​Jacksonville, FL (February 2, 2022) – On September 14th, Ordinance 2021-497, introduced by Council Member Danny Becton, was passed unanimously by the city council which provided for a donation of approximately 15+ acres off AC Skinner Parkway, including a $1 million-dollar private contribution going towards its development.  This was done with the objective to develop a new future “active” city park for the Southside area.  Now, after months of navigating the legal details and paperwork between the City of Jacksonville and PG Investco, that $1 million donation is now in a park trust fund, and the property has been officially closed resulting in those plans now able to become a reality.

The Development Agreement, Bill 2021-497, was related to other changes that also included a Land-Use Bill, 2021-517, and a Rezoning Bill, 2021-518. These three Bills together outlined the potential use of the entire 42.56-acre property off AC Skinner Parkway from previously zoned Community-General Commercial/ Commercial Office to High Density Residential/ Planned Unit Development and Recreation and Open Space (CGC/CO to HDR/PUD & ROS) for the park area.  The development of this property will be done in several phases, detailed by the ordinance, first to develop a 347 multifamily community as Phase I, then in future years Phases II & III to include additional multifamily units of 332 & 323 respectively.  Phase IV is the 15.24-acre active park plan, (property now has been transferred in ownership to the City of Jacksonville).

The closing of the donated property now allows the city to move forward with the planned development of an active park.  The proposed concept plan for this park allows for three large multi-flex fields for team sports, such as football, soccer, and other activities that require open space and can easily be converted depending on the type of activity.  In addition, the concept plan includes playground areas, pavilions with grills and restrooms, nature walking trails, sand volleyball, basketball or pickleball courts and a large water body with a central flowing stream that runs through the property for all to enjoy.

This new park will be an extremely important benefit to the additional active parks in the area to help alleviate current parks that are over-burdened such as Fort Family Park on Baymeadows Road East.  Fort Family Park is a regional park that is highly sought after, and on a typical day it is found to require constant and extensive investment in maintenance based on that over-use.

“The desire to find additional acres of available property within the Southside was certainly important and difficult to say the least”, Council Member Becton expressed. “Growth in this part of Jacksonville is placing pressure on property owners to sell the existing undeveloped land areas for new residential neighborhoods, not for recreational use, at a premium price.” Becton added. “This situation demanded negotiations that were on-going for over two years involving several parties, and at times it was a concern whether it would even happen at all. In the end, the partnership between the City and PG Investco, prevailed.  I am extremely grateful to everyone involved!” Council Member Becton concluded.

The main benefit to the immediate area will be to provide an additional resource to a section of the district that is rapidly growing, almost exclusively residential.  Nearby residents will have the opportunity to enjoy this great asset of the city within their backyard, only a short commute by foot or by bicycle, and will truly enhance the quality of life for all residents.

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By Joe Johnson, District 11 Executive Council Assistant and CM Danny Becton.