Historic Bostwick Building Demolition Meeting Tonight

November 19, 2013 231 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

After letting their property fall apart for decades, the owners of the historic Bostwick Building are urging the City Council to allow them to demolish the structure. For those interested in not seeing another vacant weed downtown lot, the City Council's Land Use and Zoning Committee will be having a public hearing on this topic tonight.



Please be advised that the City Council Land Use and Zoning Committee will be hearing the two items relating to the Bostwick Building at their meeting this evening at 5:00 pm.  This first item will be Res 2012-657, which is the owners’ appeal of the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission’s denial of their request for demolition permit.  The second item is Ord 2012-720, which is the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission's (JHPC) recommendation that the Bostwick Building be granted local historic landmark status.  These items are first on the agenda.  If the owners’ appeal of the JHPC decision is approved by the LUZ, then a demolition permit will be granted.  

Those who desire to help preserve this structure are urged to write the members of the LUZ committee, speak in opposition of the owners’ appeal, and share this information with fellow historic preservation supporters.  

The members of the LUZ Committee and their email addresses are provided below:
 
Lori N. Boyer – Chair LBoyer@coj.net

Matt Schelllenberg - Vice Chair MattS@coj.net

William H. Bishop  WBishop@coj.net

Raymond E. Holt Holt@coj.net

Jim Love JimLove@coj.net

Robin Lumb RLumb@coj.net

R. Don Redman Redman@coj.net
 
The DVI Board approved a position statement on the protection of this building at its meeting in September 2012.  That position statement can be found at the following link:


http://downtownjacksonville.org/Libraries/PDF_Libraries/Bostwick_Building_final.sflb.ashx.  



ORIGINAL JANUARY 2013 ARTICLE

Historic buildings lend a rich texture to the fabric of Downtown and are integral to maintenance of a unique identity. In 1991, a historic building survey identified 115 buildings in the Downtown Jacksonville Northbank  Business Improvement that met the criteria for historic designation. By the time of a follow-up survey in 2005, that number had decreased 22% to 90. Some buildings were demolished outright, while others were allowed to deteriorate to the point of collapse. Since the 2005 survey, one-by-one, several other historic buildings have been lost.  In a number of instances, only vacant lots have replaced the demolished structures.    Of the remaining  88 historic structures, 25 (28%) have been designated as Local Historic Landmarks.


What's left of LaVilla provides us with a future visual of a demolished Bostwick Building site.

In early August 2012, the owners of the Guaranty Trust and Savings building, located at 101 E. Bay Street, submitted an application for demolition of this building. Also known as the Bostwick Building and the “Jaguar” Building, this building is significant for a number of reasons, most notably its prominent location at the entry to Downtown from the Main Street Bridge, the former location of Henry Klutho’s architectural practice and also as the first building permitted following the Great Fire in 1901. Vacant since the early 1980s, the  Bostwick building has deteriorated significantly over the years.  


The Bostwick Building

Preservation of historic buildings  Downtown makes economic  sense. In 2011, PlaceEconomics documented the economic impacts of preservation in their report to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. This study found that historic preservation results in more jobs than new construction, increased property values, increased tourism, fewer environmental impacts and increased quality of life.

In response to the owner's desire to turn one of the oldest buildings in downtown Jacksonville into history, local businessman Preston Haskell has offered to purchase the structure for $150,000.  Answering an email to the Florida Times-Union, Haskell stated, “I am absolutely committed to preserving and restoring the building. “I have no specific plans or tenants, but simply wish to see this building and its architecture preserved. It’s my little contribution to downtown development and historic preservation.”

However, Val Bostwick, the building's owner has rejected this offer because it's well below their $325,000 asking price. "That offer is just pennies on the dollar and is outside the realm of possibility. When you’re offering just pennies on the dollar, you’re not going to get it,” Bostwick told Times-Union reporters.

Currently, the owner favors spending $40,000 to eliminate the building and maintain ownership of the lot, which is valued at $76,500, according to recent city appraisals.


Canfield Lofts in Midtown Detroit is an example of a new structure within the confines of a historic building.  This is one of many preservation possibilities that are superior to vacant weed choked surface lot at a key downtown gateway intersection.

Now it is up to the City Council to determine whether this significant building will be preserved.  The second public hearing will be held before the Land Use and Zoning Committee on Tuesday, January 15th at 5:00 p.m.  Downtown Vision (DVI) will be testifying at both public hearings at City Council Chambers.   Metro Jacksonville urges the community to support the preservation of the Bostwick Building by either attending the public hearings if you are able to express support for Landmark protection of the Bostwick Building, or contacting members of City Council by email.  Contact information for the Land Use and Zoning Committee is provided below:
 
Lori N. Boyer – Chair: LBoyer@coj.net
Matt Schellenberg - Vice Chair: MattS@coj.net  
Doyle Carter: doylec@coj.net
Bill Gulliford: Gulliford@coj.net  
Warren A. Jones:  WAJones@coj.net
R. Don Redman:  Redman@coj.net
 
Contact information for the full City Council can be found at the following link: http://www.coj.net/city-council/city-council-members.aspx.

Editorial by Ennis Davis