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Jax City Council Committee Votes To Buy Haverty Building

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Kevin Meerschaert

The Jacksonville City Council Finance Committee voted unanimously on Tuesday to have the city purchase the Haverty's Building, now known as the Jake Godbold Building, from the Police and Fire Pension Fund (PFPF).

The city gave the building to the Fund in 2006 after renovating it to reduce the city's pension obligation and forgive debt owed.

As part of the deal, the city leased the building for city office space. It currently houses the Public Defender's office.

But the lease is expensive, currently at $1.3 million, and will continue to rise. It would cost the city nearly $100 million through the end of the 40 year lease.

But the deal also gives the city a window every 4 years to the purchase the building. The set price would be about $14.2 million.

The city must give PFPF notice of option within 90 days of May 1st, and must close within 90 days of giving the option to purchase notice.

The Council wants to issue bonds to pay for the building. In using the money that would have gone to the lease to instead pay off the bonds, the city would be clear by 2027. It would cost about $20 million including interest.    

That means by 2027 the city would have paid off the building, spending $20 million instead of continuing the lease until it expires in 2058. If they city does that, it would spend over $98 million and not own the building.

The full city council will vote on the proposal May 28.

Kevin Meerschaert has left WJCT for new pursuits. He was the producer of First Coast Connect until October of 2018.