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Developer has sky-high plans for Shipyards

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Updated: 12/13/2013 11:37 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Downtown Jacksonville could soon be home to Florida's tallest building -- a 1,000-foot tower -- if one local developer's vision comes to life.

Mark Farrell, owner of Killashee Investments, wants to transform the old shipyard on East Bay Street into Jacksonville's premier tourist destination.

"We've talked about downtown long enough. We're a big city, we need to act like a big city," said Farrell.

The sky-high tower would include two levels of dining and an observation deck. It would be the focal point of a complex that includes hotels, retail shops and even an aquarium.

But first, Farrell has to convince the Police and Fire Pension Fund to buy the 30-acre property from the city and partner up with his company.

"Once they buy the land, they really have provided seed money for the overall development of the land," said Farrell.

Randy Wyse, president of the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters, said it's a great idea, but instead of buying the land Wyse suggests the city should transfer the property over to the pension fund.

"If they transfer the property and say it's worth $1 million, then the pension fund gives the city a credit of $1 million toward the unfunded [liability]. It's almost like cash," said Wyse.

According to Wyse, the pension fund has proposed this idea to the city for years.

Farrell pitched the idea to the pension fund's board Friday. So far members have not committed, but he said the feedback has been positive.

According to Farrell, if the project succeeds it would bring in something Jacksonville lacks: consistent tourism dollars.

"The state of Florida gets about $72 billion of economic impact from tourism. Jacksonville represents more than 7 percent of the state population, 7 percent of $70 billion is $5 billion -- $5 billion of economic impact that we're not getting," said Farrell.

Farrell said he'll go back before the pension board next year to present more details on the project.

Mayor Brown's statement on Shipyards development

"To follow up my discussion with your staff, here is our position:

While we appreciate ideas to improve the city, this proposal needs to be carefully and thoroughly reviewed by the Downtown Investment Authority before any decision is made. The Shipyards property is part of the administration’s ongoing work to assess and develop a strategy for certain city properties to optimize their value and use for our taxpayers and citizens. Mayor Brown’s first priority now is enhancing The Jacksonville Landing."

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Old Dog - 12/14/2013 5:24 PM
0 Votes
I think this is a great idea, hope our city leaders are smart enough to jump on this offer as that land has been wasting away far too long. It is time to find someone who is willing to invest in the future of this city; I just hope the project has been well thought out, something our city leaders are often unable to do. Just look at the stupid wasteful plan to pay for the unneeded, oversized bill boards for Ever Bank Field, while always talking about increasing our property taxes and city fees. Fact is the people of this community are paying way too much in taxes and fees and we need help even if it means reduced services. I even am starting to believe that the end game in Florida and across the country is to make home ownership too expensive for the average family, meaning that in the not so distant future most of us will all be at the mercy of the wealthy land barons of the future. Simple truth is that is time for this city and state to bring in some real revenues, especially from the vacant commercial and city owned properties and not just by robbing the middle class homeowner's who make up the bulk of this state’s population.

hillcarrie - 12/14/2013 2:31 PM
0 Votes
my girlfriends brother just got a six-month old Lexus CT 200h Hatchback by working parttime from a home computer... navigate to this site....
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