Friday, April 9, 2010
UF students design cruise terminal for old Ford site
Jacksonville Business Journal - by Christian Conte Staff Writer
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The former Ford assembly plant that sits at the base of the Mathews Bridge could one day be a cruise ship terminal and destination port, according to a study conducted by a group of students at the University of Florida.
A group of 16 students in the university’s College of Design, Construction and Planning department of interior design created design possibilities for the 86-year-old building that include 60,000 square feet of cruise ship terminal space, 50,000 square feet of boutique hotel space, 10,000 square feet of restaurant/lounge space and 40,000 square feet of what the students termed “wild card” space that included a variety of possible uses including a cinema, convention space and art display space.
Preliminary cost estimates for the project from cruise ship consultants are around $30 million.
The Jacksonville Port Authority is considering moving the cruise terminal at Dames Point to Mayport or two other unnamed sites east of the Dames Point Bridge. The authority needs a new terminal because the site of the present cruise terminal at Dames Point will become home to Hanjin Shipping Co.’s new container terminal.
About 80 percent of major cruise line ships can’t pass under Dames Point bridge and nearby wires, said port authority CEO Rick Ferrin.
Sonny Redmond, one of the partners in the investment group that owns the property, Hill Street LLC, said he hopes to use the students’ design suggestions as the basis for a future development plan for the site, but not unless he earns the support of the community for the idea.
“In order to have a project like this work, you have to have 100 percent support from all the stakeholders,” Redmond said.
The 165,000-square-foot facility is part of a 35-acre tract that Hill Street owns that stretches from the base of the bridge to Talleyrand Avenue. The facility was built for the Ford Motor Co. in 1924-25. It was used as an assembly plant until the mid-1930s and then for storage and shipping through the 1950s. Although the property has been through a succession of owners until Hill Street acquired it in 2001, it has continued to be leased out to various industrial users over the years.
Redmond said the group didn’t have any specific development plans for the property when it bought it, but when the president of the Florida chapter of the nonprofit group DOCOMOMO, which advocates for preserving historic structures, asked Assistant Professor Marty Hylton to have his students review the project as a possible cruise ship terminal, he decided to take him up on the offer.
The idea has already gotten the attention of some in the cruise ship industry. Mike Greve, president of the Miami cruise ship development consultation company Global Destinations, said he likes the site because of its history, because it is an existing building that would reduce the capital expense of construction and because it’s a Downtown site.
The owner of the property now plans to contract with Global Destinations to have the site evaluated and graded for its potential as a cruise ship terminal site. If it grades well, Redmond said the next step would be approaching the city about the idea.
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