Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Is the Landing Proposal Process Fair? City Committee to Score 2 Bids Submitted; Time Allowed Each Is at Issue

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Is the Landing Proposal Process Fair? City Committee to Score 2 Bids Submitted; Time Allowed Each Is at Issue

Article excerpt

Byline: JOE LIGHT

Who will redevelop the Jacksonville Landing? Two weeks ago, before the Dec. 21 deadline for bids to purchase the property underneath the open-air mall, the answer to that question seemed clear -- the current tenant, Toney Sleiman and his company Jacksonville Landing Investments LLC, holds a lease that won't expire for 50 years and was expected to be the only respondent to the request for proposals.

But now that a competitor has emerged, some city officials are asking a new question: Can the evaluation be fair?

Within the month, a city committee will score the two bids submitted for the Landing property based on predetermined criteria, such as purchase price and developer experience, said Devin Reed, the city's director of procurement. The committee will then make a recommendation to the Mayor's Office to award the land to one of the competitors.

Although the request for proposals gave a 30-day time frame for responses, Sleiman and his company had been in negotiations with city officials for the redevelopment for nearly two years. JLI officials also own the structures on top of the land and hold a lease for the property that will not expire for more than 50 years.

On the other hand, other potential bidders for the property had 30 days to compose a proposal, a time frame that Council member Art Graham said was not long enough.

"I've said from the beginning that the process is flawed," he said. "Regardless of how this comes out, I'm not sure if it's something that I could support."

One bidder, a partnership between Blackwater Capital LLC and Value Acquisition Fund LLC, submitted a response by the deadline. At least two other would-be bidders have sent letters to the Mayor's Office expressing their dismay at the lack of time to respond.

Although the Mayor's Office has already negotiated a redevelopment agreement with JLI, Peyton has advised committee members to disregard the history behind JLI's bid, said Mayor's Office spokeswoman Susie Wiles. …

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