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Developers unveil new plans for the Jacksonville Landing

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Updated: 1/16 9:31 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's Wednesday night at the Jacksonville Landing, and store owner Kelley Pickens hasn't seen many customers.

"People always think The Pink Cupcake is new here, but we've been here for two years. It's a great place, but it isn't what it used to be. I think The Landing needs an overhaul."

Change might be coming soon.

Developers pitched their latest renovation plans to the Downtown Investment Authority Wednesday evening, which was designed based on comments from the public and DIA board in December.

The revised plan includes a new, mixed-use structure with shops, restaurants, a high-rise hotel, workforce housing and a multi-story parking garage. The venue would center around the St. Johns River, with Laura Street leading right to the water and an entertainment center surrounded by art projects.

"I thinks it's going to happen," Mayor Alvin Brown said following the presentation. "Not could happen. Will happen."

But even Brown isn't sure how much the project could cost taxpayers. Developer Toney Sleiman says the cost and timeline of the project will depend on demand from potential tenants.

"We don't know anything yet. We've got to do the studies and figure that out," said Sleiman.

Sleiman was unsuccessful in his attempt to renovate the property, which sits on still city-owned land, when he first took over 10 years ago. He now believes the time is right.

"Everybody wants a change. Downtown is old and it needs to be redone and it needs something new. I want people to start saying, 'I wish we could be like Jacksonville,' but to do that it will take dedication from all sides."

Brown says the project has his support.

"The Landing was built in 1987, and has never lived up to it's potential. We can do this effective, efficient, fast, and if we do it right, the businesses and people will come. The one thing I believe in is that the private sector is the engine driving this process to make sure the taxpayers get a return on their investment."

Councilman Don Redman believes the project is moving in the right direction, even if all taxpayers aren't yet committed.

"I think it will be a hard sell for a lot of the taxpayers. Some of them come downtown, and some of them don't, but without the city's involvement I don't think the project can happen."

Pickens said she's in full support of the project, but does worry about the impact to her small business.

"How long will it be down and where will we go in the meantime? Maybe they don't have the answers yet, but that's a big concern for so many of us."

Sleiman told Action News the average lease with current tenants of The Landing is approximately five to seven years. If the project does move forward, he says he will help with relocation during the renovation."

As for a timeline, he says it's too early to estimate.

"I don't know," Sleiman said. "It's hard to say on something like this. This is big and it is a big change and it's just going to take time."
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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Action News Jacksonville

Christine - 1/17/2014 12:32 AM
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I don't understand how more hotels, more residential units will make downtown Jacksonville a "world class" site! We have hotels, and residential living should not be in The Landing. The reason why people don't live downtown is there are no vital shops there. There are no major drug, food or essential stores or movies and entertainment . If you want "world class" give the people something to come to. Focus on the river, marinas, restaurants, paddleboats, an aquarium movies and more entertainment, green space, walking trails, bike paths. Take a good look at some major cities and see what gets people to their downtowns. Theater districts, shopping centers, unique attractions. This city is beautiful, and it can be a great city to visit if we do it right.
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