Jacksonville council narrowly denies Southbank storage facility after hours-long debate

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — In a nine to nine vote, Jacksonville City Council narrowly denied a proposal to develop a storage facility on the Southbank.


The vote came after an hours-long debate between council members and public comment from concerned neighbors and testimony from the developer.

Tuesday night’s vote was the culmination of a years-long fight from neighbors to stop the storage facility from moving onto the Southbank.

Jacksonville City Council voted on an amended version of the bill earlier in June after the developer met with neighborhood organizations opposed to the re-zoning.

Lauren Carlucci, with the San Marco Preservation Society, said neighbors argued for a 50/50 split of self-storage and residential units. The developer returned with an amended version to include reserving just the top floor with at least 20 apartment units and a rooftop restaurant and bar open to the public. The first floor would also be devoted to retail and office space. The development is five floors in total.

“That’s just simply not acceptable. It’s not going to move the bar enough. Because clearly, this is still very much a self-storage facility,” Carlucci told Action News Jax’s Robert Grant.

Carlucci explained storage units are dead space and don’t activate downtown the same way residential units do.

“We have about four blocks on the Southbank to create a vibrant downtown. So, every inch of that space matters,” she said. Carlucci was concerned approving this application would set what she called an unwanted precedent. “If this gets approved, you will absolutely see more applications like this.”

The Southbank is part of the downtown overlay, which doesn’t currently allow storage facilities. That’s one reason the Downtown Investment Authority recommended the denial of the application.

READ: Fight against downtown storage facilities returns, neighbors voice concern at town hall

According to the application for rezoning, “[The 2030 Comprehensive Plan] does not prohibit mixed-use developments that include integrated self-storage.”

It goes on to say, “This prohibition was established before more than 5,000 multi-family units were proposed [in the area].”

Action News Jax found at least three new complexes within a one-mile radius of the proposed site that includes more than 800 units. There are already at least three other existing self-storage facilities within one mile of the proposed site.

“There’s a reason we have zoning, there’s a reason self-storage is allowed a half mile away on other roads that are more industrial, and it’s not allowed here,” Carlucci said.

Jones Loh, the owner of BB’s Restaurant and Bar across the street from the site, said he’d been a restauranteur in the area for 17 years.

“It is definitely going in the positive direction, and we do not want to take a step back. We want to take a step forward,” he said.

Action News Jax will have continuing coverage on FOX 30 at 10:00 p.m.

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