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New JEA Headquarters Near TIAA Bank Field Being Considered

A new JEA headquarters could become one of downtown’s most significant construction projects in years and potentially anchor one of several high-profile private developments planned in downtown, according to new plans shown to the utility’s board of directors Monday.

Our Florida Times-Union news partner reports JEA is considering two private developments as a new home for a headquarters: Lot J outside TIAA Bank Field, which is planned to be part of a $2.5 billion mega-development proposed by Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan; or a possible redevelopment of a four-block area along the Ocean Street and Main Street corridor proposed by Jacksonville developer Steve Atkins, who is leading the redevelopment of the Barnett Bank building and Laura Street Trio buildings in downtown.

Those possibilities are considerably more high-profile than the option JEA had been moving toward. A new headquarters for the city-owned utility, and the presence of the 800-plus employees that came with it, would be a significant boost to any private development.

Last year, JEA signed off on a land-swap with City Hall that would have provided a plot on West Adams Street between the Duval County Courthouse and the Bryan Simpson United States Courthouse for a new building and parking garage.

It’s not clear what prompted JEA to consider other options, including the Khan and Atkins proposals, but the land-swap option is still on the table. A utility spokeswoman, however, said if the West Adams Street site is selected, JEA would likely ask the city if it could buy the property outright, rather than use the mechanics of the previous land-swap agreement.

JEA could also choose to rent space in one of downtown’s already-existing skyscrapers — the Bank of America building or the One Enterprise Center — though some board members voiced a preference for a new standalone building.

“You lose an enormous amount by being in a multi-tenant building,” said JEA board member John Campion. “You can’t define your culture, you can’t define your space.”

JEA board members did not discuss the options in detail Monday.

JEA officials have been looking at building a new headquarters for several years and no longer appear to be seriously considering refurbishing the existing tower and customer-service center.

JEA and outside consultants say the current tower, built in 1962, is in such dire need of major renovations that refurbishing it would cost more than building a new headquarters at a new site.

A longer version of this story with additional details is at jacksonville.com.