There’s a new group in town – “The Fernandina Beach Waterfront Development Citizens’ Authority”

Fernandina Beach Waterfront Development Citizens’ Authority
Press Release
By Jack Knocke
March 8, 2021

1943 aerial shot of Centre Street and the waterfront

Friday, the newly formed Fernandina Beach Waterfront Development Citizens’ Authority (FBWDCA) released a DRAFT Request for Qualification (RFQ) on behalf of the Fernandina Beach community. The purpose is to achieve maximum benefit to the City of Fernandina Beach and Nassau County communities, as well as private owners, from the redevelopment of the waterfront property.

You may have seen that it was covered in the News Leader, David Scott’s blog and Eye on Jacksonville. The Citizens’ Authority also published Draft RFQ ads in the Atlanta, Jacksonville and Tampa Business Chronicles.

The board of the Citizens’ Authority is an experienced and passionate group seeking to help the community achieve something that has been elusive for years. The Citizens’ Authority is a nonprofit corporation registered in Florida. I am proud to be a member of the FBWDCA board along with this great team. The FBWDCA is totally separate and distinct from Common Sense Fernandina Beach.

This solicitation is a proven process to develop the waterfront area to the specific needs of the community, leveraging a public/private partnership. This entire process is to be conducted with full transparency, broad participation, and rigorous competition. It will entail the widest possible participation in any economic opportunities and deliver the greatest value to the community.

Our local governments are an integral part of this process with regulation and zoning responsibilities, input into possible solutions, approval of any agreements, and total transparency with the community.

This process is designed to break the cycle of studies that are focused on tax funding but rarely become implemented. This proven process costs the city nothing, focuses on the “right” development partner first, delivers a successful Public/Private partnership, and creates a solution that is specifically designed for our tradition, culture, and community. Importantly, the Fernandina Beach Waterfront Development Citizens’ Authority has NO preconceived notions of what the solutions may be at this time. Ideas will come from developers that participate in this process.

We are seeking a strategic Development Manager Partner with the experience, expertise, and business relationships to redevelop the waterfront property on behalf of the community.

The next step will be to meet with respondents at a Property Tour and Informational Conference in April.

If you would like more information, would like to make suggestions or would like to get involved in some way, please contact [email protected].

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Benjamin Morrison
Benjamin Morrison (@guest_60553)
2 years ago

From my experience with public-private partnerships, for this approach to be successful, you need to have the willing participation of the city. Does your organization have the support of city commissioners and city staff, at least at the initial level?

DAVID LOTT(@dave-l)
2 years ago

To Benjamin’s point, how can you hope to accomplish a successful “public-private” partnership when you don’t even consult or have the courtesy to let the representatives of the “public” segment know of your intention? I will hold judgement until plans are developed to see what actually is proposed, but the citizens of Fernandina Beach have consistently and repeatedly said they are opposed to further commercial development on the city-owned riverfront property. The privately owned property north of the marina (with the exception of the former FL Petroleum plot) has remained derelict for the last several decades because those properties have very little uplands upon which to build a structure.

Robert Warner
Robert Warner (@guest_60556)
2 years ago

Ditto, Dave Lott. Perhaps it now is as it should be – or perhaps not. Regardless, this represents an “unsolicited proposal aimed at determining the Fernandina Beach City “needs” here. A “public spirited” private party undertakes to determine the future direction of our eclectic community on, essentially, a sole source basis. I thought this is why we have elected officials. More condo’s with securitized time shares, a Disneyworld playground for tourists brought in by Cruise Lines, an operational Ocean/Estuarian Research and Maritime Training Institution, an extension of OHPA logistics infrastructure? There is no free lunch. Exploitation to benefit private parties – with publicly financed and backed debt hovers over all. An overview of public/private partnerships, and a linked list of non profit, maritime focused institutions that have worked.…/gov-public-private-popular…/,…/List_of_oceanographic…


Peggy Bulger
Trusted Member
Peggy Bulger(@peggy-bulger1949gmail-com)
2 years ago

This seems to be a private “takeover” of our publically-owned waerfront. We elected City Commissioners to represent us in all matters that involve public assets, yet Mr Knocke and this group have not been consulting with, nor respecting the efforts of, our elected government. I am all for creating enhancements to our public waterfront that will benefit all citizens. Only a partnership between the city government with robust citizen input will achieve this. The problem with letting “developers” take charge is that their bottom line is profit for the corporation, not the benefits to the citizens of Fernandina Beach writ large. Just my personal opinion, but one that deserves to be heard.

Robert Warner
Robert Warner (@guest_60558)
2 years ago
Reply to  Peggy Bulger

Just submitted a similar comment, Peggy. Yep.

Jack Knocke
Jack Knocke (@guest_60560)
2 years ago
Reply to  Peggy Bulger


We have simply released a DRAFT Request for Qualifications to identify a development manager partner who can help the citizens of Fernandina Beach. We are completely open to City, County and citizen participation. All of our materials reinforce that the city is an integral part of this process. In no way is this a “takeover” so please do not spread misinformation. We have invited everyone, including the city – and you, to be a part of this process. It has only just begun.


DAVE LOTT(@dave-l)
2 years ago
Reply to  Jack Knocke

So if the News-Leader story is accurate, why wasn’t the City Manager made “an integral part of this process”? Quite telling quote from the article “Ideas will come from developers that participate in this process.” as to who will be driving this process. The City’s participation, should they choose to do so, will have transparency as such is required by law; but where is the transparency from FBWDCA as it has been opaque at best to this point.

Perry Anthony
Perry Anthony (@guest_60565)
2 years ago
Reply to  DAVE LOTT

Maybe City Manager Dale Martin wasn’t included because he is part of the problem we have here, not the solution!!!

Robert S. Warner, Jr.
Robert S. Warner, Jr. (@guest_60568)
2 years ago
Reply to  Perry Anthony

Not at all, Perry. Dale Martin has done an excellent job for those of us who live here.

Joanna Murphy
Joanna Murphy (@guest_60561)
2 years ago
Reply to  Peggy Bulger

Well said. I agree with you, too!

Chris Hadden
Chris Hadden (@guest_60564)
2 years ago

Love the fact they are using the word “authority” in their title. As if they have any. Last thing we need now is more cooks in the kitchen. Your welcome to present your views and suggestions, at the appropriate time, to the city commissioners. They will be making the actual decisions as our elected officials.