With the number of buildings Jacksonville owns that are currently not getting put to use, Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown will not support building another.
“The last thing we need is another massive new government building costing millions of dollars,” he says.
Brown is responding to a proposal City Councilman Clay Yarborough plans to put forward at Tuesday’s City Council meeting which would outline building a new Supervisor of Election’s Office at a city plot of land on the corner of State Street and I-95, in LaVilla. The cost of construction would be capped at $8 million. Yarborough told WOKV the upfront cost is high, but between saving rent that is paid in the Gateway office and selling the current downtown office, it would save in the long run and provide a space for decades.
Brown told me, not only was he unaware that such a proposal would be made, but he says it actually works against the interest of tax payers.
“We should be using the LaVilla project to go back on the tax rolls,” he says.
Because the land is city-owned, there is no tax money collected off it right now. Putting it back in to private hands would give the city money from the sale as well as tax revenue again.
WOKV has continued to investigate Jacksonville’s stock of vacant city owned land and property, and found the process to sell off the land is currently stalled. Given that, I asked Brown just how reasonable it is to expect the land to sell, and he says there is “a lot of interest.”
One of the initial buildings under consideration was the Yates building, but that has some physical challenges for the Supervisor’s Office like a lack of elevators and loading dock. Brown says that is just one of the options getting examined by city staffers right now, and if that doesn’t work they will continue to look for a building that does. I asked him how much money he would be willing to commit to fixing up a city-owned building to make it a suitable site for the Supervisor’s Office. He told me he will wait to see the options and then decide from there.