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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Mar. 23, 202204:50 AM EST

Council to consider $1.2 million incentives request for new W.W. Gay headquarters

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The mechanical contractor intends to lease the $15.31 million project on its campus in Northwest Jacksonville.
by: Mike Mendenhall Associate Editor

Florida Mechanical Systems Inc. has requested $1.2 million in city incentives to build a new headquarters for W.W. Gay Mechanical Contractor Inc., an affiliated company,  in Northwest Jacksonville. 

City Office of Economic Development materials show the proposed $15.31 million, 49,200-square-foot office and administrative building will be developed at 524 Stockton St.

That is where W.W. Gay is based. It will lease the new structure built on the campus to replace its corporate headquarters damaged by fire in August 2020. 

The Mayor’s Budget Review Committee voted 7-0 on March 22 to allow the economic development office to file legislation with Council to authorize a $500,000 Large Scale Economic Development Fund Grant to support the project. 

Florida Mechanical Systems also asked the city for a Recapture Enhanced Value Grant, a property tax refund, capped at $700,000 that would also require Council approval. 

The city’s project summary dated March 7 says W.W. Gay would be the primary tenant in the office building, and it does not identify other possible users. 

According to the summary, W.W. Gay President and CEO Paul Jones also is president of Florida Mechanical Systems, described as a privately held property and rental management, crane and mechanical equipment rental and fleet management business established in 1968.  It owns the property where W.W. Gay is located.

The Stockton Street property is in a city-designated Level 2 Economically Distressed Area in the Rail Yard District, and the summary says the incentives would keep W.W. Gay based in Jacksonville.

“The costs associated with constructing the building within an urban infill site is designed to meet the current building code and accommodate the needs of W.W. Gay to serve as their corporate headquarters,” the project summary says.

“W.W. Gay desires to remain a tenant within FMS’s 20-acre campus.”  

A cost breakdown in the city summary says it will cost $10.46 million to build the two-story headquarters, $1.44 million for renovations to existing site infrastructure, and $622,700 to develop the site. 

W.W. Gay will invest about $2.37 million in furniture and fixtures. The summary shows $420,836 in the development budget as a contingency.

The new headquarters also could allow W.W. Gay to expand. 

The contractor told the city it will create 60 jobs with an $83,700 average wage plus benefits by Dec. 31, 2028, in exchange for the incentives deal, adding $5 million to the company’s payroll per year, according to the summary. 

The commercial, industrial and engineering contractor was founded in 1962 and has more than 600 employees in Jacksonville. 

W.W. Gay said in March 2021 that it has 1,200 full-time employees companywide and had gross revenue in 2020 of $243 million. 

The company worked on the Fidelity National Information Systems Inc. headquarters development on Riverside Avenue in Brooklyn.

The Stockton Street development has to be a minimum $10 million capital investment to qualify for the 50%, 10-year REV Grant, the city summary says.

The $500,000 cash grant would come from the Northwest Jacksonville Economic Development Fund. 

Economic development office officials estimate the city would receive a $1.34 return for every $1 of public money invested in the project. 

Legislation could be filed with Council as early as March 30. 

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