Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Groups Celebrate 50th Sold House; It's Part of a Community Redevelopment Effort to Boost Blighted Areas

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Groups Celebrate 50th Sold House; It's Part of a Community Redevelopment Effort to Boost Blighted Areas

Article excerpt

Byline: JESSIE-LYNNE KERR

From urban blight to a neat subdivision of newly built, energy-efficient homes, an area in Northwest Jacksonville was in a celebratory mood Wednesday with the closing on the 50th home in the area just south of Golfair Boulevard near Myrtle Avenue.

"Nifty Nifty, We've Sold Fifty" was the slogan of a mini-block party on West 33rd Street just off Myrtle Avenue.

Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton, on hand to commend the nonprofit community organizations responsible for the feat, noted that he hadn't been to a meeting celebrating home sales in Jacksonville in a while.

Peyton had a unique perspective on the accomplishment of resurrecting the neighborhood in decline and turning it into one attractive to families, he said. His father, Herbert Peyton, began his petroleum and real estate empire in 1960 "just a stone's throw from here" when he bought his first Gate gas station blocks away up Moncrief Road.

"This is the most dramatic improvement I've seen," Peyton said. "If we had this everywhere in Jacksonville, our violent crime would end."

The mayor noted the development was a "celebration of successful partnerships" and heaped praise on Paul Tutwiler, executive director of the lead agency, Northwest Jacksonville Community Development Corp., the nonprofit agency formed in 2001 to help people in the urban core revitalize their neighborhoods.

Tutwiler noted that one of the first 15 homes sold in the development known as Golfair Estates for $70,000 has seen its value increase to $130,000 and there have been no foreclosures because homebuyers are required to complete credit counseling as part of the purchase process.

"And crime is down 40 percent because the residents are taking ownership of their community," Tutwiler said.

In addition to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and various city housing and neighborhood departments, one of the development's important partners was the Local Initiatives Support Corp. of Jacksonville, which provided seed money for planning and property acquisition.

Joni Foster, director of the Local Initiatives group, congratulated the Community Development Corp. …

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