ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

partly-cloudy-tstorms-day
64°
Mostly Cloudy
H 76° L 60°
  • partly-cloudy-tstorms-day
    64°
    Current Conditions
    Mostly Cloudy. H 76° L 60°
  • cloudy-day
    71°
    Afternoon
    Mostly Cloudy. H 76° L 60°
  • cloudy-day
    66°
    Evening
    Partly Cloudy. H 74° L 63°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

News
The big price tag you pay for Jacksonville-owned vacant land
Close

The big price tag you pay for Jacksonville-owned vacant land

The big price tag you pay for Jacksonville-owned vacant land
Photo Credit: Stephanie Brown
This area is occassionally open for the public

The big price tag you pay for Jacksonville-owned vacant land

More than one year since I first started asking the City of Jacksonville how much vacant land it owns, I’m finally getting answers.

It’s been a long journey since I first learned Jacksonville didn’t have an accurate grasp of how much property it owned, how much was vacant, or the value of it all. At that time, the city was putting together the outline for a project to change that- getting a private company to inventory and assess all the land, determine potential future use and install a software system which would maintain the rolls moving forward.  The price tag that was set for the project, $150,000, proved to be too low for the scope of the project, however, with both bids that were submitted not stacking up to what was asked.

So Public Works began tackling the inventory portion in house.

“We were able to assign kind of an all-hands on deck assignment for this project,” says Public Works Director Jim Robinson.

The inventory was completed at the end of August, and I’ve now gotten my hands on the full list.

Just over 2800 parcels of land are listed under Jacksonville ownership. Robinson says just over 300 are actually JEA properties, bringing the total portfolio of Jacksonville-owned land to 2,515- with a current market value of just over $1.5 billion.

While the total inventory is not far from what you could find through a search of the Property Appraiser's records, a distinction made for the first time with this list is how much of that real estate is vacant.  395 of those parcels are considered by the city to be lazy assets- parcels that are vacant or underutilized and have potential future use, like for economic development, commercial investment or government facilities.

The market value on those “lazy” parcels listed on the spreadsheet I obtained from the city stands at nearly $125 million. Robinson preferred not to give a total until more work is done to get an accurate evaluation of the current state of the property and other related questions, so that led me to search the Property Appraiser’s website to see how the numbers stacked up to the list generated from the city a little over one month ago.

Of the dozen or so properties I searched, many had a market value on the website, which is updated daily, actually higher than what was listed on the spreadsheet. For example, the old County Courthouse has a market value of $17,766,056 according to the city spreadsheet. The market and assessed values according to the Property Appraiser’s website on Sunday list the courthouse as $18,452,566 under the confirmed 2012 pricing or $17,986,000 under the 2013 evaluation still in process. This means the price tag on the vacant properties could be even higher than what the list reflects- the exact value is part of what the city will continue to work to determine. During that process, it's also possible the city will argue a property is less valuable than the listing, possibly relating to a lack of maintenance. Essentially, while this market value listing gives a good working figure, there is likely some give in either direction.

I asked Robinson whether he was surprised to see the real estate portfolio- which many officials had before now only described as “vast”- have only 400 properties that could hold future development options.  He tells me he was not surprised at all.

“It really proves that we’re the largest park system in the country as far as real estate is concerned,” he says.

A large portion of the portfolio that is not "lazy" is park or preservation land. I also see significant portions of land set aside for drainage, wetlands, environmental concerns, ponds or other natural occurrences that prevent development.  While some of these parcels, and many others on the roll, are considered vacant, the city has determined they have no future development value.  Robinson declined to comment on whether the city has all the resources it needs to maintain this land, deferring the question instead to Parks and Rec. 

The remaining portion includes small pieces of land that hold no development potential, like right-of-ways, as well as buildings that are in use daily- from fire stations to the new courthouse or City Hall.

