Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Historic Development

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Historic Development

Article excerpt

Upscale downtown housing.

For years, using those three words together would have drawn guffaws and snide comments about it never happening in Jacksonville.

But a few lonely visionaries held out hope, and yesterday the dreams of those few forward thinkers crept one step closer to reality.

An Atlanta developer and city leaders broke ground yesterday on a $72.8 million luxury residential-retail complex that will be built on the Northbank of the St. Johns River on East Bay Street, just east of the Duval County Courthouse.

"This is a true example of a dream come true," said Councilwoman at large Elaine Brown, a longtime proponent of downtown housing during her years on the Downtown Development Authority. "This is a landmark and a standard that others will certainly try to reach."

Construction on the first phase of Berkman Plaza -- as the development is to be called -- is slated to begin in March, said Alan Travis, president of the Harbor Contracting Co. Inc. of Atlanta. Phase one will include a 206-unit, 22-story building, a private pool, 24-hour secured private parking and rooftop tennis courts.

Also included in phase one are 26 townhomes. Apartments will command $800 monthly rent for a one-bedroom unit to $1,900 per month for a three-bedroom unit. Townhomes will sell for about $200,000.

Travis said that the company already has taken deposits on 12 apartments and half of the townhomes, just on the buzz that the project has generated. He expects the first tenants will be able to move in by December, and the first phase should be completed by the latter part of 2001.

Construction on the second phase -- a 23-story, 200-apartment building -- would commence upon the completion of first part of the project, Travis said.

On the retail side, the project is slated to include a still as-yet unnamed restaurant run by Matthew and David Medure, the co-owners of the Matthew's at San Marco restaurant. …

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