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Construction of new park on hold during dispute

Construction of new Unity Plaza park on hold  (Robert Jackson)
Construction of new Unity Plaza park on hold (Robert Jackson)
Reported by: Sam King
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Updated: 12/06/2013 10:20 pm

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A dispute over millions of dollars is holding up the construction of a new park and amphitheater. Unity Plaza is supposed to be a part of the 220 Riverside development. 

As part of a proposed revision of the original agreement, the city is supposed to provide close to $3 million to pay for improvements related to the park. But some officials are balking, saying that the developer, Hallmark Properties, has not proven it has invested the $30 million into the overall project as required in the agreement.

“We think it’s self-evident that we’re building this project,” said Alex Coley, principal with Hallmark Partners.

But city officials said the group has not provided the proper financial documents proving it has spent $30 million, only that it has borrowed $30 million. Coley said he is frustrated by the slow process. Council President Bill Gulliford said he too was concerned about the dispute.

“If it indeed started in May and it’s now December, is it necessary that it take that long to determine it?” he asked. “I think normally we can sit down and resolve this after a couple of meetings.  And those meetings don't need to stretcg over a span of five months. We can get it resolved in a couple of weeks.”

Unity Plaza would include a 2,200-seat amphitheater along with spaces for vendors. Local businesses hope the plaza construction can move forward soon.

“I'm hoping that I get some night business,” said John Varamogiannis, who owns Johnny’s Deli and Grille. “That's why I rented this space from the beginning, because I thought it was going to turn into a seven-day location, but it's a five-day location.”

Hallmark Partners plans to make its case to City Council members on Monday and Tuesday. The full council will have decide whether to approve the agreement.

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1country - 12/7/2013 3:49 PM
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The city keeps saying they need to raise taxes for crap projects and yet keeps right on spending!!
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