Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

It's Love at First Blight 15 Lucky Bidders Win Historic Springfield Homes

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

It's Love at First Blight 15 Lucky Bidders Win Historic Springfield Homes

Article excerpt

Jesus and Diana Seda first fell in love with the rickety

little white frame house at 36 W. 3rd St. three months ago.

Granted, the Springfield house was falling apart, but its

expansive yard, spacious porches and quality workmanship

overshadowed its chipping paint. And they were so endeared by

the green wooden "scales" covering the second story that they

had to give it a nickname: "the fish house."

Yesterday, after months of pining, the "fish house" became

theirs.

The Sedas were one of 15 winning bidders at a city-sponsored

auction of historic houses in need of renovation in the

Springfield neighborhood.

Nearly a year in planning, the auction was organized to "jump

start" the historically preserved -- but crumbling -- district.

"This is as an example of using preservation for a purpose ...

as a tool to improve a neighborhood," said Jerry Spinks,

chairman of the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission.

"The credibility that this gives to the neighborhood encourages

people to do more things."

To ensure that houses are properly restored, buyers yesterday

were required to bid on a package: the price of the house, plus

its pre-determined renovation cost. Minimum bids were determined

by each individual owner.

Although all of the homes were privately owned, many say the

city's role as a muchneeded liaison was the key to the auction's

success.

Last year, the mayor set aside $1 million to market the auction

and improve public infrastructure in the neighborhood. The city

also served as a go-between for pre-approved buyers, sellers and

lenders.

Davin Cilley, the current owner of the Sedas' house, said the

auction shows the city is getting serious about rejuvenating a

neighborhood where too many houses sit vacant.

"[Springfield] is still a little rough on the edges," said

Cilley, who lives in another house down the block from the

Sedas'. …

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