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Jax Daily Record Monday, Jul. 22, 201904:05 PM EST

Mayor’s Budget Review Board approves $2.6 million for Fire Station No. 5 purchase

If City Council approves the acquisition, three properties along Riverside Avenue bordering Fidelity National Financial’s Downtown campus will be primed for development.
by: Mike Mendenhall Associate Editor

The Mayor’s Budget Review Board unanimously approved allocating $2.6 million to purchase the Fire Station No. 5 property on Riverside Avenue from Fidelity National Financial Inc. 

The committee’s action Monday anticipates the proposal will make it through City Council approval. Council President Scott Wilson filed Ordinance 2019-527 Friday at the request of Mayor Lenny Curry to authorize money from the city’s debt management/loan repayment fund to buy the former fire station property at 347 Riverside Ave.

The council’s first reading of the bill is scheduled at its 5 p.m. Tuesday meeting at City Hall. The bill then will move to the Finance Committee and the Neighborhoods, Community Services, Public Health and Safety Committee before a final vote by the full council.

FNF took ownership of the fire station parcel in 2010 as part of a land swap deal with the city. The Fidelity companies share a Riverside Avenue campus. FNF, a Jacksonville-based provider of title insurance services, also owns the adjacent parcel to the north at Alfred Dupont Place. Those parcels total 1.21 acres.

The former Fire Station No. 5 on Riverside Avenue.

The potential sale of the fire station property coincides with a period of growth for Jacksonville-based Fidelity National Information Services, which was spun off from FNF in 2006. The company said it has at least 1,400 employees in Jacksonville and recently agreed to buy Worldpay Inc., an e-commerce and payments provider.

The city also is making land deals on Riverside Avenue that together with the fire station and Dupont parcels would clear 5.71 acres for development.  

The Downtown Investment Authority approved a deal with Florida Blue Inc. on June 19 to make its 4.5-acre riverfront surface parking lot bordering the two Fidelity properties available for development. 

When asked Tuesday if the pending fire station property sale and adjacent parcels are connected to development by FIS or other Fidelity-related companies, city Chief Administrative Officer Brian Hughes did directly address the connection.

The city also is making land deals on Riverside Avenue that together with the fire station and Dupont parcels would clear 5.71 acres for development.

“There’s conversations all the time with companies here in Jacksonville about opportunities to expand, build, attract more jobs and create more jobs,” Hughes said. Those things are always in a conversation. Anything that would allow development on the riverfront can ultimately be good for economic development.”

As for the fire station building, Hughes said the building has been considered a blighted building by the city since 2009 and is not registered a local historic landmark.

The fire station cannot stay on the site with the suggested roadway improvements, according the Hughes, and he said anyone interested in rehabilitation and moving the building from the site should contact DIA CEO Lori Boyer.

“There is a calendar ticking away, and if somebody wants to propose a plan that works in that time frame and has some money attached to it we’ll entertain it,” Hughes said.

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