Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Couple Donate Their Home to North Riverside Neighbors

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Couple Donate Their Home to North Riverside Neighbors

Article excerpt

To Kent and Shirley Spuhler, their two-story home in an eroding

North Riverside neighborhood was a special place.

Kent Spuhler reared his three daughters there. The former

executive director of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid was close to

his neighbors and assisted them with any legal problems.

The Spuhlers helped organize the North Riverside Community


Now, they've donated their 2,500-square-foot house to the

community group.

"It was our way of putting something back into a community that

had been very good to us," Shirley Spuhler said.

The association will sell the house, appraised at $31,000, and

use the proceeds to rehabilitate abandoned houses in the area.

Two years ago, the couple moved to Tallahassee when Kent

Spuhler became executive director of Florida Legal Services. But

they weren't quite ready to part with their house at 2915

Spencer St. So, until recently, they let friends and relatives

use it.

"But it was difficult to keep it up," Kent Spuhler said. "We

had spent years trying to improve the neighborhood, and we

didn't want our house to become a problem."

The couple considered converting it into an AIDS daycare center

or having the community association use it as an office. But it

wasn't zoned for those uses.

They decided not to seek a zoning variance because they knew

that homes for low-income families with more than a couple of

children were hard to come by, and they didn't want to disrupt a

residential neighborhood.

The Spuhlers said they hope the sale of the home will provide

seed money to rejuvenate the area and set a precedent for

absentee landlords and owners to do the same.

The association is seeking $30,000 to $32,000 for the house,

which needs mostly cosmetic repairs.

"This is a win situation for everybody," said Vincent Kerr, an

association member and veterinarian whose office is on Edison

Avenue. "We can sell the house at anything and win."

Spuhler, a Harvard Law School graduate, lived in the house for

20 years. He renovated the 77-year-old structure, once used as a

rooming house, into a single-family dwelling. …

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