Port Hears First Broker Ideas About Land Sale

By Mike Lednovich
OHPA-owned parcels highlighted in red.

During a special meeting of the Ocean Highway and Port Authority (OHPA) Thursday, commissioners were informed that the value of three parcels the port owns near downtown could be as much as $2.75 million. Other estimates they received were less.

Last May, OHPA approved issuing a request for proposal (RFP) from real estate brokers to first place a valuation on the three properties and then handle the sale of the land.

The lots are:

.29 acres on the northeast corner of Third and Dade and zoned R-2 medium density.

.32 acres on the southeast corner of Third and Dade and zoned R-2 medium density.

About one-third of an acre on Third near Escambia and zoned MU-1mixed-use.

OHPA received six broker proposals, but only three of those estimated the potential value of the properties for sale.

Marcus & Millichap of Jacksonville is the agency that gave the highest land value of $2,750,000.

However, Savannah Land of Jacksonville placed the maximum value at about $1,200,000 with a recommended listing of $1,150,000 for the three properties.

Broker Cabana Lane of Fernandina Beach placed the value at $2,280,000. “As we explored the “highest and best use” valuation of the properties, we evaluated some alternative ways that each of the parcels could be broken up and offered. While the 25′ lots are an option in R-2 zoning we believe the overall best approach is consolidating the 25′ lots into 50′ lots on all parcels,” Cabana Lane wrote in its assessment to OHPA.

“Finally, besides financial considerations, the approach suggested will be well received by the Historic District Council and the City Planning Department as the alignment of homesites is more conforming to the existing homes on the street, and the included architecture also presents a complete picture.”

“Hopefully at our next meeting we’ll vote to sell them (the properties) depending on the price we can get for them,” said Chairman Danny Fullwood.

Four of the brokers were present at the meeting and said any valuation of the land would be determined by its “best use.”

All of the brokers agreed that involving the City of Fernandina Beach and the surrounding neighborhood would be beneficial.

Commissioner Ray Nelson said, “What we heard here today (from brokers) has answered a lot of questions I had and how you would go about evaluating this property. I think having an open discussion with the port neighbors, the local mayor and commissioners might not be a bad idea and let them know what our intentions are moving forward.”

Commissioner Justin Taylor said, “We need to think this through and not jump the gun. I think we also need to look at the best interests of the community and not just the money we’re bringing in.”

Vice Chair Miriam Hill spoke about other uses for the land such as a buffer between the port and the surrounding neighborhood.”We shouldn’t rush to engage with a particular firm at this point because we’re still in the information gathering phase,” she said. “I’m of the opinion that we should leave as many options for future boards as possible.”

OHPA will hear 5-minute presentations from each of the six brokers at its Aug. 9 meeting and then decide whether the property should be sold.

The property cannot be used by the port because of an inter-local agreement with the city of Fernandina Beach that precludes the port from expanding beyond its current geographic footprint into the historic downtown.

The sale of the land is also part of the port’s recently adapted Master Plan.

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Sherry Harrell
Trusted Member
Sherry Harrell(@sherry-harrell)
8 months ago

So if we look at the BIG picture, OHPA at one time had enough revenue to purchase property assets compared to today where they have suggested selling some of those assets to keep the bills paid. The port belongs to the people of Nassau County, FL, although it is located on Amelia Island. From where I’m sitting, it seems as if someone is bleeding the port dry. Mr Fullwood said he would not vote to reduce his pay that he and the other OHPA Commissioners recently voted to increase, stating that he will never get it back. What about adding another executive to operations side of things to siphon even more money from the bottom line? This is a travesty for what should be a profitable port to sell assets as a band aid patch to keep the port operations going. Why aren’t ALL the citizens of the county screaming to high heaven about what is happening??!!

Tammi Kosack
Trusted Member
Tammi Kosack(@tammi-kosack)
8 months ago
Reply to  Sherry Harrell

Agreed Sherry. We’ve had claims of malfeasance with the previous port operator, and this is nothing short of misfeasance. The port’s own mission statement states it is in existence to benefit the citizens of Nassau County. The port purchased these lots from the owners for a song, then through a not very amusing comedy of errors demolished the old homesteads, and now wants to sell to developers to pay for legal fees, the salary of a new executive and their own salaries which were doubled. (I will give credit to Commissioners Hill and Taylor for bringing up salary reductions which were not accepted.)

There is nothing here that benefits the citizens of Nassau, and in fact, the previous actions destroyed an important link of homes from the 1800’s in this part of our city.

daniel
daniel(@daniel)
8 months ago

Because we agreed not to expand the footprint of the port, those lots cannot be used by the port to build on.Therefore, it is in the best interest of OHPA to sell those properties. Some of that money will be used to pay legal bills that we have incurred because of a “City” lawsuit and some of the money could be used to improve the Customs and Border Protection house that is in need of much needed repairs. We have an opportunity to build needed infrastructure off the island to create more business opportunity for OHPA and Nassau County.
We will put deed restrictions on the property to make sure what is built on those lots will be acceptable to the neighborhood and follow historic districts guidelines. Also, I am retired and the salary I receive helps pay for my medical cost and living expenses. I do not have a second high paying job that has those benefits nor allows me to drive a Mercedes that some commissioner’s do. The salary we receive is granted to us in our state charter and we have a right to receive a wage that allows us to do this job and pay for benefits that OHPA does not offer.