The Downtown Investment Authority will send terms of a nearly $41 million incentives deal to Jacksonville City Council for Atlanta-based Carter to build The Hardwick, a mixed-use residential high-rise on the Bay Street riverfront at the former Duval County Courthouse site.
Before approving the deal May 18, the DIA board questioned Carter executives about changes to its design for the estimated $150 million project that includes retail and restaurant spaces.
Carter Executive Vice President David Nelson showed the board a side-by-side comparison of the original and two design alternatives that have a 22-story pedestal and tower or a pedestal with two towers at 19 and at 22 stories.
The changes allow a 38-unit increase in residential units to 360 but a smaller exterior elevated plaza/green space and replacing the ground-floor courtyard with an open-air plaza.
Nelson said some of the design changes were a result of having to work around subterranean pilings that Carter did not know about when it did the initial design.
“We still need to go survey the site to confirm everything. So we expect as we go, things will continue to evolve and change a bit,” Nelson said.
“But, hopefully what you’ll see, and as we get to the end, the intent is to stay as close as we can to the RFP and have that mid-century modern design, and have an activated first floor as well as upper floors.”
Converting the proposed courtyard into an open-air plaza would make it less “cavernous,” Nelson said.
Nelson said a proposed 1,500-square-foot restaurant on the second and third floors also would have rooftop patio space.
He said it will allow retail tenants to program the space. The 100-foot setback from the St. Johns River remains the same.
Nelson told the board that Carter still is committed to the midcentury modern architecture inspired by the work of the late Jacksonville architect Taylor Hardwick. The commitment impressed the scoring committee in January.
Some board members worried that had Carter presented its latest design for The Hardwick instead of the original bid, it could have affected its overall score and ranking.
Carter scored the highest among six firms in the city’s request for proposals to redevelop the site at 330 E. Bay St.
DIA CEO Lori Boyer said the plan adheres to the RFP requirements.
Board member Stephanie Burch, who also was on the scoring committee, wants to make sure stormwater resiliency still is factored into the project. She said the changes would not have changed her mind that Carter was the best fit for the site.
The May 19 vote was 9-0.
The real estate developer has not settled on a final look, but the Carter executive showed two alternatives to the board that impact the size of the tower and pedestal.
Nelson said Carter hired real estate broker Colliers and will work with its Jacksonville Senior Director Matthew Clark to find retail tenants for the ground floor and upper-level restaurants.
The final term sheet includes a $180,000 decrease in the total incentive amount included in the draft term sheet.
In the final deal, Council will consider:
• A 75%, 20-year Recapture Enhanced Value Grant property tax refund capped at $26.77 million.
• A $9.6 million lump sum completion grant paid when the project is done.
• A $4.61 million discount on the 2.4-acre property appraised by the city at $9.54 million.
The deal maintains a April 30, 2024, deadline for groundbreaking and a completion date of Dec. 31, 2026.
But it extends the date Carter must have its construction permitting in-hand from July 31, 2023, to Sept. 30, 2023.
The developer will have 120 days to complete site due diligence and “to determine its suitability for the Project, and to investigate the quality and marketability of the title it will receive from the City.”
The previous deal gave Carter an exact date of May 31, 2023, as the latest date to terminate its redevelopment agreement.
Boyer said Carter will be required to meet city approval benchmarks to avoid default, and the city will maintain ownership of the property until the developer is prepared to break ground.
Carter would pay the city $4.93 million for the property, of which $2.5 million would be considered a donation to construct the Northbank Riverwalk near the development.
The incentives package, project timeline and benchmarks will head to the Mayor’s Budget Review Committee for final approval to file legislation with Council to approve the agreement with Carter.
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