Chophouse developer: JEA a 'total detriment to downtown re-development'

The owner of a restaurant set to open in the future in downtown Jacksonville says the building's foundation has been compromised due to something JEA refuses to fix.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The developer of a highly-anticipated downtown restaurant sent some fiery e-mails to city officials about a problem he said is damaging his building.

Jacques Klempf wrote that a JEA-owned infrastructure in need of repair for at least ten years has damaged the building's foundation, and called call JEA "a total detriment to downtown re-development."

In a series of e-mails sent to city officials late last week including Mayor Curry, Cowford Chophouse developer Jacque Klempf wrote that a JEA-owned vault on Ocean Street near the restaurant is pumping silt from under the building into a storm drain.

The result? Klempf said a corner of his restaurant has shifted more than four inches.

Klempf wrote in an email: "My frustration certainly has been enhanced by the length of time we have been trying to get a repair and now it is crunch time..."

Cowford Chophouse is slated for an unspecified opening sometime this year.

Klempf said JEA will not repair it and does not think anything is wrong. He writes that JEA and FDOT have been awful to work with.

"Whoever is calling the shots at JEA is a total detriment to downtown re-development," Klempf said.

Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa wrote to the Mayor's assistant that he is open and willing to meet with Klempf to resolve this matter. Klempf wrote that he's been talking and emailing the city for over three years, that "there's no time left to 'talk,' I need action and results."

First Coast News reached out to Klempf several times for comment today, but did not hear back.

A JEA spokesperson said this issue will not affect the opening of the restaurant: "JEA has met personally with the owners and/or their representatives, and communicated via email and phone with the owners and all parties involved. We continue to work with them. They can continue with the opening as planned."

According to JEA, the issues at Chophouse are not due to them. JEA has a third-party engineer coming out to inspect the issue, the spokesperson said.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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