020. The facility's total development costs are estimated to be $72 million.

The company plans to add up to 250 full-time jobs at an average annual wage of $33,000 by Dec. 31, 2021.

If the company chooses to open the Jacksonville facility, Cecil Commerce developer Hillwood would purchase the site from the city at an estimated cost of $757,569. Hillwood has the right to prepare the site for development prior to purchasing it, per the city and Hillwood's development agreement.

Hillwood is currently in the process of preparing two sites that could house a facility that is 1 million square feet or more in size. One of those will serve as a distribution center for the furniture giant Wayfair.

Southbank Apartments

Ventures Development Group's eight-story apartment building planned on the Southbank next to Baptist Health has been years in the making.

It initially went through the DIA in 2016 and 2017 as a 300-unit high-rise. A lawsuit was filed on behalf of neighboring property owners to prevent the development from moving forward. Those parties have since reached a settlement agreement. 

Ventures Development Group has reduced the number of units it plans to build to 185. The building will reach a height of 85 feet rather than the 150-foot tower Ventures aimed to build at first. The building's parking garage will include 211 spaces.

City Council on Tuesday gave the go-ahead on an access easement and for a Rev grant that was approved by the Downtown Investment Authority in September. That incentives package includes a tax rebate of up to $7.8 million over 20 years for the developer to invest $44.8 million in the property.

Jones Brothers Furniture

Developer Ace Jax LLC plans to restore two buildings at the southwest corner of Church Street and Hogan Streets into a mixed residential, office and commercial space.

The incentives package approved by City Council provides a $1.5 million grant and $750,000 loan to help restore the buildings.

Plans for the Jones Brothers building include 1,105 square feet of space for a restaurant or coffee shop, 918 square feet for office space and 28 apartments, most of which will be one-bedroom units. The developer also included an optional rooftop amenity space.

The old Western Union building next door would be renovated to support 9,600 square feet of retail space.

Total redevelopment costs are projected to be $11,135,000.



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The Clay Florida Economic Development Corporation provides concierge service for companies who want to re-invest in expansion in the county or relocate their companies to the region.

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