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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Aug. 15, 201905:00 AM EST

Bids opened for historic National Guard armory

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One Jacksonville-based company and two South Florida-based companies submitted bids.
by: Katie Garwood Staff Writer

B & H Fine Foods, a grocery store company from Boca Raton, was among three companies submitting bids for the former Florida National Guard armory on the northeastern edge of Downtown.

The names of the bidders were read at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Ed Ball Building. The bid amounts were not read and can remain secret for up to 30 days, or when a bid is selected.

B&H Fine Foods operates Howard’s Market at 6060 SW 18th St. in Boca Raton. The grocery’s website says it was established in 1986 and offers catering, a deli, a bakery, seafood, produce and more.

Also bidding was REVA Development Corp. of Fort Lauderdale and Arkest LLC of Jacksonville.

According to its website, REVA supports artists, families and small businesses through “a comprehensive approach to housing and economic development within neighborhood revitalization programs.”

REVA says it has built more than 1,400 housing units, including new construction, rehabilitation and historic re-use projects. It’s also completed commercial and retail properties.

Arkest is an architectural and development firm headed by CEO Rafael Caldera. In June, the company proposed to the Downtown Development Review Board a mixed-use, multifamily housing project with a ground-level art gallery and studio space in the Cathedral District. 

The three-story, 80,826-square-feet armory building at 851 N. Market Street was build in 1908 and designated a local historic landmark in 2001. It has been vacant since 2010.

On July 3, the city published a request for proposals seeking bids for the 2.02-acre armory site with the option of also developing the adjacent 2.97-acre property at 928 N. Liberty St. The three stucco warehouses on the North Liberty Street property – which the city’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services department has been using for storage – have 21,594 square feet of usable space.

The North Market Street property is valued at $2.8 million, and the optional property at North Liberty Street is valued at $653,600, according to the Duval County Property Appraiser. 

The RFP stated the city also would consider a long-term lease with a developer.

The initial due date for the sealed bids was 2 p.m. July 31, but was extended to Aug. 14. City Assistant Director of Public Affairs James Croft didn’t indicate the reason for the extension.

This isn’t the first time the city has attempted to redevelop the property. In 2011, the city sought ideas for redevelopments from nonprofits. A plan to turn it into a museum moved forward until an opposing party of four nonprofits proposed an art education center and gallery. The council couldn’t reach an agreement, and the legislation was withdrawn. 

The following year, the city considered using the site as a homeless center, but ultimately failed to gain support from then-Mayor Alvin Brown and the Emergency Services & Homeless Coalition of Northeast Florida. 

Exterior Realty Inc. also responded as a no-bid. 

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