Breaking down the vacant or underutilized parcels, you again see some buildings or areas that are widely known- like the Snyder Memorial building or Jacksonville shipyards.  Many of the properties, however, are residential plots which have come to city ownership through tax reversion or a similar process. Robinson says many of these residential plots are dedicated for public housing, meaning there’s a potential they won’t actually wind up on commercial tax rolls at any point in the near future.

In all, the acreage of the vacant or underutilized land amounts to under 1% of the city’s entire portfolio, but the value makes up more than 8% of the portfolio.

And that value comes back to your wallet, because these are parcels of land owned by the city and therefore not putting any money on the tax rolls. In addition to the one-time money that could be gained from a sale, there’s also the potential continued infusion of tax money if the property goes in to private hands. Other options on the table include renting some of the properties- which again, could provide a continued revenue stream- or even leaving the parcel as it is.

But despite taking a significant first step, the timeline for getting the rest of the project done- and therefore deciding what to do with these vacant properties- is still up in the air. Coming up Tuesday on WOKV News I’m breaking down the road still to go to free up the city’s vacant investment.

Read More
VIEW COMMENTS

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post your thoughts. or Register.

The Latest News Headlines

  • At 24-years-old, a Jacksonville man faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a potential lifetime of supervision, after being indicted by a federal grand jury. According to a release from the United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida, Pryce Demars is accused of distributing child porn over an 8-month period.  Court documents show FBI agents and local officers executed a search warrant of his home last Wednesday, in connection to a child exploitation investigation into a particular file-sharing program.  The FBI says Demars distributed videos of young children being sexually abused, claiming he admitted in an interview that he searched for the porn, downloaded it, and then distributed it to another individual in exchange for video games and other items.  His trial has been set for January 2, 2018.
  • The United States is seeking restitution on top of forfeiture money from former Rep. Corrine Brown. Prosecutors filed a new motion on Tuesday as a judge weighs Brown's sentence. The government is asking for a total of $1,179,459.25. The motion states: 'The United States moves this Court, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 981(a)(1)(C), 28 U.S.C. § 2461(c) and Fed. R. Crim. P. 32.2(b)(2), to enter an order of forfeiture in the amount of $664,292.39, representing the amount of proceeds the defendants obtained, directly or indirectly, as a result of participation in a conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and aiding and abetting mail and wire fraud.  'The United States also seeks an order of restitution in the amount of $452,515.87 as to Counts One, Two, Four, Six through Thirteen, Fifteen and Seventeen, and $62,650.99 as to Counts Twenty-One through Twenty-Four, for a total restitution of $515,166.86.' READ THE FULL MOTION HERE . In May, Brown was found guilty on 18 counts in a federal fraud trial. Last week, Brown’s former chief of staff Ronnie Simmons and Carla Wiley, the president of One Door for Education, the charity they’re all accused of stealing from, appeared in federal court for their sentencing hearings . During the hearing, Brown tearfully asked for mercy. The Middle District of Florida, in a sentencing memorandum involving Brown, said “significant punishment” is required for the former Florida congresswoman. Brown is set to be sentenced in December. #ANJaxBreaking: Prosecutors just filed new motion as judge weighs # CorrineBrown's sentence. Seeking restitution on top of forfeiture money, totaling $1,179,459.25. Expect sentence Dec. 4. @ActionNewsJax pic.twitter.com/KmdrPpAKrq — Jenna Bourne (@jennaANjax) November 21, 2017 New Documents: U.S. wants another 555k in restitution from Corrine Brown and Carla Wiley, Now totals $1.1 million. The fmr. Congresswomen, her Chief of Staff Ronnie Simmons and Wiley are set to be sentenced Dec, 4th @ActionNewsJax pic.twitter.com/NPLqRwHY6r — Paige Kelton (@PaigeANjax) November 21, 2017
