$2.4 million for Lofts at Cathedral apartments wins DIA approval

The Vestcor Companies plans to renovate and add on to the former Community Connections building Downtown, using more than $26 million in city and state financing.

The 120-unit mixed-income apartment project at 325 and 327 E. Duval St.
The 120-unit mixed-income apartment project at 325 and 327 E. Duval St.
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The Vestcor Companies Inc. is asking the city for nearly $2.4 million in forgivable and deferred principal loans for its proposed multifamily renovation of the former Community Connections/YWCA building in Downtown’s Cathedral District.

The Downtown Investment Authority board voted 5-0 on Dec. 21 to sign off on $2,398,400 in historic renovation incentives for what the developer has increased into a $39 million project at 325 and 327 E. Duval St..

Board member Braxton Gillam abstained from the vote due to a professional relationship with the developer.

If City Council approves the deal, the DIA resolution and term sheet show Vestcor will be receiving $26.18 million in public financing for the mixed-income housing Lofts at Cathedral project. 

The majority of the financing — $22,789,721 — will be generated by equity from Low Income Housing Tax Credits awarded by the state.

In 2021, the Florida Housing Finance Corp. awarded the Jacksonville-based developer $18.68 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits for the project — $1.868 million annually for 10 years.

Ryan Hoover, president of TVC Development Inc., part of Vestcor, said Dec. 21 that the state later awarded the project additional tax credits to account for rising construction costs. 

The DIA and city issued Vestcor a $625,000 Local Government Support Loan to make the project eligible for the tax credits.

The latest round of funding would come from the city’s general fund through the DIA Downtown Preservation and Revitalization Program:

• A $1,029,100 Historic Preservation and Rehabilitation Forgivable Loan.

• A $889,600 Code Compliance Forgivable Loan. 

• A $479,700 Deferred Principal Loan.

The DIA vote also reauthorizes the local government support loan and increases a city funding ceiling that was previously limited to $1.025 million in the original agreement. 

The city is also providing the project $235,200 in City of Jacksonville HOME program funds and $134,280 from the State Housing Initiatives Partnership program.

Built in 1949, the Community Connections building was part of the Florence Davis YWCA. City Council awarded the building local landmark status in June 2017.

Vestcor will also build an addition that connects to the historic structure to add density to the project.

The 120-unit housing project will have studio, one- and two-bedroom units, according to the report.

The staff report says Vestcor will reserve about 18 units for tenants earning up to 30% of area median income; 43 units for tenants earning up to 60%; 23 units for tenants earning up to 80%; and 36 market-rate apartments.

For example, units at 100% of the area median income would be for single tenants making up to $58,000 per year and up to $86,000 for a household of four.

Vestcor’s core business in the Downtown Jacksonville market in the past six years is low- to moderate-income housing that includes the Lofts at Brooklyn, Lofts at Jefferson Station and Lofts at LaVilla and the proposed Madison Palms multifamily developments.

Vestcor paid $1.4 million for the Community Connections building and adjacent property in September 2019 and February 2020 from Billy Goat Hill Inc., a subsidiary of the nonprofit Cathedral District-Jax Inc.

Vestcor bought the 1.25-acre property through VC Cathedral LLC, according to Duval County Clerk of Courts records.



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