Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Tunes Up River City Band Bailout; Mayor's Office Works on Final Contract Details to Take over Group's Headquarters

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Tunes Up River City Band Bailout; Mayor's Office Works on Final Contract Details to Take over Group's Headquarters

Article excerpt

Byline: MATT GALNOR, The Times-Union

Jacksonville is finalizing a $1.7 million proposal to bail the St. Johns River City Band out of debt on its half-renovated, historic downtown headquarters.

The city would pay $800,000 to finish work on the building, take over a $650,000 loan and pay off the approximately $250,000 in liens placed on the property because the band couldn't pay contractors. The city would then own the building and could lease or sell the former church to a developer or move a city department into the building, said Susan Wiles, Mayor John Peyton's chief of special initiatives and communications.

Peyton's office is working out the final contract details. Any proposal would need to be approved by the City Council. Wiles said no decision has been made as to when the proposal will go to the council.

The band in 2000 used a $650,000 loan to buy the Snyder Memorial building, a Gothic-style former church at Laura and Monroe streets built in 1903. The city helped secure the loan with Oceanside Bank in Jacksonville Beach.

The band, with about 30 musicians, performs at city and community events and also runs honor bands for middle school and high school students.

Mike Davis, the band's executive and musical director, said he hadn't received a contract in writing from the city and couldn't comment on the details.

"I know the city and the band have always worked together, and there will be a solution," Davis said.

The band has put about $800,000, mostly from historic preservation grants, into renovating the building but has yet to make a payment on the loan. The city has delayed collecting for the past three years.

Last month the band was forced to move into an Arlington strip mall after it ran out of money to pay an electrical contractor and the power was shut off. …

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