  • More than 30 women who worked with Sen. Al Franken on “Saturday Night Live,” defended the embattled lawmaker in an open later Tuesday, writing that while working with him “not one of us ever experienced any inappropriate behavior.” >> Read more trending news The women, including former SNL cast members Jane Curtin and Laraine Newman, writers and producers, wrote that they felt “compelled to stand up for Al Franken” in the wake of allegations that he forced himself on Los Angeles news anchor Leeann Tweeden in 2006. Franken apologized after Tweeden made her allegations public last week in a blog post for KABC. >> Related: Sen. Al Franken accused of kissing, groping news anchor without consent “What Al did was stupid and foolish, and we think it was appropriate for him to apologize to Ms. Tweeden, and to the public,” the letter said. “In our experience, we know Al as a devoted and dedicated family man, a wonderful comedic performer, and an honorable public servant. That is why we are moved to quickly and directly affirm that after years of working with him, we would like to acknowledge that not one of us ever experienced any inappropriate behavior; and mention our sincere appreciation that he treated each of us with the utmost respect and regard.” Franken worked on “Saturday Night Live” as a writer and a featured player from 1977 to 1980 and from 1988 to 1995. Tweeden said last week that she was forcibly kissed by Franken, who was a radio host for Air America at the time, and groped in her sleep during a USO tour in 2006. She shared an image of herself sleeping as Franken’s hands hovered over her chest as evidence of the incident. Franken apologized and called for an ethics investigation into the incident. 'I don't know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn't matter,' Franken said in a statement released Thursday. 'There's no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn't funny. It's completely inappropriate. It's obvious how Leeann would feel violated by that picture.' A second woman came forward Monday, accusing Franken of groping her as they posed for a photo at the 2010 Minnesota State Fair. >> Related: Sen. Al Franken accused of groping woman in 2010 Lindsay Menz told CNN that Franken, “pulled me in really close, like awkward close, and as my husband took the picture, (Franken) put his hand full-fledged on my rear.” In a statement to CNN, Franken said he didn’t remember taking the photo but that he felt “badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected.”
  • Update 4:40 p.m. Nov. 21: The House Ethics Committee has started an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Michigan Democratic Congressman John Conyers at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s urging. Update 2:30 p.m. Nov. 21: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called for an ethics investigation Tuesday after allegations of sexual harassment surfaced against Rep. John Conyers, the longest-serving member of Congress. 'As members of Congress, we each have a responsibility to uphold the integrity of the House of Representatives and to ensure a climate of dignity and respect, with zero tolerance for harassment, discrimination, bullying or abuse,” Pelosi, D-California, said in a statement. “As I have said before, any credible allegation of sexual harassment must be investigated by the ethics committee.” Conyers, D-Michigan, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he was unaware of any allegations that he acted inappropriately toward women. BuzzFeed News reported Monday that Conyers’ office paid a $27,000 settlement in 2015 to a woman who claimed she was fired from the lawmaker’s office because she refused his sexual advances.  Original report: U.S. Rep. John Conyers denied on Tuesday that he’s settled sexual harassment complaints by staff members in the wake of a report that his office paid a former female employee $27,000 to settle a harassment-related wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015. >> Read more trending news Conyers, D-Michigan, told The Associated Press that he was unaware of any allegations that he has acted inappropriately toward women. He told the news wire that he only learned of the BuzzFeed News report that detailed the complaints on Tuesday morning. A woman told BuzzFeed that she filed a wrongful dismissal complaint against Conyers in 2014 after he fired because she would not 'succumb to (his) sexual advances.' >> Related: Sen. Al Franken accused of kissing, groping