Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Cecil to Get 400 Downtown Jobs

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Cecil to Get 400 Downtown Jobs

Article excerpt

Downtown Jacksonville is about to lose at least 400 jobs --

and City Hall is pleased.

The Naval Aviation Depot plans to shift its engineers from a

rented downtown office to Cecil Field, the closing Navy jet base

the city wants to rejuvenate into a commercial airport and

business park.

While city development officials have chastised other downtown

defections, they believe this one might be for the best.

The aircraft repair depot's engineers, they say, could help

transform Cecil Field into the major aircraft rework center

envisioned in the sprawling, 17,000-acre base's future.

"In the bigger scheme, we'd rather have them at Cecil," said

Mike Weinstein, the executive director of the Jacksonville

Economic Development Commission.

The depot, more commonly referred to as NADEP, is planning to

shift its engineers from the old Jacksonville Electric Authority

central office building on Duval Street to the Westside base,

which is slated to close in the year 2000.

The move, which still awaits final approval from the military,

is expected to start this year, officials said. It is the second

proposed move of federal employees from downtown to come out

this week.

Under terms of a "leaseback agreement" with the city, which is

taking over the base for redevelopment, the Navy would get to

use 120,000 square feet of space in three Cecil Field buildings

at no cost.

"It is understood that the terms of this leaseback agreement

will be for an indefinite period of time, not less than 20 years

nor more than 50 years, and will not require rental payments or

municipal service charges," said a letter from the Cecil Field

Development Office to the Navy.

The Navy would be responsible for operating and maintaining the

buildings and grounds.

The letter said the use of the buildings "would be a great

asset to the Naval Aviation Depot" and "we recognize that NADEP

has been a vital part of this community."

With 4,200 civilian employees, the depot is the city's and

region's largest industrial employer.

When the move of the engineers -- who came to Jacksonville from

closing depots -- into the old JEA building was announced in

1994, it was heralded as an economic boon for the flagging

business district. …

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