DDRB Considering Concept Studies for LaVilla Townhouses | Jax Daily Record | Jacksonville Daily Record


City officials are making a second attempt to develop townhouses for sale in the downtown LaVilla neighborhood.

The Downtown Development Review Board is expected to review plans on June 10 from JWB Real Estate Capital LLC and Corner Lot Development Group’s joint proposal for 91 three-story townhouses on 3.45 acres next to Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing Park.

JWB and Corner Lot formed Johnson Commons LLC for the townhouse proposal. It finished second behind Vestcor Companies Inc. in a 2019 Downtown Investment Authority RFP for the city-owned site, bounded by Adams, Lee, Houston and Forsyth streets.

City Council approved a development agreement in January 2020 with Vestcor VC subsidiary LaVilla Townhomes for an 88-unit project. The DIA agreed to review Johnson Commons in March after Vestcor scrapped plans and returned the land to the city.

DIA CEO Lori Boyer said on June 4 that no further offers or proposals were made for the property after a 30-day notice of disposition issued by the board of directors on March 17, allowing officials of the city to consider the JWB and Corner Lot project.

JWB Real Estate Capital LLC and Corner Lot Development Group are looking to build the townhouses.

The DIA was unable to draft an agreement with Johnson Commons before giving 30 days to other interested parties to submit a proposal.

Boyer said the documents and legislation, once drafted, will be sent to the mayor’s budget review committee and city council for approval.

A report in the meeting agenda file released on June 3 indicates that DDRB staff are recommending that the board give concept approval to Johnson Commons designs.

The townhouse proposal includes attached one-car garages, some with balconies and park access, soon to be rebuilt and redesigned by Oakland, Calif. Landscape architect Walter Hood of Hood Design Studio.

Johnson Commons will have to return for DDRB approval for the second phase. The developer envisions 10,000 square feet of stand-alone retail or a multi-family residential project with at least 10,000 square feet of retail on the ground floor.

Johnson Commons is planned on city land that it would receive free of charge if the project is approved.

“As seen in the submitted architectural plans, the side elevations, in particular, show a lot of detail. This is an improvement over the previously approved project which lacked fenestration and detail along the side elevations which created large blank walls, ”the report says.

“The double-gabled roof on the sides also creates additional architectural interest and is a nod to historic homes in LaVilla.”

Landscape architect firm Marquis Latimer + Halback and environmental and engineering firm GAI Consultants worked on the site plan, according to documents submitted to DDRB staff.

They also show that Johnson Commons is represented by the law firm Driver, McAfee, Hawthorne & Diebenow.

If the project is approved, Johnson Commons would donate $ 150,000 to Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing Park and install LaVilla heritage signs.

DIA documents say Johnson Commons would take ownership of the site at no cost if the deal was approved. The report says the property was valued in 2019 at $ 3.58 million.

DIA staff calculated a return of $ 1.06 to the city for every $ 1 invested in the project.

If the developer sells the townhouses for more than $ 250,250 each, Johnson Commons will have to pay the city 50% of the net sale proceeds above the base sale price.

JWB Real Estate Capital President Alex Sifakis said on March 5 that the development team is planning an investment of $ 18 million in townhouses.

Johnson Commons has removed eight townhouses from its original design to make way for a community pool and more second-phase retail, he said.

The staff of the Downtown Development Review Board recommends approval of the townhouse design.

The townhouse proposal includes attached one-car garages, some with balconies.

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