Housing authority board OKs 3 public-private partnerships to build, rehab 789 units

The estimated $160.42 million investment includes a deal with LIFT JAX to acquire and renovate a city-declared nuisance property, Downtown East Apartments.

Downtown East Apartments, formerly known as Franklin Arms, at 888 Franklin St.
Downtown East Apartments, formerly known as Franklin Arms, at 888 Franklin St.
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The Jacksonville Housing Authority board voted unanimously Aug. 28 to enter three public-private partnerships expected to produce 789 new and upgraded affordable and low-income housing units for an estimated investment of $160.42 million. 

The deals include the 102-unit Downtown East Apartments in the city’s Eastside neighborhood deemed a nuisance property in August 2022 by the city.

The board agreed to enter into nonbinding memorandums of understanding with three development groups on three projects: Atlanta-based The Integral Group LLC; Miami-based Tre Bel Housing LLC; and the Jacksonville-based nonprofit community revitalization group LIFT JAX operating in the Eastside. 

“These three projects show just how public-private partnerships can deliver more affordable and low-income housing to the Jacksonville market,” authority Chairman Christopher Walker said in an Aug. 31 news release.

“I’d like to thank our development partners and JHA staff for all their hard work to bring these development projects to the board,” he said. 

• According to the release, the housing authority will partner with LIFT JAX to spend $11.5 million for renovations to the Downtown East Apartments, formerly known as Franklin Arms. 

The Downtown East Apartments was declared a public nuisance by the city last year after more than a decade of complaints.

The property at 888 Franklin St. is north of the Arlington Expressway and west of Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway. It was declared a public nuisance by the city last year after more than a decade of complaints, according to Daily Record news partner News4Jax.com. 

Property records show Flknarrs LLC, a subsidiary of Austin, Texas-based Knarrs Ventures LLC, owns the apartment building and 1.69-acre property. 

JHA will acquire the apartments for $8 million and spend an additional $2 million to renovate the property, the release said. The memorandum says LIFT JAX will invest $1.5 million in funds it received from the city for the project.

• The deal with Tre Bel would construct a 431-unit apartment building with a mix of market-rate and subsidized rents near the Interstate 10 and I-95 interchange in a $108 million project, the release said. 

JHA spokesperson John Finotti said in an email Aug. 31 the community will be at 7166 Ramona Blvd. and called Ramona Lofts.

The deal’s structure allows the JHA to earn income from the project that could be used to finance future projects, the release says. 

Westwood Apartments at 1171 Lane Ave. S.

• JHA and Integral Group plan to partner to acquire and renovate the 256-unit Westwood Apartments at 1171 Lane Ave. S. for $35.8 million, the housing authority said. JHA would then invest an additional $20,000 per unit, or $5.12 million, for property upgrades. 

JHA plans to issue essential function bonds, used by housing authorities to pay for the construction and substantial rehabilitation of affordable housing and government-owned community facilities, to finance the project. 

Housing Authority CEO Dwayne Alexander said in the release that the independent city agency is looking for “innovative ways of meeting the pressing need for affordable housing in Jacksonville.”

“We’re eager to finalize these agreements and bring these developments to the market,” Alexander said.



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