The Jacksonville City Council approved legislation to allow the sheriff’s office to lease 58,959 square feet of space in the 20-story Florida Blue office tower to house its Homeland Security Division.
Council voted 16-0 on Sept. 12 to sign off on Ordinance 2023-494, which includes a 149-month lease in the high-rise at 532 Riverside Ave. to acquire what Division Chief Steve Gallaher told Council is a need for more space for its growing staff that would allow it to leave its aging office building at Beaver and Liberty streets.
Council members Rory Diamond, Tyrona Clark-Murray and Ju’Coby Pittman were absent for the vote.
According to the legislation, JSO would be charged $20 per-square-foot annually by Florida Blue for office space in Downtown’s Brooklyn neighborhood and another $6 per square foot for 3,567 square feet of garage space.
There would be a 3% annual escalation rate and two five-year renewal options.
Gallaher said during the Sept. 5 Council Neighborhoods, Community Service, Public Health and Safety Committee meeting that a market analysis obtained by JSO shows the agency will be paying $2 to $4 per square foot below the market rate for commercial office space Downtown.
“The rate is very favorable (and) the terms are very favorable,” he said.
JSO’s Homeland Security Division is at 711 N. Liberty St., north of the Police Memorial Building and Duval County Jail.
Property records show the two-story, 41,438-square-foot city-owned building was built in 1927.
Gallaher told Council members the office has had air conditioning issues for years. The division, which includes JSO special operations, narcotics and vice, has 205 employees and is projected to grow to 250 within 10 years.
According to Gallaher, its current space can hold 135 staff members and the division is renting other off-site locations to hold its remaining personnel.
The legislative fact sheet filed with the bill says JSO would lease the first, ninth and 10th floors of the Florida Blue building.
Florida Blue would provide the city and JSO a $3.45 million tenant improvement allowance, and the landlord would build-out the space at a cost not to exceed $5.45 million.
The lease would require JSO to contribute $1 million to tenant improvements. That money was included in JSO’s fiscal year 2022-23 budget.
The bill summary filed with the legislation says the lease will become active in fiscal year 2023-24, and the cost is factored into the city budget scheduled for final approval Sept. 26.