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Project Empire: More details about proposed $64 million development (Courtesy of the Jacksonville Daily Record) — More details are available about code-named Project Empire, the proposed 100-job, $64 million distribution center in North Jacksonville seeking a $1.5 million Recapture Enhanced Value Grant from City Council.

Municipal utility JEA approved a service availability request Aug. 3 for Project Empire, but like city summaries, no company or tenant was identified.

The JEA application provides more details about the project.

Zion Jacksonville LLC of Bronx, New York, is the property owner.

The two-phase 497,640-square-foot distribution center is planned on 50.2 acres at southwest Kraft and Eastport roads in North Jacksonville.

It will include a 16,600-square-foot office.

The warehouse will have 44 loading docks and at least 90 employees.

A site plan shows a 373,230-square-foot first-phase building with a future expansion of 124,410 square feet.

There is parking for 234 cars and 104 trailers in the first phase. The addition could add 90 spaces for cars.

BGE Inc. in Jacksonville is the civil engineer.

All of that supplements the initial details that were included in a city project summary and legislative fact sheet considered Aug. 21 by the Mayor’s Budget Review Committee.

The committee voted to advance legislation to Council for the grant. Project Empire is expected to be filed in time for first reading at the Sept. 12 Council meeting.

The summary and fact sheets showed the unidentified company proposes to build a 400,000-square-foot building at an estimated $57 million and invest $7 million for machinery and equipment.

The vote authorizes the city’s Office of Economic Development to introduce legislation to Council for a property tax refund capped at $1.5 million over five years.

The site plan for Project Empire shows a 373,230-square-foot first-phase building and a new retention pond.

The grant is based on 50% of the increase in real and personal property taxes.

The city’s project summary states the company plans to distribute products throughout the Southeast. It proposes to create up to 100 jobs within a year of completing construction and installing the equipment.

The summary says the company is considering other cities in the Southeast for the project and the grant is a material factor in the site decision.

It says the company has about 400,000 employees globally and has a “significant presence in Florida.”

The committee asked to have details of the refund clarified and the number of new jobs filled by Jacksonville residents be tracked.

Also according to the facts presented to the committee:

• The jobs would be created no later than one year after construction is completed.

• The REV grant is based on the increase in the real and tangible property taxes generated by the construction and the machinery and equipment.

• The jobs would include logisticians and warehouse receiving and shipping jobs. Logisticians analyze and coordinate an organization’s supply chain.

• While not identified, the “international name recognition” would help the city build its reputation “as the hub for logistics and distribution in the Southeast U.S.”

• The company has a “significant presence” in Florida with similar operations in neighboring states and around the world.

• The company will provide logistic and distribution services throughout the Southeast U.S. 

• The return on investment is $5.15 to the city for every $1 invested.