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Jacksonville is waiting for its ship to come in

Will a new proposal emerge to develop the former shipyards property on Jacksonville’s moribund riverfront?

The Jacksonville Jaguars organization calls the former shipyards property the “front door” to EverBank Field and envisions the city-owned site, which runs between downtown and the city’s sports complex, as an upscale housing, retail and entertainment area, even an NFL theme park.

Mayor Alvin Brown also says he wants to see development that will bring people downtown.

So far, however, those shared interests haven’t generated any concrete proposals to move dirt.

“We are interested in seeing the shipyards developed,” says Jaguars President Mark Lamping, “sooner than later.”

“There’s no specific time frame until any developer submits a request and we know its specific details,” mayoral spokeswoman Kristen Sell wrote in an email.

Questions remain as to who would actually develop the property and how it would be financed. Jaguars owner Shahid Khan has told city officials he would be willing to develop the area if no one else comes forward.

Brown believes in publicprivate partnerships and thinks Khan has the power to get things done. “Khan is a visionary leader,” says Brown, who is seeking a second term and has already received $100,000 in campaign contributions from the billionaire.

The city council, which has been less than friendly to many of Brown’s proposals, and the Downtown Investment Authority must approve any plan. A company that tried to develop the property a decade ago went bankrupt in 2010.

Redevelopment is key for the Jaguars’ plans to grow fan interest, Lamping says.

“The shipyards do not need another stop and start. It has to be completed,” Lamping says.

Jaguars owner Shahid Khan says he is willing to develop the shipyards area if no one else comes forward.

Players

> Fred Pensotti has been named CFO of Interline Brands. Interline has 59 distribution centers and stocks more than 30,000 products under 11 brand labels, including Hardware Express, Maintenance USA and U.S. Lock. About half of its sales are plumbing products. He replaces John K. Bakewell. Pensotti most recently was senior vice president and corporate controller at Sabre.

> Owen Roberts, of Lauderdale Lakes, has been named new superintendent of Alachua County Public Schools, the first African-American to hold the position. Roberts had been assistant superintendent of curriculum in St. Lucie County.

> Leah Jennings has been named director of business expansion and workforce development at the Nassau County Economic Development Board. She previously served on the organization’s board of directors.

> Mayor Alvin Brown named Jason Gabriel acting general counsel. Gabriel takes over from Cindy Laquidara, who is entering private practice. Gabriel is the lead attorney of the General Counsel’s Office Government Operations Department and serves as deputy general counsel.

Profile

Champion Brands

Earl Benton, president of Champion Brands, a beer distributor, is building northeast Florida’s first compressed natural gas station that will be open to the public. The station is scheduled to open by October. Benton is working with Chicago-based Trillium CNG on the $2-million project, which will get its natural gas from TECO Peoples Gas. The station’s first customer will likely be Champion, which plans to have its entire 40-truck fleet running on CNG within the next two years. The station will be located in the Southside Industrial Park, with access off U. S. 1 and I-295.

In the works: A CNG station accessible to the public.

Business Briefs

GAINESVILLE — Software application development company Seventh Compass is moving its main office to the 417 Building at Innovation Square from University Boulevard.

CLAY COUNTY — The parent company of St. Vincent’s Medical Center Clay County has tentatively approved a $24-million expansion plan for the new Middleburg hospital. The expansion would add a maternity ward and 37 beds to the 64-bed facility. The project would also expand the emergency room and add a threestory patient tower. > Leslie Dougher, 50, former Clay County GOP chairwoman, will lead the state Republican Party, finishing the term of Lenny Curry, who resigned to run for Jacksonville mayor. The term expires in January 2015. Dougher is a Realtor.

DUVAL COUNTY — The future of the St. Johns River Ferry looks a little brighter. The ferry, which travels between Mayport and Fort George Island across the mouth of the St. Johns River, received $1 million in the latest state budget and $3.97 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

JACKSONVILLE — Former Jacksonville Jaguars owners Wayne and Delores Weaver are donating their riverfront home to the Community Foundation of Northeast Florida. The 14,000-sq.-ft. home sits on four acres with 243 feet of riverfront. Listed at $4.7 million, the home has six bedrooms, six full baths, a boat dock and gazebo. Jacksonville-based APR Energy has completed construction of the company’s 100-megawatt natural gas plant in Myanmar. > Casework of America, a company funded by Stache, which is owned by Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, has purchased a warehouse with 144,000 square feet on almost seven acres on Jacksonville’s west side. Casework makes furniture and furnishings for offices and businesses. > Visit Jacksonville is launching a promotional campaign to leverage the city’s growing craft beer industry to bring in tourists. Details are still being formulated for the Jax Ale Trail. Visit Jacksonville is partnering with Jacksonville breweries Institution Ale Works, Bold City Brewery, Aadrwolf Brewing, Pinglehead Brewing, Engine 15, Green Room Brewing and Veterans United Craft Brewery.

ST. JOHNS COUNTY — The Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine plans to renovate the interior of the historic Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine. Over the past year, the church’s exterior was waterproofed and painted. Plans call for repairing water damage to the interior.

Single-Family Home Permits

May building permits were up 8.3% compared with the year-earlier figure. For the first five months, permits were down 1.5% from a year earlier.

The shipyards property (on the water’s edge) encompasses up to 80 acres, depending on which tracts are included.