Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Council Looks to Purchase Historic Clay Property

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Council Looks to Purchase Historic Clay Property

Article excerpt

Byline: BETH REESE CRAVEY

The City Council is pushing full speed ahead on two fronts to buy the former CCAR Inc. complex off Martin Luther King Boulevard.

The Green Cove Springs landmark could be a springboard for community redevelopment, which was cited by a recent visioning report as crucial to the city's future, council members said.

With City Manager Don Bowles already preparing a request for a special legislative appropriation and grant applications for the purchase, the council on Tuesday directed staffers to research potential loan sources as well.

The urgency, said Mayor Bob Page, is to ensure the property, envisioned as a multi-use community center, does not end up in the hands of developers. A loan could snap up the property quickly, and be repaid by grant or state money that might come later, he said.

"I would like to explore how to make this happen quicker . . . rapid acquisition," he said. "It would be a tremendous accomplishment to get the community center project started."

The city's Visioning Committee, in a report presented to the council Dec. 6, said redevelopment was the "overriding important goal for the future of this city," particularly along major corridors. The 15-member panel recommended the city get there by, among other things, promoting a business-friendly environment, seeking commercial and industrial development and strengthening code enforcement and historic preservation.

The 4.5-acre Martin Luther King Boulevard property houses the Food Pantry of Green Cove Springs, the Clay County Police Athletic League and other service agencies and has a wealth of history. It was the homestead of a renowned black sculptor and a former high school for Clay County blacks. Saving the complex, and bringing in new tenants and jobs, would uphold several visioning recommendations at one time, council members said.

"It could become a keystone of beginning to rebuild the MLK corridor. It does a lot of things for us," Page said.

Other visioning recommendations the council plans to work on this year are creating development standards, a historic preservation ordinance, community beautification and streetscape initiatives, and establishing parts of the city as wireless zones. …

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