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By: Stephanie Brown @SBrownReports
September 20, 2018 6:47 PM

Photo Credit: Barrington Development

Jacksonville, FL - A new plan to redevelop the Berkman II site on the Northbank of Downtown Jacksonville is not derailing plans to create the USS Adams Museum along the St. Johns River.

In fact, the group behind the Museum believes the new project can be a win-win.

WOKV has been telling you about the redevelopment of the Berkman II site, with Barrington Development estimating their plan to cost $122 million, including a resort hotel, parking garage, and “Family Entertainment Center” with arcade games, rides, and more. The Downtown Investment Authority Board green-lighted a term sheet this week that would allow up to $36 million in City incentives for the project, with negotiations now underway.

Evident in the renderings for this redevelopment is the USS Adams moored along a pier by that Family Entertainment Center.

“People coming to visit the USS Adams now, we believe, will be able to and will willingly participate in the other types of attractions that this developer is bringing,” says Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association President Daniel Bean.

Bean says the City brought them in to the discussion when the Berkman II proposal came forward, because of the proximity of the development to the pier where JHNSA has the rights to moor the USS Adams, and their rights on the land immediately around that. He says they are completely in support of the proposed redevelopment, because- while they built an economic model that will allow the Museum to stand alone- this can bring in even more visitors, and therefore exposure and revenue.

“We think that anything that they do, any of the attractions and rides that they put in, are going to be incredibly helpful to us,” Bean says.

He says he sees the two projects as eventually working together seamlessly, possibly including the ship store going up among any storefront the Berkman II development may bring, or tickets to the USS Adams Museum being sold among the tickets for the other attractions in the Family Entertainment Center.

With the Berkman II redevelopment still years away, though, Bean says they’re pushing ahead.

“We do not have to wait for them, and we won’t wait for them. The Navy won’t allow us to wait that long,” he says.

With the new developer, Bean says they have to rework some of their licensing agreement with the City. When that is done, they need to secure final approval from their lender. The only thing left after that is final approval by the Navy, including the release of the warship.

“We are working as hard as we can to try to bring the warship in November,” he says.

He says they have a four-week drydock plan to restore the outside of the ship and get her ready to be towed to Jacksonville. That’s one area where they’re seeing the time pressure, because the drydock is open right now.

Once the ship is in Jacksonville, Bean says it will take another four weeks to get the Museum portion ready topside, so they can start opening to the public and generating revenue. While he says they still hope to be able to do that along with the start of the “Week of Valor” in November, the timeline may have to slide, pending the approvals they’re waiting for.

“It’s an ongoing process, it’s a complex process,” he says.

After the Museum is up and running, he says they move on to refurbishing the berthing areas on board, which can then be used for sleepovers for scouts, cadets, and camps. They will also look to host events, from weddings to re-enlistments to corporate meetings and trainings. Beyond that, Bean says the challenge is continuing to enhance the attraction and bring in new elements, in order to give people a reason to keep coming back.

He says, when this journey started a decade or so ago, they wanted to bring a new life in to Downtown Jacksonville. Now, with them being so close and with the Berkman II development moving forward, Bean says there is a lot to be excited about.

“At the end of the day, when all of those pieces are put together, it is going to be an incredible venue for the City of Jacksonville, and it will draw tourists from around the country,” he says.

The USS Charles F. Adams called Naval Station Mayport her homeport for 21- of her 30-year career, according to JHNSA. They say this will be Florida’s first naval warship museum.

Bean says they have secured the needed funding to bring the ship down, including private donations and some State support, but they always welcome continued support to go toward future operations. You can donate through their website.

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