Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Council Decision Nears for LaVilla Townhome Plan; Some City Council Members Question Whether Townhomes in the Area Could Sell at Prices Starting at $180,000

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Council Decision Nears for LaVilla Townhome Plan; Some City Council Members Question Whether Townhomes in the Area Could Sell at Prices Starting at $180,000

Article excerpt

Byline: MATT GALNOR, The Times-Union

The Jacksonville City Council will be asked Wednesday to sign off on city incentives for townhomes in LaVilla that will sell for $180,000 or more.

Three council committees approved the project this week, after months of delays, but some on the council are wondering whether the market is right for townhomes that expensive for a part of town where the city has plenty of cleaning up to do.

The 32-unit development is planned for the former Winn-Dixie site off Beaver and Union streets, just west of downtown.

The city would sell the land to the developers for $455,532 -- about $4 per square foot. That's half the cost the city paid to buy the land and prepare the site for development. The city would also pay for $320,000 worth of improvements, including roadwork, landscaping and historic lighting.

The $6.2 million project has been in the works for two years, the last few months of which have included a back-and-forth between developers and Councilman Reggie Fullwood, who represents the area.

Fullwood questions whether the market exists for this type of housing now in LaVilla and disputes the "affordable" tag developers have placed on it.

"I'm not convinced it's the right location or the right product," said Fullwood, who added he'd likely vote against it.

The land is just a few blocks from the new Duval County Courthouse, scheduled to open in 2007.

Developers Richard Danford and Carlton Jones say Fullwood is making the matter personal and is deliberately standing in the way.

Following a Finance Committee meeting Monday, Danford filed a police incident report saying Fullwood verbally threatened him in a hallway.

Danford, who is also president of the Jacksonville Urban League, said that he's trying to bring home ownership options to the area and that the project would complement the high-rise apartments and upscale condos on the other end of downtown. …

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