The Jessie Ball duPont Center, the $20 million restoration project that will become an office and event space for nonprofit and philanthropic organizations, got a boost Thursday from the city.
Wearing a hard hat and speaking inside the former Haydon Burns Public Library along Ocean Street, Mayor Alvin Brown said the city will provide to the center’s future tenants up to 200 parking spaces in the Yates Building garage free for five years.
The former library was purchased by the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, which is financing the renovation and plans to open the new center by April.
“The foundation is making a $20 million investment and the city is making an investment,” Brown said.
“Every dollar that these organizations don’t have to spend on operating costs, such as parking, is a dollar that can go towards serving the people of Jacksonville,” said fund President Sherry Magill. “It is significant that we can drive down costs for the nonprofit sector.”
Brown also announced a new discount program for city employees who park in city-owned garages.
Assuming the legislation authorizing free parking for the center and the discount plan is approved by City Council, employees will receive a 50 percent discount on the monthly parking rate.
Duval County Tax Collector Michael Corrigan said the discount will be an asset for his staff who work Downtown and have to pay for parking, unlike their colleagues who work in the suburban tax collector branch offices, where parking is free.
The city offers parking in the Yates Building garage for $53.50 per month. Giving 200 spaces to duPont accounts for an in-kind value of $128,400 annually, $642,000 over the five-year proposed agreement.
There are 435 city employees parking in municipal facilities. The projected revenue impact of the 50 percent discount yields an annual reduction of $81,228 per year, said mayor’s office spokeswoman Kristen Sell.