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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Apr. 12, 202209:08 PM EST

City Council approves in-kind lease for new DVI headquarters

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The nonprofit Downtown advocacy agency plans to build-out a vacant space in the city’s Duval Street Garage.
by: Mike Mendenhall Associate Editor

The Jacksonville City Council voted unanimously April 12 to approve an in-kind lease agreement with Downtown Vision Inc. to move the nonprofit’s headquarters to office space in the city’s Duval Street Garage.

In a 17-0 vote, Council approved the 10-year deal  for DVI to lease the 20,660-square-foot ground-floor space 33 W. Duval St. 

DVI’s offices now occupy a corner retail space at 214 N. Hogan St. in the city’s Ed Ball Building.

Council Vice President Terrance Freeman and member Ju’Coby Pittman were absent for the vote. 

The city built the six-level Duval Street Garage in 2005 with office or retail space on the ground floor. Downtown Investment Authority Operations Manager Guy Parola told the Council Neighborhoods Community Services, Public Health and Safety Committee on April 4 that the space has not been occupied. 

The DIA board signed off on the lease agreement in November and again in February to make minor revisions. 

The city agency did not receive private market interest in November when it issued a 30-day notice of disposition for the retail space. 

Parola said April 4 that independent real estate brokers and DIA board members say it is difficult to attract foot traffic to the location.

“The trouble with this space, quite frankly, is it’s not on a retail corridor. It’s on a one-way street and it just doesn’t have a lot of visibility unless you have a need to go there,” Parola said. 

The DVI was created in 2000 to provide advocacy and services to a business improvement district in a half-square-mile area of the Downtown core. Its boundaries have been expanded to 1.3 square miles on the Northbank and Southbank.

Its Downtown Ambassadors greet visitors and are assigned to help to keep the area clean and safe.

DVI levies a 1.1-mil tax assessment to most property owners in its boundaries to fund its annual budget which was $2.514 million in fiscal year 2021-22.

The 10-year lease comes with two five-year renewal options and DVI will not pay rent. Instead, it will report the value of the services the nonprofit renders to the city. 

A DIA term sheet filed with the Council bill, Ordinance 2022-0173, “will provide services, funding, or other value to Downtown Jacksonville equal to a minimum of $337,670 annually in excess of any City contribution to DVI reflected in DVl’s annual budget.”

The term sheet says the leasable space is appraised at $14 per square foot. The city’s in-kind lease terms assume rent would be $289,506 and annual operating costs estimated at $48,164. 

Plans show an eventual entry hall, a retail use where DVI plans a Downtown merchandise store, restrooms, a meeting room, training space, a break room, offices, an open work area and more.

Gordon told Council members April 4 he hopes plans for the retail space, which Gordon called a Downtown welcome center, will “invigorate that corridor.”  

The bill also approves an agreement that will reimburse DVI for up to $2.21 million in build-out costs approved as part of the city’s fiscal year 2022 Capital Improvement Plan. 

Gordon said April 12 that DVI recently completed a request for quotations that led to the nonprofit to select a short list of prequalified contractors comprising Auld & White Contracting LLC; Scherer Construction of North Florida LLC; and Meyer Najem Construction to provide pricing and construction schedule for the project.

 With the approval by Council, Gordon said DVI can move forward with those final estimates over the next month.  

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