Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Redevelopment of Downtown Site Closer

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Redevelopment of Downtown Site Closer

Article excerpt

Byline: Earl Daniels, Times-Union business writer

City officials will enter negotiations with Signet Development Ltd. of Jacksonville to reach a deal to redevelop three vacant downtown historic buildings into a $30 million complex.

The development is expected to consist of office space, restaurants, stores, loft apartments and condominiums.

Yesterday, five city officials unanimously ranked Signet's proposal first over plans from two other development teams.

Signet is seeking about $11 million in incentives to do the project, named the Laura Street Project.

"I am very excited about this, to put it mildly," said Anthony Manna, chairman and CEO of Akron, Ohio-based Janna Enterprises LLC, the parent company of Signet.

The three development teams took turns presenting their projects over the course of three hours to a mixture of city officials, including representatives of the Downtown Development Authority and the Historic Preservation Society.

Afterward, the three teams were ranked by city officials in order of acceptance.

Yesterday's decision was a step toward ridding downtown of what many city officials and residents have determined an eyesore, the vacant Florida National Bank, Bisbee and Florida Life buildings. The buildings were built at the turn of the 20th century and have stood vacant for several years. They are cater-cornered to the Bank of America tower at Laura and Forsyth streets and were among 10 buildings reviewed for redevelopment by the Downtown Historic Task Force last year.

In February, the city bought the buildings for $3.2 million. The city's intent is to sell the buildings or include them in an economic incentives package to attract a developer.

City officials issued a request for proposals to redevelop the buildings earlier this year, and Signet, Klutho Partners LLC and Steinemann & Co., all of Jacksonville, responded.

The three plans for the buildings proposed similar uses. …

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