Update on the Cathedral District-Jax (CD-J)
The primary goal of CD-J is to establish a neighborhood full of life…feet on the street so to speak. This vision is modeled on the medieval cathedral, which was the center of village life, the source of education, art and worship. The Cathedral District will be an ecumenical village with many places of worship in its center—a leafy green historic neighborhood with places to shop, eat, play and pray. Building a “sense of place” is demonstrated by people of all walks of life living in a neighborhood they cherish and are proud to boast about. In economic development terms, residential is the start to retail—retail follows rooftops. The Master Development Plan for the Cathedral District shows a residential spine on Duval and Church Streets and retail growing north on Market Street.
You may remember from our first Progress Report in February 2017 that we were working on our first “Catalytic Project” for the Cathedral District. Well, with many miracles, prayers, and lots of support we closed on the 1.52-acre block, formerly known as the YWCA buildings, Friday, March 30, 2018 (coincidentally or more miraculously on Good Friday). It happened because of a very supportive Vestry, the CD-J Board (particularly our Chair Steve Kelley and Treasurer John Sefton), the Bishop and multiple pro-bono attorneys. The block is immediately east of the Cathedral bounded by Shields, Church, Liberty and E. Duval Streets. CD-J purchased the land through a very flexible lender, the Episcopal Church Building Fund. Our immediate goal is to build approximately 115 apartments for mixed-income (market rate and workforce) with a private developer.
The negotiations for this purchase spanned 18 months. The project had what I’d call “a lot of hair” on it: liens, state and city deed restrictions, historic preservation restrictions, special guarantees required, one foreclosure in process and then environmental problems on the site. Talk about big bag of trouble! But, we were the only bidder on the land; and we have a vested interest in control of the land and its future—the land is less than 30 feet away from the Cathedral. Our great thanks to Joanna White and Bobby Brown, Foley & Lardner; Lawsikia Hodges, Deputy General Counsel for the City; Dan Bean, Holland & Knight and all the professionals who took a chance on us to wait to be paid until closing.
You won’t see much action on the property for about a year while we negotiate our way to the developer and their financing. But in future reports, we will keep you all informed of the progress.
Ginny Myrick CEO & President Cathedral District-Jax, Inc.
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