Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Peterbrooke Next Up for Library Site; the Atkins Group's Decision Means Process Moves into Next Phase

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Peterbrooke Next Up for Library Site; the Atkins Group's Decision Means Process Moves into Next Phase

Article excerpt

Byline: JOE LIGHT

Officials from The Atkins Group say they provided city officials with written notice to terminate negotiations to redevelop the Haydon Burns Library site in an e-mail on Tuesday, officially ending four months of unsuccessful discussion.

The written notice would also begin the process by which the city will seek negotiations with the next bidder -- Peterbrooke Chocolatier.

Officials from the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission declined comment Tuesday through a spokeswoman.

According to Peterbrooke President Peter Behringer, if city officials require Peterbrooke to strictly adhere to the same proposal set down in its bid in July, the company will be much less likely to pursue the property.

In July, Peterbrooke officials proposed to purchase the Haydon Burns Library for $1.5 million and renovate it to include a chocolate factory, retail store, chocolate museum, and candy-related educational component.

That proposal ultimately lost to Atkins' $5 million bid, which entailed a $40 million mixed-use facility with condominiums, 14,500 square feet of retail space, and 8,500 square feet of dining, theater, and entertainment venues. Negotiations between the city and The Atkins Group broke down over the Thanksgiving holiday after four months of talks. Atkins officials verbally announced their intent to terminate discussion on Monday.

Now, Peterbrooke officials no longer need the expanded manufacturing capacity set forth in their original proposal, Behringer said.

"Six months ago, everything was ready to go," Behringer said. "Today, that natural progression of business has changed things."

Mayor's Office spokeswoman Susie Wiles said that as long as Peterbrooke officials remain consistent with the original intent of the proposal, it would be possible to make modifications during negotiations. …

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