When Carrie Smith, a retail real estate broker, saw the conceptual redesign renderings of the Jacksonville Landing, she immediately wanted to get the information in front of several of her clients.
Smith, regional managing partner of Franklin Street in Jacksonville, said the Landing isn’t on the radar of any of the retailers she works with. But the proposed redevelopment of that property, which includes a mix of uses — among them residential, a hotel and possibly office space — could change that.
“Adding the hotel and residential changes the whole landscape of what type of retailers you could see there,” Smith said.
The conceptual redesign of the Landing was presented to the Downtown Investment Authority on Wednesday evening. The design is still very much in flux, with DIA board members requesting market feasiblity studies for such a project, to determine the demand for a boutique hotel and residential units.
The viability of the project will come down to its financing. While neither Landing owner Sleiman Enterprises nor city officials are willing to put a price tag on it yet — the numbers will change as the project continues to be shaped — the project will be a public-private partnership, funded in part by city money. High-rise construction like the 10-story hotel and the 20-story residential tower proposed in the renderings is exorbitantly expensive, and commercial and residential rents in Downtown Jacksonville aren’t anywhere high enough to justify the costs.
But while those towers are subject to change based on the feasibility, the riverfront retail is a foundation of the project — both figuratively and literally, taking up the ground floor of two five-story buildings, which would have either residential units or office space on floors two through five.
Attracting and retaining retail in the urban core has been a struggle that dates back decades, but this project, with it mix of uses and riverfront location, could make the difference between viable retail and dark storefronts, said Don Shea, the former executive director of the Jacksonville Civic Council, which played a large role in the creation of the DIA.
“I think the kind of retail they’ve had in the Landing in the last generation has not been what I’ll call destination retail,” Shea said. “They need a better mix, and you’ve got have customers for retail, and if you don’t, the retail will fold or dwindle down to lower quality pretty quick.”
From a retail perspective, Smith said the first possible tenant that came to mind was a “destination restaurant,” whether it’s a local name like Chef Tom Gray’s Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails or a national concept like Bar Louie or Dick’s Last Resort.
Given the residential and office base Downtown, Smith also said she saw potential for service retail, like a dry cleaner or nail salon.
“I’m not sure about boutique retail Downtown, not sure if it’s ready,” she said, “but wouldn’t it be cool to see Lululemon there?” Download PDF