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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Jun. 29, 202207:20 PM EST

JWB buys two city blocks Downtown from First Baptist Church

The real estate company purchased the parking garage and the church’s former main auditorium for $8.39 million. 
by: Mike Mendenhall Associate Editor

JWB Real Estate Capital bought two First Baptist Church of Jacksonville properties in Downtown’s North Core for $8.39 million.

Property records show JWB subsidiaries bought two city blocks from First Baptist on June 24 — a church auditorium at 119 W. Beaver St. for $2.3 million and a parking garage at 712 N. Hogan St. for $6.09 million.

The deeds were recorded June 29 with the Duval County Clerk of Courts.

JWB bought the Hogan Street site through 712 Hogan St N LLC and the Beaver Street property through 119 Beaver St W LLC. Each is 1.53 acres.

JWB bought these properties in the Downtown Jacksonville North Core for $8.39 million. (Google)

The deeds show the companies are based at JWB’s corporate office at 7563 Philips Highway, Suite 208.

JWB President Alex Sifakis did not respond immediately to a request for comment June 29.

According to the Duval County Property Appraiser, the 119 Beaver St. auditorium, built in 1995, is 103,016 square feet.

First Baptist is selling property while it upgrades other facilities at its Downtown campus.

The church completed nearly $1.8 million in interior renovations in March 2021 to the 900-seat Lindsay Memorial Auditorium at 125 W. Ashley St.  That is across the street from the auditorium it sold.

The parking garage was built in 1989, according to the property appraiser’s website. 

The former First Baptist Church auditorium at 119 Beaver St. sold for $2.3 million.

Records show DPL Lending Fund LLC issued mortgages June 24 for the 712 N. Hogan St. and 119 W. Beaver St. properties for almost $6.7 million ad $2.65 million.

Adam Rigel signed the mortgages. He is CFO and a partner in JWB Real Estate Capital.

In the past two years, JWB purchased multiple Downtown properties.

The company paid almost $7 million for The Greenleaf Building at 208 N. Laura St. in June. 

On Feb. 24, JWB bought 119 and 129 W. Adams St. for $1.2 million. The vacant building previously was home to Breezy Jazz Club and Scottie convenience store. They are in the same block as The Greenleaf.

The company bought and began work on renovating the Porter Mansion at 510 N. Julia St.

JWB owns the historic Seminole and is working on a mixed-use apartment, restaurant and entertainment project that includes the Federal Reserve building at 424 N. Hogan St. and the Baptist Convention Building on the same block at 218 W. Church St.

Away from the North Core, it built the Ashley Street Container Lofts at 412 E. Ashley St.

While JWB continues to buy property, First Baptist Church is continuing to sell parts of its Downtown campus.

Since First Baptist abandoned its plan in August 2020 to sell a majority of what was an 11.29-acre, 1.5 million-square-foot Downtown campus and consolidate operations into the Hobson Auditorium and a few other buildings, the church has been selling parcels and buildings to developers piecemeal.

The parking garage at 712 N. Hogan St. sold for $6.09 million.

A spokesperson for the church said in an email June 29 that Senior Pastor Heath Lambert and Executive Pastor Coty Hoskins were out of the office until early July and unavailable for comment.

In January, the church sold its five-story “lighthouse” parking garage at 721 N. Pearl St. to JWB for $5.924 million to serve its residential, retail and restaurant developments underway in the North Core.

That followed JWB’s purchase in March 2021 of a warehouse at 331 W. Ashley St. from First Baptist for $652,500. 

At the time, JWB allowed the City Rescue Mission and the nonprofit Changing Homelessness to use the warehouse as a temporary shelter. 

Sifakis said JWB is exploring turning the 22,035-square-foot space into a food hall and entertainment space.

In February 2020, the church sold nearly a full city block bounded by Beaver, Julia, Ashley and Hogan streets to EJPC LLC, which is controlled by investors Jim and Ellen Wiss, for $1.13 million.

The Wisses have plans to restore and incorporate two historic buildings on that property into a $55 million, 184-unit mixed-use residential project called The Den.

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