Earlier adaptive reuse plans

A model of the 2003 Jacksonville Landing redevelopment plan that would have reused the existing building as a part of a larger development.

Shortly after purchasing the Landing in 2003, Toney Sleiman began developing comprehensive plans to update the structure to the realities of the modern market. The first of these, revealed in December 2004, included an opening at Laura Street, a revamped public plaza, and several new buildings to include residential and hotel uses.

Sleiman committed to investing $250 million in the project pending a $51 million incentive package from the city. The plan ultimately fell apart when the city balked at the pricetag, although Sleiman returned to it again in 2009. Subsequently, the Great Recession tabled talk of renovating the Landing for several years.

A rendering of storefronts facing Independent Drive from another failed attempt by developer Toney Sleiman to partner with the City of Jacksonville to retrofit the existing Jacksonville Landing buildings.

It wasn’t until 2013 that Sleiman shifted to the concept of demolishing and replacing the Landing. This culminated in the 2014-2015 plans, which included a $12 million incentive package courtesy of then-mayor Alvin Brown. Sleiman and Brown’s proposal was subject to extensive criticism by local leadership, who called it unnecessary and overly expensive. Brian Hughes, then an advisor to Lenny Curry’s mayoral campaign, said at the time, ““throwing money, nearly $12 million, at special interests while kids are being gunned down in the street because of fewer cops is not simply outrageous it’s disgusting.” The Civic Council, a group of prominent businesspeople, criticized the limited public input the plan received.

Given that the 2014-15 plan was so roundly criticized, it should not be used to limit public engagement four years later in an entirely different plan. In fact, if we’re looking at those plans at all, it should be alongside all the available proposals, including the past comprehensive proposals for adapting and expanding the Landing, and the more recent pitches like the one we published in “Adaptive Reuse: An Artists’ Vision For The Landing. The public deserves the chance to fully vet all the available options.

Ask the mayor and City Council members to give you that chance now.

The Jacksonville Landing courtyard in 2008.

Editorial by J.D. McGregor. Contact J.D. at jdmcgregorjax@gmail.com.