Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry signed a bill Wednesday that provides tax breaks to a property ownership group that bought four low-income apartment communities.
The Millenia Companies purchased four apartment communities in 2018 - which were renamed Palmetto Glen, The Weldon, Valencia Way, and Calloway Cove – after the previous owner, the nonprofit Global Ministries Foundation, was forced to sell.
Millenia used a tax-exempt housing bond to finance more than $51 million in renovations across the four properties; including new flooring, walls, appliances and central air conditioning, according to WJCT News partner The Florida Times-Union.
“People’s lives have just been turned around because a whole bunch of people pulled together, all collaborated to make sure we got this right,” Curry said.
The bill is authorizing a Deteriorated Infrastructure Grant of $2 million. It would reduce Millenia’s property tax bill for the next decade, or until the money saved reaches $2 million.
Asked if the city should be concerned about the money lost from allowing the property tax cut, Curry was quick to respond.
“No,” Curry said. “The previous owners didn’t pay property taxes because they were a nonprofit…this new ownership group does pay property taxes. So this bill allows certain dollars of those property taxes to go back into the redevelopment and the refurbishing of gas lines in the apartments.”
City Councilman Matt Carlucci was at the bill signing. Carlucci said he first heard about the problems at Valencia Way when the gas lines had burst.
“The gas lines were so bad that they had to shut all of the gas lines off, which meant the parents could not cook for their children,” Carlucci said. “They could not give their children a warm bath. I was impressed with the way Millenia jumped on top of it.”
Carlucci also said the bill has language that requires a yearly inspection of the properties.
City inspectors will check the roof, plumbing, air conditioning, gas lines and more annually.
“Just like any home or apartment, you want to make sure utilities [are ok],” Carlucci said. “Those are things we take for granted. Lights coming on, turning on the heat, having hot water, a roof over your head that doesn't leak. Those are all things that need to be looked at every year.”
Carlucci estimates that the improvements made to the properties, along with future improvements made by the bill, will positively impact the 5,000 residents living in the four rental communities.
“Our next step is to keep reaching to those vulnerable neighborhoods with drainage septic tank remediation,” Carlucci said. “So the list goes on, but we got a good start.”
“This is a big day,” Curry said. “Representing one fragile idea that is one city, one Jacksonville.”