Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Port OKs Land Buy in Mayport; GOAL Build a New Cruise Ship Terminal to Attract More Lines Operating Bigger Vessels

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Port OKs Land Buy in Mayport; GOAL Build a New Cruise Ship Terminal to Attract More Lines Operating Bigger Vessels

Article excerpt

Byline: TIMOTHY J. GIBBONS

The Jacksonville Port Authority agreed Monday to purchase about 4 acres of land in Mayport that will allow it to move forward with building a cruise terminal in the village.

The port still needs to buy a 3.3-acre slice of waterfront land in order to put its plans into effect but said Monday it was negotiating with the owners.

The purchased property -- 2.09 acres owned by the Roland family and 2.29 acres owned by Vestcor Cos. -- sits along the river between the St. Johns River Ferry dock and the Coast Guard station. The Port Authority paid just over $9 million for the land.

The plot being negotiated for, owned by Safe Harbor Seafood, would actually house the terminal as well as a parking garage. Part of the Roland property would serve as a baggage-handling and entrance area.

The entire terminal would take up less than 8 acres, far smaller than the 40 acres the current terminal now occupies. Instead, the port would go vertical, building a two-story terminal and a five-story parking garage in the area near the curve of Ocean Street.

The rest of the land voted on Monday would serve as a berth for shrimping boats and a space to relocate Safe Harbor.

The Mayport site is the only place left for the port to move the cruise terminal, which now sits near the Dames Point bridge, to, said David Kaufman, the port's senior director of planning and properties.

"We have to preserve our options," he told the board during a brief meeting that followed a daylong workshop concerning the port's future.

The time frame of that future is still somewhat unclear. The authority is in the midst of negotiating with Hanjin Shipping, a containership line looking to set up shop in Jacksonville. One location the Korean company could use is the present site of the cruise terminal, which port officials have always said was a temporary use for the land.

"If Hanjin said, 'yes, we want that land,' we'd want to move immediately," said Tony Orsini, who's in charge of cruise operations for the port.

The new site would also be a draw for cruise lines, few of which have ships short enough to fit under the Dames Point bridge. …

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