The Jacksonville City Council awarded $669,581 in taxpayer loans Feb 8 to JWB Real Estate Capital for its renovation of the historic Porter House Mansion Downtown.
Council voted 16-0 to approve a mix of forgivable and deferred loans from the city’s Downtown Preservation and Revitalization Program.
The Downtown Investment Authority Board signed off on the terms of the deal in August.
JWB, led by President Alex Sifakis, paid $2.6 million in August 2020 for the three-story historic structure at 510 N. Julia St. that was built in 1902.
The company plans to lease 4,300 square feet in the basement to a restaurant/retail operator and make 10,000 square feet available on the upper three floors for lease to a single office tenant after what the bill summary says will be a nearly $3.1 million renovation.
Sifakis told the Council Finance Committee on Feb 1. that he expects improvements to the mansion will be completed by the end of summer 2022.
Sifakis explained why the company is investing nearly $60 million in development and $14 million in equity for projects in Jacksonville’s Urban Core and in Arlington.
Investing in the Urban Core
JWB’s core business is single-family rentals. Sifakis said the company is using profits from that venture to reinvest in the Urban Core.
Sifakis said JWB sees the future of the core as important for the city to attract “young talent” that companies want to hire.
“We do that for two reasons. One, because we do think it’s going to be an amazing long-term investment. But the other reason is because we think it’s very important for Jacksonville’s future that we have a vibrant urban, walkable Downtown,” he said.
In addition to Porter House, those investments include the mixed-use renovations of the historic Federal Reserve Bank Building at 424 N. Hogan St. and the Florida Baptist Convention Building at 218 W. Church St.
Sifakis said Feb. 1 that cost increases made those projects a $21 million redevelopment.
In January, the company bought the five-story “lighthouse” parking garage at 721 N. Pearl St. from First Baptist Church of Jacksonville for $5.924 million.
It also purchased a warehouse at 331 W. Ashley St for $652,500 from the church in March 2021.
JWB is also spending money in Downtown’s LaVilla neighborhood. The company’s partnership with Corner Lot Development LLC secured a deal with the city to acquire 3.45 acres next to Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing Park for an estimated $18 million, 91-town house project whose units would be for sale.
In August, JWB bought a two-story office building and parking lot on 1.45 acres at Monroe and Davis streets. for $2.5 million.
In December, it bought a 1.37-acre vacant lot at Jefferson, Forsyth, Houston and Broad streets for $1.5 million to hold for development.
In Arlington, JWB is working on an estimated $25 million face-lift of College Park, the former Town & Country Shopping Center, at 903 University Blvd. that includes apartment construction.
The mansion deal
The Porter House incentives include a $277,186 Historic Preservation Restoration and Rehabilitation forgivable loan; a $258,479 Code Compliance Renovations forgivable loan; and a $133,916 Downtown Preservation and Revitalization Program deferred principal loan.
The forgivable loans will mature in five years, and the principal will be forgiven at a rate of 20% per year.
The deferred principal loan will mature 10 years from the date of disbursement.
Council member Ron Salem abstained from the vote Feb. 8 because of investments he has in JWB-linked projects.
Council member Garrett Dennis was absent for the vote.
Sifakis’s Downtown investment estimate did not include preliminary plans for a $40 million mixed-use, 160-unit residential building he told the JAX Chamber Downtown Council in May the company wants to build next to Porter House.