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Off the waterfront: A plan for downtown Jacksonville

While much of the redevelopment effort for downtown Jacksonville focuses on the riverfront, Steve Atkins is looking a few blocks inland.

“We haven’t had anything done from a re- tail standpoint in the core of downtown,” says Atkins. “That’s been a challenge, to make an impactful change in the core.”

Atkins’ company, Southeast Development, is partnering with the Molasky Group to renovate three buildings more than a century old known as the Laura Street Trio, plus a 91-year-old, 18-story building that was once the home of Barnett Bank.

The city council approved $9.8 million in incentives for the $78-million project, which includes office space and apartments in the Barnett building. The other three buildings will be redeveloped into a hotel, restaurants and offices.

The city is giving the developers five years to complete the project, but Atkins says it will be finished well before that. Work is beginning on the Barnett building, which is expected to take 14 to 16 months, and the 22-month project to renovate the Trio buildings will begin once the Barnett project is halfway done, he says.

Several companies have attempted to develop the properties since the turn of the century. Aundra Wallace, CEO of the Downtown Investment Authority, is optimistic about this plan because the incentive package is backloaded, to be paid off if the project is completed on time.

“They’ve got to perform in order to get the incentives,” he says.

Wallace says he’s looking forward to the results. “It removes four blighted structures within the heart of the urban core and brings them into productive use.”

Players

» Anthony Hucker became president and CEO of Southeastern Grocers, the Jacksonville-based parent of the Winn- Dixie, Bi-Lo, Harveys and Fresco y Mas supermarket chains. Hucker had been Interim CEO since lan Mclead resigned from the position.

» JaxPort named Eric Green CEO. He had been interim CEO.

» Stella Johnson became CEO of Hope Haven, a 91-year-old Jacksonville non-profit that provides specialized services for children and their families. Johnson was previously executive director of another Jacksonville non-profit, the Family Nurturing Center.

» Jorge Gutierrez became president and CEO of the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce. Gutierrez had been regional vice president of operations for Concorde Career Colleges.

 

Business Briefs

ALACHUA — RTI Surgical sold its cardiothoracic closure business to A&E Advanced Closure Systems for $54 million. RTI will continue manufacturing products for A&E under a multiyear contract.

CHIEFLAND — The College of Central Florida opened its Levy campus, which it says is the first permanent facility for higher education in Levy County.

GAINESVILLE — The city commission approved Gainesville Regional Utilities’ $750-million purchase of the Gainesville Renewable Energy Center. The city utility says it will save money on the deal because it ends a more costly 30-year contract to buy power from GREC.

JACKSONVILLE — The last remaining independent bank serving only the Jacksonville market, FirstAtlantic Bank, agreed to a $108-million buyout by National Commerce. The Alabama-based banking company will continue to operate FirstAtlantic’s eight branches under the FirstAtlantic name after the deal closes. New Media Investment Group is buying the Florida Times- Union, the St. Augustine Record and other newspapers owned by Morris Publishing for $120 million. The Times-Union, with daily circulation of 44,750, is the largest newspaper owned by Augusta, Ga.-based Morris. New Media, through its Gatehouse Media unit, operates 125 daily newspapers. CSX cut 2,150 jobs in the eastern U.S. in the first seven months of this year, according to reports filed with federal regulators, reducing its total employment to 22,313. New CEO Hunter Harrison is streamlining operations, but some of the cuts came before Harrison joined the railroad company in March. Loop’s Nursery & Greenhouses received approval from the Department of Health for a medical marijuana treatment center license. Loop’s became Florida’s 12th marijuana treatment center. ParkerVision began selling a consumer product called Milo, which it says enhances in-home wifiperformance. The company has been developing wireless technology but has not had a product on the market for years, making more headlines suing major mobile device makers for alleged patent infringement.

Uber reached an agreement with the Jacksonville Aviation Authority on fees for pickups at the airport. Ride-share companies like Uber will pay the same fees that taxi companies pay the authority for the right to pick up passengers. The JAX LNG partnership received U.S. Coast Guard approval to operate a waterfront facility and conduct ship-to-ship loading of liquified natural gas. Operations are scheduled to begin in early 2018. JASPER — Duke Energy says it will begin building a 550-acre solar power plant in early 2018. Duke is ending all plans for a nuclear plant in Levy County.

PONTE VEDRA BEACH — The PGA Tour is moving The Players Championship golf tournament back to March starting in 2019. The tournament, which draws more than 150,000 fans annually, is one of the largest events in northeast Florida. It moved from March to May in 2007.

YULEE — Rayonier moved into its new headquarters building in Wildlight, the company’s mixed-use development project. Rayonier consolidated three offices into the building, including its former headquarters in downtown Jacksonville