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Investors Buy Part Of First Baptist Church Property With Plans For $25 Million Project

Jacksonville Daily Record
Investors Ellen and Jim Wiss bought First Baptist Church property in the block bounded by Ashley, Hogan, West Beaver and North Julia streets.

Buyers of a nearly full city block of the First Baptist Church’s Downtown campus could invest $25 million for a mixed-use development at the site.

Jim and Ellen Wiss see Downtown Jacksonville “at the edge of a resurgence” and they’re not done acquiring property in the urban core, according to WJCT News partner the Jacksonville Daily Record.

EJPC LLC paid $1.13 million Feb. 15 to buy a portion of the church’s land bounded by Beaver, Julia, Ashley and Hogan streets. They bought two buildings — a four-story, about 20,000-square structure built in 1954 and a two-story, 10,000-square-foot building built in 1947.

EJPC is looking at adaptive reuse for the two-story building but has no plans yet for the four-story structure. 

The purchase is a result of First Baptist’s decision in September to downsize its 13.7-acre Downtown campus in response to declining church attendance and a growing multimillion-dollar maintenance bill on its aging 1.5 million-square-foot property.

Jim and Ellen Wiss are co-managers of EJPC. They said Feb. 18 they are working with church leadership to close on the remaining property within 60 days. That will total 1.38 acres to complete the purchase of the block.

Jim Wiss said they plan to move quickly to plan and build 200 apartments on the site “with the full amenity package” and retail space.

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