Public comments on First Guaranty Trust & Savings building
City Council heard public comment Tuesday regarding the potential historical designation of the First Guaranty Trust & Savings building, setting the stage for next week's committee hearing on the Downtown issue.
The public hearing on the ordinance that would designate the building, also known as the "jaguar building" and Bostwick Building at 101 E. Bay St., a historic landmark had five speakers.
Those in favor of designating the building historic, which would prevent the building's demolition, generally spoke of the building's significance in Jacksonville history and described a need to preserve it.
"Great cities preserve their heritage," said Chris Flagg, an architect and Downtown Vision Inc. board chair.
Flagg said the City should try to "maintain as much of the historic fabric as we can."
DVI Executive Director Terry Lorince questioned what could be done with the building if it was to be torn down, as she said the space and location excluded it from options such as parking, a gas station or multiuse building.
"There aren't a whole lot of other options," she said.
Val and Karl Bostwick represented First Guaranty Trust & Savings as the building's owners and opposed the designation. Val Bostwick said the question of landmark status should be for a property's ownership to decide and discussed its structural problems he said would cost in excess of $1 million to repair. He said the associated costs make it economically unfeasible for the owner and a buyer to undertake.
He said the asking price of the building is $325,000, even though the City appraised it last year for $352,000.
Asked by Council member Greg Anderson whether there was a firm offer on the property, Val Bostwick said no.
"We are willing sellers," Val Bostwick said. "We will look at any reasonable offer."
In addition, the building continues to accrue daily City fines of $100 because it is not up to code.
The Bostwicks invited Council members and others to take a tour of the building and see its state, which several Council members already have done.
The City's Historic Preservation Commission in September denied an application for the Bostwicks to demolish the building, then filed for its historic landmark designation, citing it met six of seven criteria to be deemed historic. The Bostwicks appealed the commission's decision on the demolition permit.
Public hearings for land use and zoning issues have stacked in recent months and both the landmark designation and appeal to demolition are scheduled to be heard Tuesday by the Council Land Use and Zoning Committee.