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This building at 20 W. Adams St. could be housing for Florida State College at Jacksonville students.
Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Nov. 17, 201512:00 PM EST

FSCJ's new plan for student housing

College focusing on 20 W. Adams St. instead of Church Street site
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

Florida State College at Jacksonville is not giving up on its plan to provide housing for students near the college’s Downtown campus along State Street.

Representatives of the school and Bethesda, Md.-based Profit Investments, owners of 20 W. Adams St., are scheduled to present a redevelopment and incentives plan Wednesday to the Downtown Investment Authority.

The project, estimated at $6.2 million, would renovate the building to create housing for 60 students on the second through sixth floors and a full-service restaurant on the ground floor that would be operated by students in the college’s culinary arts program.

Profit Investments did not return phone calls for comment about the project.

The developer and FSCJ are seeking from the city up to $1.2 million for the student housing plan: $600,000 from the Downtown Historic Preservation and Revitalization Trust Fund and two low-interest loans totaling no more than $600,000 from the Northbank Tax Increment Finance Trust Fund.

The historic preservation funds would be used during the construction phase to restore the exterior of the building and preserve some architecturally significant elements inside the structure.

The loans would be used by the college to offset the management and maintenance costs of the housing units.

The college in July proposed development of the building at 218 W. Church St. for student housing. The proposal also included buying 502 N. Hogan St., which would have been used for the restaurant.

That plan was abandoned.

“The numbers just didn’t work out,” said college spokeswoman Jill Johnson. “We’re moving to a different building but with the same concept. This is a better opportunity.”

The floor plan design for 20 W. Adams St. isn’t finished, but Erin Richman, FSCJ’s executive director of institutional innovation, said the plan is to build four-bedroom suites with private sleeping rooms and a central living room, bathroom and kitchen.

Students will pay $735 per month, including rent, utilities, television service and Wi-Fi.

Richman said that’s “right in line” with what students pay for housing at the University of North Florida.

The building opened in 1911 as the headquarters of the Southern Drug Co. The Lerner Shop occupied the ground floor from the 1940s until the late 1980s.

The building has since been empty.

Some interior demolition and electrical system improvements, as well as installation of new windows were completed from 2003-08. During that time, the building was being considered by a previous owner for renovation into apartments with a restaurant on the ground floor.

The developer is confident the housing component of the FSCJ project can be completed by August, meaning the first students would move in before the college’s fall term begins, said Richman.

It could be the first of several similar projects to provide housing in the Downtown neighborhood for the college’s students.

“We’re in the process of cultivating some other opportunities,” Richman said.

Assuming the authority adopts the resolution in favor of the redevelopment agreement and incentives and sends the proposal to City Council for final approval, the college’s board of trustees is scheduled to review the proposal when it meets Nov. 24.

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