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Jax Daily Record Monday, Jun. 24, 200212:00 PM EST

Courthouse designs expected this week

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Here’s an update on the $2.2 billion Better Jacksonville Plan projects, which were funded by a half-cent sales tax increase approved by voters in September 2000:

Baseball park

The $34 million, 10,000-seat ballpark is scheduled to be complete in time for the Jacksonville Suns to open the 2003 season in April. Ground was broken on the ballpark late last year. Infrastructure work began in March and the park actually came out of the ground in May. The demolition of Wolfson Park is scheduled for shortly after the end of the season. Renderings of the new park can be found at www.betterjax.com.

Arena

According to the Downtown Development Authority’s website, the $130 million, 16,000-seat arena will be open in summer 2003. The Kansas City-based architectural firm, HOK, is designing both the ballpark and the arena, which will reflect the ballpark’s Camden Yards-like external appearance with a state-of-the-art interior. A rendering of the new arena can be found at www.betterjax.com.

Libraries

The first ground breaking for a branch library was April 9 at the San Marco Branch Library Renovation. The project connects with the new Balis Community Center. The $1.8 million project is funded by the Plan and a donation from Balis family of San Marco. The library’s reopening is expected in spring 2003. A story, photo and artist rendering can be found on www.betterjax.com. Demolition will start soon on buildings at the site of the $95 million downtown library, possibly this week. The new facility will be directly east of Hemming Plaza and is scheduled to open in late 2004. When available, artist renderings will be posted on www.betterjax.com.

County courthouse

The $211 million facility is scheduled for completion in 2005. Four architectural firms will make public presentations at the University of North Florida Tuesday and the formal announcement will be made Thursday. All four models will be on display Thursday and Friday at City Hall in the Renaissance Room. Once an architect has been selected, renderings will be available at www.betterjax.com.

Resurfacing

As of the end of last week, 643 miles of streets have been resurfaced so far and Mayor John Delaney personally paved a portion of the 500th mile on Duke Road in early May.

Sidewalks

So far, 25 miles of new or repaired sidewalks have been poured with 150 miles being the ultimate goal. Citizens should call 630-BJAX with questions about sidewalks and streets. Two nice ladies will help you with your questions and if they don’t know the answer, they’ll find out and get back to you.

Parks

To get the status on the 86 park improvements funded by the Plan, go to www.betterjax.com.

Northwest economic

development

Development of Hope Plaza in the North Planning District is moving forward. Site demolition of the Moncrief Plaza retail/commercial center and Chase neighborhood is complete. This work is being funded in part by the Plan and money from the Northwest Jacksonville Economic Development Fund, overseen by Ros Phillips, project manager for the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission.

Zoo

The “Range of the Jaguars” exhibit, a $10 million project, is projected to open in spring 2004. The ground breaking took place last month and is also being funded by over $2 million in private donations and other fund raising efforts.

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