The developers behind The District — an ambitious mega-development with a Zen-like motif planned for Jacksonville’s Southbank — inked a deal this week for a hotel with up to 200 rooms, which would make it the first riverfront hotel built in downtown since 2001.
Impact Properties, a Florida hotel builder and operator that does business with Marriott and Starwood branded hotels, has signed a sale and purchase agreement with The District team and put down a deposit. The hotel — whose brand wasn’t disclosed — is in the design phase.
The hotel “will have a very cool and edgy vibe,” said Michael Munz, a partner in The District. “It’s not a brand that is in Jacksonville at this time.”
Impact Properties will build and operate the hotel.
The District, which is the brainchild of a team that includes former Disney Co. executive Peter Rummell, plans 1,170 residential units, 285,500 square feet of commercial and retail space, 200,000 square feet of office space and a 125-slip marina — in addition to the hotel. It will also feature a riverfront public park.
Those plans would amount to about $400-$450 million in development value.
The partners moved the plans forward on parallel paths as they’ve waded through various regulatory and bureaucratic approvals.
Rummell’s team plans to close on the 28-acre site of JEA’s former Southside generating station by the end of the year, where the sprawling development will take shape. The state Department of Environmental Protection recently signed off on a clean bill of health for the site, a crucial regulatory hurdle that had to be crossed before the development team could close on the property. It’s just a matter of paperwork at this point.
The group will pay a little more than $17 million for the site. Munz said the development team has spent about $2 million so far.
He expects the groundbreaking to happen in the first quarter of 2018.
The development team has a letter-of-intent for a cinema at one of the major parcels on the property and is in negotiations for a letter-of-intent with an office tenant. Munz also said the team is involved in “very detailed discussions” for a grocery store.
The city’s downtown redevelopment agency signed off on The District’s master plan in 2016.
With DEP’s environmental green light in hand, the team can negotiate with City Hall and the Downtown Investment Authority on a development agreement, which could include economic incentives like tax credits.
Rummell has touted The District not just for its large development value but as a community that would do no less than improve mind, body and soul. The development will be built to encourage healthier living — bike paths, fitness centers and a base camp at the site’s core that will hold classes on yoga, health counseling and community gardening.
The development is finding momentum as other major sign of life are sprouting in the downtown core.
Mayor Lenny Curry is planning one of the largest surges in infrastructure spending in downtown in years. One area of focus will be on readying the former county courthouse and City Hall Annex off Bay Street for private development. Those buildings have long been discussed as a site for a new convention center — an option Curry has said is on the table.
Jaguars owner Shad Khan is in talks with downtown-improvement officials to develop The Shipyards and Metropolitan Park, which are across the river from The District. Earlier this year Khan’s firm was selected as the master developer for the sites. Those plans aren’t finalized but will almost certainly include a hotel.
The last hotel to open on downtown’s waterfront was the Adam’s Mark — now the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront — in 2001.