Five City-Owned Properties that Should be Sold Now!April 23, 2008 18 comments Print Article
With the economic slowdown and Florida's Property Tax Amendments, Jacksonville is in a bit of a budget crunch. The city owns a lot of property downtown that is not contributing the the revitalization effortor the tax rolls Today, Metro Jacksonville takes a look at five city-owned properties that should be sold to the private sector as soon as possible.
1. Forsyth St. Parking Lot
This lot was obtained by the City in the Landing/Cameron Kuhn/Humana/City Land Swap deal back in 2006. Since then, Kuhn's empire has collapsed, Toney Sleiman hasn't begun renovations of The Landing, and the city still owns a half block parking lot on Forsyth St. With Laura St, The Florida Theatre, the Landing, and Hemming Plaza within a two block walk of the site, this would be a prime site for an RFP.
2007 Assessed Value: $1,034,787 (Plus 22 Historic Light Fixtures valued at $220,000)
1. Courthouse Site Extra Blocks
Despite the Judge's desire for a big, sprawled out courthouse, it is not needed (for an example of a inexpensive, efficient courthouse built in 2007, click here: http://www.metrojacksonville.com/content/view/648/). The City currently owns seven blocks for a future courthouse. One block is the courthouse garage that is already built, one is the old federal courthouse, and five are vacant. Keep one for a tower, and sell four blocks.
2007 Assessed Value (west four blocks) $8,178,735
3. Supervisor of Elections Site
This is the only of the five sites that actually has a structure on it. For you downtown historians, this was the Downtown Winn-Dixie before the Downtown Winn-Dixie moved to Market St. It currently serves as the offices for the Supervisor of Elections. Why does the Supervisor of Elections need their own office with a parking lot more than the Tax Collector or Property Appraiser? They don't - it should be sold off ASAP.
2007 Assessed Value $1,544,343
4. Main St Pocket Park
This one the city had the option of selling - and chose not to. Instead, they got FDOT money for parks and streetscaping and determined that it must be spent here instead of Confederate Park, Klutho Park, or Friendship Fountain. It is commonly filled with the homeless and the design makes it largely unusable for anything more than a $700,000 dog walk. Jacksonville - do us all a favor and sell this property.
2007 Assessed Value $1,006,675
5. LaVilla Union Street Site
This one may come as a bit of a surprise, it being disconnected from the core, but it makes the list for a few reasons. First, the $2 million mistake that is Sax Seafood is right next door. Second, Union and State Streets carry more traffic than any other downtown street, and based on traffic count alone, it could be a draw for a large retailer. It is also the biggest site, yet it is worth the least, making it friendly for potential workforce housing. Finally, given its location next to the Jacksonville Urban League and the Ritz Theatre (and I-95), it's probably downtown's best bet for some destination retail.
2007 Assessed Value $780,784
You may be wondering if this is the right time to issue an RFP to developers. Frankly, it's actually a good time. Aside from the fact that it would create more property on the tax rolls, it could potentially trigger large scale infill that our downtown is currently in need of. If you still have doubts, check out the responses to St. Petersburg's RFP for the Tampa Bay Rays existing ballpark here: http://www.metrojacksonville.com/content/view/761/
In a time with a tight budget, this may be an effective way to get dollars rolling into downtown without spending any of our taxpayer money.
Article written by Steve Congro