A Mississippi development firm asked the City of Jacksonville on Friday to withdraw a proposed agreement that would have paid them up to $36 million in public incentives to redevelop downtown’s vacant Berkman II property into a hotel and family-oriented resort.
WJCT News partner The Florida Times-Union reported that in a letter sent to Brian Hughes, Mayor Lenny Curry’s chief of staff and the interim leader of the Downtown Investment Authority, a representative from the development firm said that several issues forced them to change course on the project.
The issues included a decision to not bring a decommissioned warship to downtown and turn it into a museum, which was announced in December, and contamination on an adjacent city-owned property where they proposed building a parking garage, ferris wheel and outdoor entertainment center.
The group said they “remain committed” to developing the property but need to create a new plan, which could include retrofitting the half-built Berkman II tower into a “right-sized” hotel that would have a small number of residential units on the upper floor.
The news is the latest setback for the Berkman II, which has remained a blighted eyesore on downtown’s Bay Street since a parking garage collapsed in 2007, killing one worker and ultimately dooming the condominium project.
The Times-Union is working on an expanded version of this developing story. It will be available at this Jacksonville.com link.