Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Future of Mixed-Use Southbank Project to Be Determined Soon

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Future of Mixed-Use Southbank Project to Be Determined Soon

Article excerpt

Developers are "working feverishly" to determine whether the potential $75 million St. John's Centerproject will rise from the Southbank.

Alex Coley, a principal of Hallmark Partners, is scheduled to meet with Downtown Development Authority director Paul Krutko today to continue talking about the possibilities for the significant mixed-use riverfront project.

Hallmark and Fort Lauderdale-based Stiles Corp., which have joined forces on several Jacksonville office and retail projects, are exploring plans for an office, residential, hotel, restaurant and marina development at the site.

A decision could come within 30 days. Should Hallmark and Stiles decide to develop the project, Coley expects the center could be built within two years.

Coley said the group has a contract on the 3.8-acre site, next to Riverplace Tower, and considers today's meeting with Krutko "a fact-finding mission." City and Hallmark officials had already met and intended to keep talking, pending the developers' decision.

"We have just been refining our product mix and trying to make sure the numbers make sense and make sure we understand the scope of the market, to make sure we are building something that is going to work," Coley said yesterday.

Coley said Hallmark and Stiles executives are working toward a decision "as fast as we possibly can." He said in November that the companies were undertaking due diligence on the property.

"We are really working feverishly on it," he said yesterday. "We have to finish this phase of it and make sure the economics make sense and then proceed."

Coley said Krutko could provide information about the market and other planned projects, such as the Berkman Plaza apartment tower that will break ground tomorrow afternoon on the Northbank of the St. Johns River downtown.

He said developers had not determined whether the city would be asked for financial help with St. …

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