Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Swaps Parking Spots for Courthouse

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Swaps Parking Spots for Courthouse

Article excerpt

Byline: Karen Brune Mathis, Times-Union senior business writer

Early next year, the city is scheduled to take ownership of the Depression-era U.S. Courthouse downtown and in return, provide 104 parking spaces to the U.S. General Services Administration.

GSA officials have been in town the past two days completing the details. In a Friday letter, the GSA agreed to accept the city's offer to purchase the courthouse at 311 W. Monroe St. in a deal that could close Jan. 2.

"This is a good win-win deal," said Thomas Walker, assistant regional administrator of the GSA Southeast region's Public Buildings Service.

Walker and F. Joseph Moravec, commissioner of the GSA Public Buildings Service, were in town this week.

Once the deed transfers, the city will renovate the aging and ailing courthouse building and incorporate it into its proposed $211 million Duval County Courthouse complex. In return, federal agencies will have access to the 104 parking spaces in the Water Street Parking Garage for 20 years.

The deal is worth $875,000, according to a government formula that allows such a swap.

The Water Street garage is across the street from the Charles E. Bennett Federal Building, which is at 400 W. Bay St. The Bennett building is slated for a $26 million renovation that should start in January.

Walker said the Bennett building now has just 175 surface parking spaces.

Functions at the old courthouse, built about 1932, will move to the new U.S. Courthouse that should be completed in the next month or two.

Moravec said the old courthouse "needs to be substantially renovated." City officials expect to completely renovate the interior of the building, which suffers from mold and water damage.

Given the restraints of time and space, here's a brief version of some of the background involving the deal, which has been complicated. …

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