The board of directors of the Downtown Investment Authority approved the first two private development projects on January 20 that requested funding from its historic improved incentive program.
The board voted 8-1 to grant JWB Real Estate Capital the request for $ 8,706,356 from the Downtown Preservation and Restoration Program to renovate and restore the Florida Baptist Convention Building at 218 W. Church St. et al. ‘former Federal Reserve Bank Building at 424 N. Hogan St.
A request from the Regions Bank for $ 900,000 in assistance for the historic preservation program and an economic development loan of $ 200,000 for the rehabilitation and preservation of $ 2.633 million of its downtown headquarters at 51 W Bay St. as well as temporary parking charges were approved 9-0.
JWB Real Estate Capital
JWB, headed by company president Alex Sifakis, is planning 24 studio and one-bedroom apartments at market rates for the Church Street building.
The Florida Baptist Convention Building will also have two 2,000 square foot dining spaces and two 655 square foot and 492 square foot retail spaces on the first floor and basement.
JWB plans to renovate the Hogan Street building to include two dining areas: 4,500 square feet on the first floor and 2,900 square feet in the basement.
The second and third floors of the property will each offer 4,500 square feet of event space.
The redevelopment plans will connect the buildings via an exterior courtyard to the adjacent Seminole building. JWB Real Estate Capital owns all three structures.
DIA staff reports show the incentives including forgivable loans totaling $ 3,370,170; Repayable code compliance loans totaling $ 3,325,900; and Downtown Preservation and Revitalization Program Deferred principal loans totaling $ 1,727,864.
Board member Braxton Gillam voted no on incentives. He noted that the city’s expected return on investment of 50 cents for every dollar of taxpayer money is near the low point of what the DIA’s public investment policy allows.
Gillam said he didn’t like the developer paying more than 50% of the roughly $ 16 million project with federal and municipal incentives.
“I hate that this project comes to us together. I think that covers what could be, if not here, a future way of abusing the program, ”said Gilliam. “It’s too much to ask of the city and the taxpayers.”
Board member Jim Citrano Jr. said return on investment should not take precedence over rehabilitation and revitalization of inactive buildings.
“It makes sense to me that the first candidate under this program has the lowest ROI for us because they take the most risk,” Citrano said. “The priority here is to bring these vacant and dilapidated buildings back into production. I think this is a model project in this regard. “
Bank of regions
Regions Bank has received a guarantee from the DIA Board of Directors that it will receive $ 900,000 in forgivable historic preservation loans to execute its five-year capital plan when it is ready to move forward.
According to the staff report, the regions will replace windows and do other exterior renovations, eliminate plant growth and better seal the structure against the elements.
Future phases will focus on code compliance to make ownership more accessible and functional as part of the regions growth strategy in the Jacksonville market, the staff report says of the demand.
Regions lawyer Steve Diebenow of Driver, McAfee, Hawthorne & Diebenow said the bank wanted the money to be guaranteed but not allocated because its capital plan will not be ready to be executed immediately and the status historic of the building is pending at the city council.
The bank will be able to make five draws out of the $ 900,000 and will have to return to the DIA to approve each phase of the plan.
The $ 200,000 grant will be used to offset costs associated with the sale of its surface parking adjacent to its corporate headquarters to accommodate neighboring VyStar Credit Union’s plans to build a parking garage along Forsyth Street between Main Streets and Laura.
The regions negotiated the sale of the property to VyStar for the garage under construction as part of a redevelopment agreement signed with the DIA and the city on July 15.
A parking agreement with VyStar will make 250 spaces available to the city for the benefit of retail businesses. However, construction of the parking garage will block signage for existing areas.
The regions incurred legal fees during the negotiations in addition to other costs related to the planning, design and implementation of new signs to mitigate the impact of the garage.
Regions are also anticipating costs associated with temporary parking requirements for employees and customers who will be eligible for reimbursement under the agreement.
The grant would be used for the construction of the bank access to the garage as well as for mobile signage. Funding will require verification of expenditure incurred and inspection of the work.
Board member Oliver Barakat said Regions’ request for an incentive was “unorthodox,” but he is ready to back the deal because the bank was a “willing partner” to build the. VyStar garage, the business of which on the ground floor was discussed at length.
The property, the historic Old Bisbee building, was built in 1909. It is considered one of the most historic properties in the city center for its contribution to the resurgence of the city after the great fire of 1901 and for its architecture .
The site was recommended for Site of Local Interest status by the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Committee on October 28 and is under consideration for its final designation by Council under Order 2020-0728.
JWB and Regions projects will now be submitted to Council for final approval.