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bobliocatt

Jacksonville: two more potential restorations

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Although these aren't highrise proposals, the restorations of these midrise early 1900's buildings will add to the overall vibrancy of downtown Jax.

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Jury reduces city's cost for Havertys building (former YMCA)

(vacant Haverty's Building on left of pic)

Laura%20Street.jpg

DOWNTOWN -- In what experts consider a victory for the city of Jacksonville, a Circuit Court jury recently decided the city must pay $1.63 million to take the former Havertys furniture store building from its owner, $3.87 million less than what the owner said the building is worth and $350,000 less than the city's highest offer.

An appraiser hired by the city valued the building at $1.2 million; the city's best offer before trial was $1.98 million, said Assistant City General Counsel Bruce Page.

Philip Browning of Atlanta bought the building for $600,000 in March 1981 and sought $5.5 million in the three-day trial that ended April 28.

It was an unusual defense in an eminent domain case "because the owner did not put on any professional evaluation," said Kenneth Davis, who has argued many eminent domain cases for the Florida Department of Transportation's District II office in Northeast Florida. "Typical of these eminent domain cases is that they are battles of the experts."

Davis was among several in the close-knit community of eminent domain attorneys and appraisers who observed portions of the trial. "The jury just wasn't buying Browning's theories as to how he arrived at his number," Davis said. "It would appear that the jury showed a certain amount of wisdom."

Attorney Bruce B. Humphrey of Lewis Longman & Walker, who along with W.O. "Bill" Birchfield represented Browning, said it is likely the $1,625,724 the jury awarded did not cover Browning's investment in the building, considering 23 years of taxes and maintenance.

Page said it is the city's position that because the last offer was $1.98 million, the jury's verdict means a zero benefit for Browning and nothing for his attorneys.

Humphrey said there might be a dispute over fees because he contends that the city's last offer was $1.3 million.

Based on that assertion and a state formula under which the owner's attorneys are paid, Lewis Longman & Walker would collect about $100,000.

The city appropriated $2 million for the purchase of the building, including $700,000 for the design of its renovation, said Public Works Director Lynn Westbrook, who estimated the actual renovation, including asbestos removal, would cost $6 million to $7 million.

Designed by noted architect Henry Klutho, the six-story building on the northeast corner of Laura and Duval streets was erected between 1908 and 1909 for the Young Men's Christian Association. It is notable as the first reinforced concrete building in the area, according to area historian Wayne Wood.

In 1929, the YMCA was unable to make its mortgage payments, Wood said in his book on Jacksonville architecture. The building was sold and remodeled for retail space, later becoming home to Havertys furniture store. It had been vacant for many years before Browning bought it.

Once renovated, the building will be used as another City Hall annex, housing such agencies as the Solid Waste Division that are in leased quarters, Westbrook said.

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Here's a breif quote from www.downtownthisweek.com concerning the proposed restoration of the Ambassador Hotel, which is quietly proceeding through city hall.

"Last week the consent agenda for the Ambassador Hotel

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That is good news. I was wondering about that building near Hemming Plaza. I was hoping that it would become lofts or a museum or something. But City Hall needs the space. (Hopefully the City Hall Building on Bay Street will come down!) Speaking of museums, is there a historic architecture museum in downtown? Showing the great works of Kluthko?

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That is good news. I was wondering about that building near Hemming Plaza. I was hoping that it would become lofts or a museum or something. But City Hall needs the space. (Hopefully the City Hall Building on Bay Street will come down!) Speaking of museums, is there a historic architecture museum in downtown? Showing the great works of Kluthko?

This is why I'm pissed Laura Place hasn't gotten off yet. Right now there is not a historic architecture museum in the city, but there is one that is supposed to be developed inside of the Laura Place project, that will showcase the works of Klutho.

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That would be awesome. The Laura Place buildings were his designs, weren't they? I would love to see that happen, soon. Museums help make downtowns a "destination" place. With more museums, you could spend an entire Saturday there. That = more retail/restaurant customers.

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^yes, two of the three (the two highrises) were designed by Klutho. A museum would, at that site, would be a wonderful addition to that area of downtown. Hopefully, Laura Place will get underway soon.

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