Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Grant Inquiry Raises Concern over Project

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Grant Inquiry Raises Concern over Project

Article excerpt

Byline: Earl Daniels, Times-Union business writer

Local developer John Rood might breathe a little bit easier about his proposed downtown residential project sometime this afternoon.

That is if an issue Councilwoman Alberta Hipps raised yesterday at a City Council Finance Committee meeting is resolved today at a Recreation and Community Development Committee meeting, which is at 10 a.m. at City Hall.

Yesterday, Hipps wanted to know if a part of the city's financial assistance, a $2 million community development block grant, for Rood's $24.1 million downtown loft apartment project, would delay other neighborhood infrastructure work in the district she represents.

Rood, chairman of Jacksonville-based Vestcor Cos., has plans to redevelop the Lynch Building, which will be renamed 11 East Forsyth, and the Roosevelt Hotel at 33 W. Adams St., which will be renamed the Carlington Building, into 226 loft apartment units. The buildings also will include stores, office space and restaurants.

The redevelopment is among several downtown housing projects. City officials have been using incentives to attract developers to build downtown housing in the hope of making the area more vibrant.

The financial incentives package for the project was amended from a plan introduced in September 2000.

Among the changes is the amount of the city's loan, which increased from $13.4 million to $17.8 million. Also, the community development block grant went from a $2 million loan to a grant. The project is eligible for federal historic tax credit equity, which increased from $1.9 million to $3.2 million. The developer's equity increased from $1 million to $1.1 million.

Under the deal, the city will receive a portion of the project's operating profits.

Costs to redevelop the buildings increased when Vestcor determined in March it would cost more to remove asbestos and lead-based paint. …

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