Jessie Ball duPont Center nearly full six months before opening

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Six months before its April opening, the Jessie Ball duPont Center already has commitments from 11 nonprofits to lease office space in the former Haydon Burns Public Library.

The organizations will occupy a total of 54,518 square feet of space on the three above-ground floors. The only remaining available spaces are two small offices above ground and space in the building’s basement.

The building was purchased in 2013 by the Jessie Ball duPont Fund with the intent to create a working and gathering space for nonprofit organizations.

”I’m delighted,” said Jessie Ball duPont Fund President Sherry Magill. “One never knows how something like this will go.”

United Way of Northeast Florida will be the largest lessor in the building. Michelle Braun, president and CEO, said the most attractive reason to move the staff of about 75 people from Riverplace Tower to the center is the proximity to other nonprofits.

“The spirit of United Way is working with partners. We are anxious to move in,” she said.

Part of the business plan for the revitalization of the building is to make the office space available to nonprofits at below-market rent to allow the agencies to devote more resources to programs and services.

“We can help stabilize operating budgets by driving down the rent expense,” Magill said.

After more than 20 years in office space on the Southside, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Florida is moving Downtown.

“We’re going to save a good deal of money over the 10-year lease,” said the agency CEO Warren Grymes. “The money we save will be re-invested into programs to serve more children.”

Grymes and his staff are looking forward to working Downtown and in the same building as several partner agencies.

“Downtown is the epicenter of the city and there is a vision for redevelopment. We’re glad to be part of it,” he said.

Braun also cited the financial consideration.

“We’re getting Class A space at a Class B price,” she said. “That will allow us to save some money and put as much as we can toward services.”

In addition to offices, the renovation includes a conference center with a 148-seat lecture hall, 12 meeting rooms, event and reception space and public spaces.

“The center is built with tenants and the public in mind. It was the public’s library for 40 years and we want it to continue to be accessible to the public,” said Magill.

Tenants prepared to sign final lease agreements are:

• Baptist Health’s Office of Social Responsibility

• Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Northeast Florida

• Catholic Charities

• The Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center

• Do Something Great Today Foundation

• Family Foundations

• Jacksonville Public Education Fund

• Jessie Ball duPont Fund

• Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida

• United Way of Northeast Florida

• One other nonprofit not ready to announce it is moving into the new building

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