FSCJ is preparing housing for fall; project also includes public café

Florida State College at Jacksonville's culinary café at 20 W. Adams St. will offer counter service to the public for breakfast and lunch five days a week.
Florida State College at Jacksonville's culinary café at 20 W. Adams St. will offer counter service to the public for breakfast and lunch five days a week.
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College students interested in living Downtown want comfortable furniture, neutral colors and the convenience of living near campus.

In turn, Downtown will gain almost 60 new residents who will patronize restaurants, stores and entertainment venues, and diners also gain a new cafe.

It is expected to come to pass by August.

“Students are very excited to live in the urban core near our Downtown campus,” said Chris Holland, Florida State College at Jacksonville vice president of student services.

The college intends to lease the historic Lerner Building at 20 W. Adams St. after Danis Construction LLC completes renovations for property owner and landlord Eugene Profit.

FSCJ is designing its Downtown housing to meet those student requests, as well as create another dining option with a ground-floor cafe open to the public.

Pending the construction timeline by the contractor and landlord, the college expects the 20-suite build-out and 90-seat restaurant to be completed for the fall class term.

The suites will comprise 58 rooms for rent. Of the 20, one will be for the director. Another will have four bedrooms and the other 18 will have three each.

If construction proceeds on pace, FSCJ anticipates an August move-in date for the term that starts Aug. 28.

Jill Johnson, FSCJ director of marketing and communications, said major naming opportunities are available for components of the building.

One already is committed. Philanthropist Jim Winston donated $100,000 in support of the cafe’s 12-seat private dining area, which will be called The Winston Room.

It will be available for meetings and community groups and will include technology capabilities for presentations.

At six floors, the building will feature five floors of housing and a ground floor to include the culinary café that will operate under the direction of the college’s Culinary Arts & Hospitality program.

The Downtown campus is four blocks away at 101 W. State St.

Holland said students are interested in the offerings Downtown, such as the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, restaurants and some of the after-hours places, as well as performance and sports venues.

They also are attracted to the Brooklyn area, which features several new restaurants and a Fresh Market grocery store near Downtown.

He said the college continues to plan some components of the project, considering the nuances of completing both the residences and the café.

Details, he said, range from signage to paint colors. In meetings with groups of students, the prospective residents said they liked a modern style, neutral colors and comfortable furniture.

Johnson said students thought looking good was nice, but comfort was critical.

The “farm to table” restaurant, which FSCJ would operate, will be open to the public and operate for breakfast and lunch five days a week.

The café will operate as a counter-service restaurant with seating for 90 in the main dining area.

While the public dining services will start with breakfast and lunch, the venue also will be available at nights and on weekends for private events.

Johnson said no dinner service is planned but FSCJ will have private catered events as an option to those interested.

FSCJ doesn’t anticipate taking student reservations for the rooms until April or May, concurrent with fall registration.

To be eligible, a student must be registered for class and commit to lease terms.

Students will be billed for the housing as they are for any services and they can use student aid, including scholarships, to pay for those services, Johnson said.

The suites contain a central living area and three similar-size bedrooms.

There is a separate apartment for the director, who will be a master’s level professional with a background in student housing and student development. The four resident advisers will live among the students.

Students will pay $750 to $800 a month but commit to the months of the class terms, making rental rates $3,300 to $3,700 per term.

Options also will be available for a year’s lease.

Each suite will have two bathrooms — a private one for one bedroom and another for the two other residents to share. There is a cost differential for the private bathroom.

The four-bedroom suite has two bathrooms.

FSCJ will provide basic furniture and a TV for the common area of the suites.

A Downtown student population also will need public transportation, Holland said, like the Skyway and buses. They also could make use of ride-sharing services –– and the city sidewalks as pedestrians.

Those with vehicles can choose to park in nearby garages. FSCJ will not provide subsidies but could work with some of the garages for access.

“The idea of walking around and taking advantage of public transportation is something that would be appealing to the students,” Holland said.

Johnson said no students shared concerns about safety issues. She said all students can use the FSCJ Safe app, which includes a virtual walk and access to security.

She said the free app, available to download on Apple and Android devices, offers real-time safety functions and features to help ensure the safety of those on campus at all times.

The Downtown Investment Authority anticipates a $6.2 million private capital investment to restore the Lerner Building.

Through the DIA, the developer was approved for $600,000 from the Downtown Historic Preservation and Revitalization Trust Fund to restore the exterior and some interior elements.

Another $600,000 is available for FSCJ in zero-interest loans over 10 years to cover any shortfall between the school’s revenues from student rentals and its financial obligations to the developer.

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