Vestcor Companies is again expanding its holdings in Downtown’s LaVilla neighborhood, buying a vacant property next to the Prime Osborn Convention Center on West Bay Street.
Vector purchased the 2.12-acre parcel for $2 million from Solomon Properties Inc. through VC Cathedral LLC, according to the Duval County Clerk of Courts. The deal closed Oct. 30.
Solomon bought the parcel for $250,000 in December 2012 from DFS Properties Limited Co. LLC.
Ryan Hoover, president of Vestcor subsidiary TVC Development Inc., said Monday that Vestcor had the property under contract for nearly two years and “had to make a decision.”
He said Vestcor does not have definite plans for the site, but its location next to the convention center and the Jacksonville Transportation Authority’s future Regional Transportation Center and headquarters was a factor in the decision, Hoover said.
The land is near Vestcor’s proposed 88-unit, single-family townhome development. The developer was awarded a bid by the Downtown Investment Authority in August to build the individual for-sale townhomes on city-owned property at Adams, Johnson, Lee and Forsyth streets. The homes will sell for $250,000.
The DIA has prepared a draft redevelopment agreement for the proposed townhome project and likely will file legislation this week for the City Council to consider the deal, according to a city document.
Terms of Vestcor’s pending agreement state the city will donate the townhome parcels to Vestcor, minus a $100 title transfer fee. The company has pledged $100,000 each for development of the LaVilla Heritage Trail and Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing Park in the neighborhood.
Vestcor’s portfolio in LaVilla has been growing since 2017, with an early emphasis on affordable and workforce housing projects. The 108-unit Lofts at Monroe at 906 W. Monroe St. opened in December; the affordable/workforce housing complex Lofts at Jefferson Station broke ground in October; and the Lofts at LaVilla was Vestcor’s first apartment project in the area.
The townhome project is market-rate, targeting what DIA and JTA officials called “the missing middle” price point in its LaVilla development strategy released in April.
Hoover said Monday that, after its Oct. 30 purchase, Vestcor is not seeking to buy additional land in the neighborhood.
“I think we have a decent amount in LaVilla,” he said. “There’s plenty for other people to come in and be successful.”
He said LaVilla is attractive for real estate investors and developers.
“There is still, obviously, an availability of land, and getting more residents there will help bring in opportunities,” Hoover said. “It’s an excellent location for residential, which will help get the commercial stuff going.”
Vestcor is active throughout Downtown, with its $30 million affordable/workforce housing Lofts at Brooklyn housing complex along Spruce Street between Stonewall and Jackson streets under development.
The DIA granted Vestcor development rights in August for the Lofts at Cathedral Ltd., an approximately 140-unit multifamily housing project in Downtown’s Cathedral District.
The 1.52-acre site is the former Community Connections building at 325 E. Duval St.