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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Jan. 6, 202105:20 AM EST

Initial work starting toward Lofts at Cathedral

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Developer Vestcor is looking at design plans as it arranges financing for the 120-unit project Downtown.

The city is reviewing a permit application for Realco Recycling Co. Inc. to remove interior finishes at the proposed Lofts at Cathedral Downtown at 325 E. Duval St.

It’s an early step toward Vestcor Inc.’s plan to turn the former Community Connections building into a multifamily project.

Ryan Hoover, president of Vestcor’s TVC Development Inc.

“We are just doing the interior demo so we can get a better idea of what we are working with on the inside for design,” said Ryan Hoover, president of Vestcor’s TVC Development Inc.

The permit application involves the “removal of interior finish systems to reveal structure for future design for building remodel for future use.”

Jacksonville-based Vestcor plans to construct 90 units and redevelop the Community Connections building to add 30 units. 

Vestcor bought the Community Connections building and 1.25-acre adjacent property in September 2019 and February 2020 for $1.4 million.

Hoover said the full project likely will start in 2022.

The project is expected to cost $28.8 million. 

Vestcor is arranging financing.

Hoover said the financing would comprise a first mortgage loan, a Downtown Investment Authority loan, tax credits and what it could qualify for under the city’s historic grant program.

In August, the DIA board approved a $625,000 loan to Vestcor for the multifamily housing project at 325 and 327 E. Duval St. 

DIA Marketing & Communications Specialist Ina Mezini said the deal was contingent on Vestcor receiving an allocation of 9% Low Income Housing Tax Credits from the Florida Housing Finance Corp. 

That required selection by the Jacksonville Housing Finance Authority under the Notice of Funding Allocation 2020-202.

Mezini said the authority chose a competing project, so the Lofts at Cathedral development is not eligible for funding through DIA as approved in August.

She said Vestcor affirmed its commitment to the project. “And the DIA is open to negotiating new terms for funding as may be necessary to bring this important housing development to the Cathedral District.”

Hoover said Jan. 5 Vestcor likely will try to finance as it previously planned, but it could make changes if needed. That includes seeking the tax credits in the 2021 round.

Vestcor told city officials it also plans to apply for a $400,000 grant from the city Historic Preservation Trust Fund.

The development will have a mix of income requirements. Eighteen units are reserved for tenants at 30% of the area’s median income, 39 units at 60% of the median income and 27 units at 80% of the median income. There will also be 36 market-rate units.

Hoover said there could be some changes over the next several months.

The Community Connections building was built in 1949. It was part of the Florence Davis YWCA and was awarded local landmark status in June 2017, according to the DIA. 

DIA awarded development rights to the Community Connections building to Vestcor in August 2019.

 

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