Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

It's Time to Fix the Landing Situation

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

It's Time to Fix the Landing Situation

Article excerpt

Byline: Karen Brune Mathis

Redevelopment of The Jacksonville Landing should be a New Year's resolution for all involved, but that's the problem. More people are involving themselves just about every day.

Not being an expert on the Landing's situation, I won't advise a specific solution. Instead, I will plead that somebody in charge -- namely Mayor John Peyton and City Council -- pick a direction and take it. Resolve the Landing situation by spring, start the redevelopment by summer and celebrate concrete progress by yearend.

The Landing has languished on prime downtown Northbank riverfront property for 20 years. It never realized its potential as a retail marketplace for many reasons, among them inadequate parking.

There's not enough time, space or patience to rehash everything, but as of today, at least five factions are involved, or trying to become involved, in dictating the Landing's redevelopment.

First, there's the faction, including some council members, that doesn't want the city to sell the land under and around the Landing to developer Toney Sleiman, who bought the building three years ago from the Rouse Co. Sleiman inherited Rouse's 70-year lease on the public land. The lease allows the city to keep the property for future use and ensure public access to the riverfront.

Second, there's the faction that wants to sell the land to Sleiman, a Jacksonville native and retail strip center developer who bought the Landing for $5 million. Sleiman and the city discussed a land sale because, since the Landing opened in 1987, the city was supposed to provide adequate parking but hasn't. As a result, the Landing has not been paying rent to the city.

Sleiman and the city proposed to swap the land for the parking requirement. If that happened, Sleiman would redevelop and expand the Landing, cut a wide entrance at Laura Street to open up a riverfront view and access and put up a parking garage on a portion of Hogan Street that would be closed. …

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