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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Mar. 10, 202109:42 AM EST

Interior demolition permit OK’d for former Community Connections building

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Developer Vestcor will not start the work until it decides on loan requests to the DIA.

The city issued a permit March 9 for Realco Recycling Co. Inc. to remove interior finishes at the proposed Lofts at Cathedral Downtown at 325 E. Duval St., but there are no immediate plans to start the work.

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

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

Realco Recycling is the contractor for the $198,000 project involving 37,000 square feet of space.

Ryan Hoover, president of Vestcor’s TVC Development Inc., said previously that the interior demolition would provide “a better idea of what we are working with on the inside for design.”

He said March 10 he cannot proceed with the interior demolition until Vestcor decides how to proceed with requesting assistance from the Downtown Investment Authority’s Downtown Preservation and Revitalization Program.

The structure is designated a local landmark.

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. 

Hoover said the company is looking into the historic grant program from the city and other options.

In August, the DIA board approved a $625,000 loan to Vestcor for the multifamily housing project, but that 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, but a competing project was chosen.

Hoover said the 2021 round is not part of the plan at this point. 

The development will have a mix of income requirements, but Hoover said he does not have that information.

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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