City awards $669,000 to JWB for Porter House Mansion project | Jax Daily Record | Jacksonville Daily Record
The Jacksonville City Council issued $669,581 in taxpayer loans Feb. 8 to JWB Real Estate Capital for renovations to the historic Porter House Mansion Downtown.
Council voted 16-0 to approve a mix of forgivable and deferred loans from the city’s downtown preservation and revitalization program.
The Downtown Investment Authority’s board approved the terms of the deal in August.
JWB, led by Chairman Alex Sifakis, paid $2.6 million in August 2020 for the historic three-story structure at 510 N. Julia St. which was built in 1902.
The company plans to lease 4,300 square feet in the basement to a restaurant/retail operator and make 10,000 square feet available on the top three floors for lease to a single office tenant after what the summary of the bill indicates will be a nearly $3.1 million renovation.
Sifakis told the Council’s Finance Committee on Feb. 1 that he expects improvements to the mansion to be completed by the end of summer 2022.
Sifakis explained why the company is investing nearly $60 million in development and $14 million in equity for projects in Jacksonville’s urban core and Arlington.
Investing in the urban core
JWB’s core business is single-family rentals. Sifakis said the company uses profits from this business to reinvest in the urban core.
Sifakis said JWB sees the future of downtown as important for the city to attract the “young talent” companies want to hire.
“We do this for two reasons. First, because we think it will be an incredible long-term investment. But the other reason is that we think it’s very important to the future of Jacksonville to have a vibrant, walkable urban downtown,” he said.
In addition to Porter House, these investments include mixed-use renovations to the historic Federal Reserve Bank building at 424 N. Hogan St. and the Florida Baptist Convention Building at 218 W. Church St.
Sifakis said Feb. 1 that cost increases had made those projects a $21 million redevelopment.
In January, the company purchased the five-story “flagship” parking lot at 721 N. Pearl St. at Jacksonville’s First Baptist Church for $5.924 million.
He also purchased a warehouse at 331 W. Ashley St for $652,500 from the church in March 2021.
JWB also spends money in the downtown LaVilla neighborhood. The Company’s partnership with Corner Lot Development LLC has reached an agreement with the city to acquire 3.45 acres adjacent to Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing Park for an estimated $18 million 91 townhouse project with units would be for sale.
In August, JWB purchased a two-story office building and 1.45 acre parking lot at Monroe and Davis streets. for $2.5 million.
In December, he purchased a vacant 1.37 acre lot at Jefferson, Forsyth, Houston and Broad streets for $1.5 million to be kept for development.
In Arlington, JWB is working on an estimated $25 million facelift of College Park, the former Town & Country mall, at 903 University Blvd. which includes the construction of apartments.
The Mansion Affair
Porter House incentives include a $277,186 forgivable loan for historic preservation restoration and rehabilitation; a $258,479 forgivable loan for code-compliant renovations; and a deferred capital loan of $133,916 from the downtown preservation and revitalization program.
The forgivable loans will mature in five years and the principal will be canceled at a rate of 20% per annum.
The capital deferred loan will mature 10 years after the date of disbursement.
Council member Ron Salem abstained in the Feb. 8 vote due to the investments he has in JWB-related projects.
Council member Garrett Dennis was absent for the vote.
Sifakis’ downtown investment estimate did not include preliminary plans for a $40 million, 160-unit mixed-use residential building, he told JAX Chamber Downtown Council in May that the company wanted to build next to Porter House.
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