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TheUrbanCore

Marble Bank Trio Given to Pension Funds

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City to give buildings to Police and Fire Pension Fund

Stewart Verney

The Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Fund plans to redevelop three downtown buildings after the properties are turned over to the fund from the City.

Mayor John Peyton announced plans Wednesday to give the three buildings at the corner of Laura and Forsyth streets to the pension fund as part of the city's normal contribution to the fund.

The properties - the Bisbee, Florida Life and Old Florida National Bank buildings - are worth an estimated $3 million. Both the city and pension fund officials want to see the Bisbee and Florida Life buildings turned into residential developments.

The desire to see the two buildings turned into apartments or condos was one of the reasons the city terminated a development agreement with Signet Development. Signet had planned commercial uses for all three buildings.

Pension fund officials say they will hire an advisor to help them develop a master plan for the properties. The pension fund board recently approved a plan to make additional investments in real estate, said John Keane, executive director-administrator of the pension fund. The fund developed and owns its headquarters building downtown on Main Street.

"This gives us an opportunity to put some of our members money back into the continued development of downtown," said Keane. "We were one of the early pioneers in downtown's redevelopment."

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Sorry. I did not see that this was already posted. I for one think this is a good thing. In the daily today the funds say they will secure the structure and then fast track the redev. The lerner got its $400k approved from the jedc too. That block will change rapidly. More announcements on the way I'm sure. Hope you guys make it thru Charley unblemished.

Have a great weekend. Tony

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Partnership may develop Laura trio

by J. Brooks Terry

Staff Writer

For the better part of a year, developer Mike Langton intended to answer a Request for Proposals to redevelop the Marble Bank, Florida Life and Bisbee buildings.

Making those plans moot, however, was Mayor John Peyton

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I really think that with this new cooperation, the project will be a succss. I'm glad they're using Bob Broward too. I tihnk he was a student of Klutho, or something like that....

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This deal is starting to worry me a little. Having just read the article yesterday about the Shipyards fiasco, doesn't help.

First, from reports last week, there seems to be a discrepancy on whether the Pension Fund will receive the $3million that Signet was going to get for this project. The Fund seems to think they will get that money, but a number of city council members and the DDA seem to think the money is back up for grabs. Why would something as significant as $3million not be spelled out in the agreement Peyton made with the Fund?

If Signet walked away from the deal with $3million on the table, will the Pension Fund be able to do the project if it doesn't get the $3million?

Signet and Mike Langton seem to be angling to partner with the Pension Fund on this project. From the article above, it appears that assessments of the building conditions may be used as leverage. Something tells me that the Pension Fund might do their own assessments, rather than commiting to either party immediately. Needless to say, doing a new assessment will add to the timetable.

It also bothers me that the Fund apparently doesn't seem to KNOW ANYTHING about the current condition of the buildings. What buyer would make a public commitment without such knowledge? Some of the statements in the article, coupled with the fact the Pension Fund doesn't have a long history of real estate projects, sounds errily similiar to TriLegacy (Shipyards developer).

It seems to me, that Signet should provide any information they have about the condition of the buildings to the city at no charge. After all, they have tied up the buildings for many months, while they deteriotated further.

Of course, the mere fact that Signet walked away from a deal with the city, rather than renegotiate for residential use, is itself a red flag.

This project should be priority number ONE for the city. The JEDC and Peyton should have their best people on getting these buildings stabilized and rehabed ASAP. Is it really that difficult to put a tarp over a hole in the roof? These building are too important to lose.

I hope my fears are unfounded, but we shall see.

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Laura Trio deal draws support

by J. Brooks Terry

Staff Writer

The City Council may take emergency action next week authorizing the City to transfer ownership of three historic buildings downtown to the Police and Fire Pension Fund.

Council auditors said the Fund wants to get the Bisbee, Marble Bank and Florida Life buildings on their books before the end of the fiscal year.

In exchange, Fund administrator John Keane said the building

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With all due respect to our council people the costs are inherently prohibitive. Its called saving a historic structure. Its expensive. Get over it. Go with my three meaningful reasons to give incentives:

1. Save a Historic Building

2. Create Jobs

3. Create Affordable Downtown Housing

You could do all three with these. Concentrate on that and make a plan. If its expensive its probably worth it like the Vestcor deals. They may have been expensive, but they are a proven winner.

We're funding un-needed parking garages, stadium improvements, and art galleries and 3 of the most significant buildings in FLORIDA HISTORY, not just Jacksonville are sitting, waiting, crumbling. It seems like excuses are being pre-made.

It cannot be a bottomless pit. Nothing in development is infinite with a plan (even a courthouse). It bothers me to the core that these buildings could sit there and decompose until Dec of 2005.

The ghosts of these buildings will haunt Signet and the funds if they are not done. Lets not erase more of Jacksonville's history.

Hope to see you guys at the Brooklyn metting tonight at 6:30 at Haskell.

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Like UrbanCore, I am also concerned about the cautious comments in the Daily Record article. Does anyone know the square footage of these buildings?

As far as covering the costs, I know there are grants available from the state for historic preservation. The city received a state grant for the restoration of city hall (St. James building). Also, there are federal tax credits available as well.

If these buildings are ever fully completed, it will be one fine day indeed!

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I have beem watching this development for quite a while now.It is discouraging to me to watch these buildings fall farther down on peoples priority lists.After Signet dropped to ball here it seems that the Mike Langton group would have been the choice for the city to go with since was he had the next in line(and better in my opinion) proposal.Seemingly,he would be the one to already have things in place to go forward with the project.The city gives the poperty to the Pension Fund and now the buildings may sit till the end of 2005 before any real work is done to save these buildings.Am I missing something here or does the city not have a clue on this?

Springfield since 1998

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Langton should have gotten a crack at it and the funds have said "if" they develop it they'll use Langton. That is a very large "if", but its encouraging.

What everyone should realize is that the land is probably worth the $3mm by itself. So if they let these HUGE PIECES OF FLORIDA HISTORY fall to the ground or demolish them, they've got a nice piece of downtown dirt. Don't let them lull you to sleep like Signet. If you do you'll be awoken with "The buildings are in too far gone, we'll have to demolish for public safety..."

This SHOULD not be an option while the buildings are still able to be saved. This city is going to need activists downtown or we'll continue to demolish historic structures, do terrible deals with ZERO accountablility, and give land away under the table.

Who is with me?

In this spirit, I encourage all to watch the old library very very closely.

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I agree with Urban Core. The scenario he sketches out is very likely in my opinion. Paralysis by analysis is seemingly setting in on this project.

Has there been any comment from the Jax Historical Society? I'm a member, I think I will write a letter to them. Has Suzanne Jenkins, Elaine Brown, or any other pro-downtown city council members said anything on this issue. I would be curious as to their opinions.

As I have said before, I am in agreement that Mike Langton should have been given a shot at this project.

P.S. Welcome to the forum 93sportie!

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