news anchor without consent The case was settled in 2015. The woman, who was not identified, signed a confidentiality agreement and was rehired as a temporary employee with no job responsibilities. Over the course of three months, she was paid $27,000, BuzzFeed reported. Documents from the case included signed affidavits from four other former Conyers staff members who said the lawmaker 'repeatedly made sexual advances to female staff that included requests for sexual favors, contacting and transporting other women with whom they believed Conyers was having affairs, caressing their hands sexually and rubbing their legs and backs in public.' >> Related: Sen. Al Franken accused of groping woman in 2010 House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, called the BuzzFeed report “extremely troubling” and reiterated that a review of House of Representative workplace harassment and discrimination policies was underway. Ryan announced last week that the House of Representatives was implementing a new mandatory anti-harassment and anti-discrimination training policy for members and staff. “Additional reforms to the system are under consideration as the committee continues its review,” Ryan said Tuesday. “People who work in the House deserve and are entitled to a workplace without harassment or discrimination.”  >> Related: George H.W. Bush accused of groping woman while in office Since 1997, Congress’ Office of Compliance has paid federal employees $17.2 million to settle complaints of employment rule violations, including complaints of sexual harassment, The Washington Post reported. The $27,000 paid to Conyers’ former employee in 2015 is not among those numbers, as the funds came from the representative’s office budget, according to BuzzFeed. Conyers, who was first elected in 1964, is currently the longest-serving member of Congress, with 52 years of service. He is the second sitting senator to face accusations of inappropriate conduct toward women. A woman on Monday accused Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, of groping her as they posed for a photograph together at the 2010 Minnesota State Fair. Franken, who was accused last week of forcing himself on a Los Angeles news anchor in 2006, assumed office in 2009.
  • If you are traveling this holiday weekend you have probably already mapped out your route, but do you know the best time to leave so you can avoid the Thanksgiving rush? With Thanksgiving being the most traveled holiday of the year, at times it can feel like everyone who is traveling is in front of you as you sit in slow-moving traffic.So, when is the best time to leave to get a jump on traffic in your area? Google’s here to help. The search engine has designed a chart based on travel data collected during last year’s Thanksgiving holiday. It used the information to determine the best times to leave certain metropolitan areas to avoid the heaviest traffic. Here are the best and the worst times to travel from major U.S. cities for Thanksgiving. Atlanta – Best: 4 a.m. Wednesday; Worst: 3 p.m. Wednesday Boston – Best: 3 a.m. Wednesday; Worst: 3 p.m. Wednesday Charlotte – Best: 4 a.m. Wednesday; Worst: 4 p.m. Wednesday Chicago – Best: 3 a.m. Wednesday; Worst: 4 p.m. Wednesday Cleveland – Best: 4 a.m. Wednesday; Worst: 4 p.m. Wednesday Dallas – Best: 3 a.m. Wednesday; Worst: 3 p.m. Wednesday Denver – Best: 3 a.m. Wednesday; Worst: 3 p.m. Wednesday Detroit – Best: 3 a.m. Wednesday; Worst: 4 p.m. Wednesday Houston – Best: 3 a.m. Wednesday; Worst: 3 p.m. Wednesday Los Angeles – Best: 4 a.m. Wednesday; Worst: 4 p.m. Wednesday Miami – Best: 4 a.m. Wednesday; Worst: 4 p.m. Wednesday Minneapolis – Best: 5 a.m. Wednesday; Worst: 4 p.m. Wednesday New York – Best: 4 a.m. Wednesday; Worst: 4 p.m. Wednesday Orlando – Best: 4 a.m. Wednesday; Worst: 4 p.m. Wednesday Philadelphia – Best: 4 a.m. Wednesday; Worst: 4 p.m. Wednesday Phoenix – Best: 3 a.m. Wednesday; Worst: 3 p.m. Wednesday Pittsburgh – Best: 5 a.m. Wednesday; Worst: 4 p.m. Wednesday Portland – Best: 3 a.m. Wednesday; Worst: 4 p.m. Wednesday Raleigh – Best: 4 a.m. Wednesday; Worst: 4 p.m. Wednesday Sacramento – Best: 3 a.m. Wednesday; Worst: 4 p.m. Wednesday San Francisco – Best: 3 a.m. Wednesday; Worst: 4 p.m. Wednesday Seattle – Best: 4 a.m. Wednesday; Worst: 4 p.m. Wednesday St. Louis – Best: 5 a.m. Wednesday; Worst: 4 p.m. Wednesday Tampa – Best: 4 a.m. Wednesday; Worst: 4 p.m. Wednesday Washington DC – Best: 3 a.m. Wednesday; Worst: 3 p.m. Wednesday

The Latest News Videos