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Jax Daily Record Friday, Nov. 17, 201706:50 AM EST

Report: Government is dominant Downtown landowner

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More than half the property in urban core exempt from taxes.
by: Monty Zickuhr Managing Editor

Government is the dominant landowner and user in Jacksonville’s urban core, and most of the remaining property is owned by Duval County residents.

Those were among the findings of “Downtown Jacksonville: Our Assets and Opportunities,” a report released Thursday that was commissioned by the Jessie Ball duPont Fund.

“We need to understand the assets available as we envision Downtown’s future,” the report said, including which assets exist, how they are used, who owns them, what they are worth and where the opportunities are with vacant land and buildings.

The fund said it has a history of community revitalization.  “If Downtown is to reach its potential, we all must better understand the landscape,” it said in the report.

The report focused on Jacksonville’s Northbank from the Prime Osborn Convention Center to EverBank Field and from the St. Johns River to State Street. It did not include Brooklyn and the Southbank.

The report found that Downtown property carries a market value of $1.95 billion, but more than half of that value, $1.1 billion, is held in properties that are exempt from property taxes – mainly because they are government-owned.

The report also targeted what it called myths about Downtown, such as “buildings are all owned by out-of-towners,” “churches own all the land” and “there’s no place to park.”

 Among the findings:

  • 74 percent of Downtown property owners live in Duval County and 12 percent are from out-of-state.
  • 81 percent of the parcels Downtown are owned privately, but the government owns 55 percent of the acreage. Churches own 4 percent of the parcels and 6 percent of the acreage.
  • There are 21 parking garages and 132 surface lots, comprising 18,082 public spaces. 
  • 75 percent of Downtown property is in use, with government usage at 45 percent, office at 15 percent and parking at 13 percent. “Other” accounts for 23 percent.
  • There are 1,988 residential units Downtown, of which 1,250 are rentals.
  • 73 buildings are vacant, of which 62 are privately owned- and 50 are by local owners. Overall, 25 percent of the property  and 14 percent of the buildings Downtown are vacant.
  • 93 percent of vacant buildings are historic at 50 years old or older. 

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