Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

For Old Main Library, Third Time May Be the Charm; after Two Bow-Outs, JEDC May Ask Main Branch LLC to Develop the Old Main Library Site

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

For Old Main Library, Third Time May Be the Charm; after Two Bow-Outs, JEDC May Ask Main Branch LLC to Develop the Old Main Library Site

Article excerpt

Byline: JOE LIGHT

The future of the city's old Main Library is still up in the air, as officials from the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission confirmed that they might negotiate with Main Branch LLC to redevelop the 1960s-era building into a mixed-use facility to include condominiums, retail space and a grocery store.

JEDC officials had originally said the city would use the library for storage and temporary employee offices before attempting to sell it again in a year.

City officials requested bids to redevelop the site in June after relocating the Main Library to a new building off Hemming Plaza. Five developers competed for the property, but a city committee awarded negotiation rights to The Atkins Group, which proposed demolishing the building and erecting a development with condominiums and retail space in its place.

Disagreements over financing torpedoed that arrangement in November last year, and JEDC executives moved on to runner-up Peterbrooke Chocolatier, which hoped to purchase the library for $1.5 million and renovate it to include a chocolate factory and other candy-related items. But when Peterbrooke officials discovered the high cost of removing asbestos and other environmental hazards from the site, they also bowed out.

Second runner-up Main Branch LLC had an offer on the table to purchase the library for $3.25 million and add two floors to the existing structure for condominiums and retail. But on the day that Peterbrooke withdrew, city officials announced their intention to keep the library for city use and possibly request new bids next year.

That changed when the public works department indicated it might not need the space after all.

Executives from the JEDC and Main Branch met on Wednesday to discuss the city's current needs, said JEDC Executive Director Ron Barton. …

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