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Douglas Anderson School of the Arts is renovating its campus.

$16 million upgrade for Douglas Anderson School of the Arts

By Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

Douglas Anderson School of the Arts is preparing for a $16 million addition and renovation that will boost its capacity by 158 students.

Principal Jackie Cornelius considers it the biggest improvement since a $13 million project 13 years ago that continued to transform the school building, constructed in 1922, and help to produce the award-winning programs that place it in the national spotlight.

“We’re on go,” Cornelius said Thursday afternoon, explaining the design will meet the needs of the students in the school’s programs and coordinate the campus.

She said it would aesthetically tie “everything together so it is not a hodgepodge.”

“It’s meeting the needs of the program and the students. That’s No. 1,” she said.

Cornelius, who eagerly shares her enthusiasm for the school, joined Douglas Anderson in 1988 and was named principal in 1996.

Douglas Anderson has a capacity of 1,169 students. The addition will boost that to 1,327.

The school consistently ranks among the top three Duval County public high schools on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

Construction should start in May and be completed in July 2015.

The St. Johns River Water Management District is reviewing plans for a two-story classroom building on the 12-acre site at 2445 San Diego Road.

Plans filed with the district show the addition of the classroom building and new student and staff parking lots, pickup/drop-off lane, service yard,

chiller yard, covered and uncovered walkways and a decorative pavement area for gatherings.

Duval County Public Schools is the project applicant. Hanson Professional Services Inc. of

Jacksonville is the engineering consultant and Bhide & Hall Architects of Orange Park is the architect.

Spokeswoman Tia Ford said the project is being funded by a Certificate of Participation bond, which has been completed.

The project consists of:

• A new 61,519-square-foot building to include 13 classrooms, seven science labs and a cafeteria with an additional outdoor dining area.

• Renovations and remodeling of 8,507 square feet of space that includes remodeling the existing cafeteria into a dance studio with dressing and storage rooms; remodeling the existing four science rooms into two general classrooms, one custom and lighting lab and one computer lab; and heating and air conditioning upgrades.

• Existing campus site improvements and upgrades that include removal of the 13 portable classrooms; the addition of new emergency shelter space in the cafeteria area for more than 300 occupants; a new chiller/mechanical building for the new building; and drainage improvements.

The school opened as an arts school in 1985, attracting students with talents in dance, instrumental and vocal music, theater, creative writing and visual arts. Students audition to attend.

A $6 million project was completed in 1991-92, followed by the $13 million project in 2001 and now the $16 million upgrade.

According to the waymarking.com site, the Duval County Board of Public Instruction opened the building in 1922 as South Jacksonville School No. 107.

It was the only public school on the south side of Jacksonville for African-American children in first through ninth grades.

The site said black community leaders Douglas Anderson (1884-1936) and W.R. Thorpe (1893-1967) led efforts to build the school. In 1945, the school board renamed the school the Douglas Anderson School.

It became a high school in 1955 “and quickly became an educational and cultural center for African-Americans from communities all over southeastern Duval County,” said the site.

The school closed in 1968 as a result of school desegregation, then served as a campus for Florida Junior College (now Florida State College at Jacksonville) and as a seventh-grade center.

It re-opened in 1985 as the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts.

RaceTrac plans Blanding site

The convenience-store competition continues ramping up. Atlanta-based RaceTrac Petroleum plans a 6,000-square-foot store at 8108 Blanding Blvd. Connelly & Wicker Inc. is the consulting engineer. The St. Johns River Water Management District is reviewing plans.

The 6,000-square-foot prototypes feature not only gas pumps and typical convenience fare, but also outdoor seating, Wi-Fi, an extended coffee bar, the “Swirl World” frozen yogurt area, hot meals and soon, made-to-order food, and more amenities.

Assisted-living facility planned in St. Augustine

A 42-bed assisted-living center called The Legacy at St. Augustine is planned at 3552 N. Ponce de Leon Blvd. in St. Johns County. The St. Johns River Water Management District is reviewing plans for the project, shown on 2.66 acres. F&J Arguilla Properties is the applicant and land owner. The agent is Westmoreland Construction LLC.

kmathis@baileypub.com

@MathisKb

(904) 356-2466

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