Historic buildings lend a rich texture to the fabric of Downtown and are integral to maintenance of a unique identity. In 1991, a historic building survey identified 115 buildings in the Downtown Jacksonville Northbank Business Improvement that met the criteria for historic designation. By the time of a follow-up survey in 2005, that number had decreased 22% to 90.
Some buildings were demolished outright, while others were allowed to deteriorate to the point of collapse. Since the 2005 survey, one-by-one, several other historic buildings have been lost. In a number of instances, only vacant lots have replaced the demolished structures. Of the remaining 88 historic structures, 25 (28%) have been designated as Local Historic Landmarks.
What's left of LaVilla provides us with a future visual of a demolished Bostwick Building site.
In early August 2012, the owners of the Guaranty Trust and Savings building, located at 101 E. Bay Street, submitted an application for demolition of this building. Also known as the Bostwick Building and the “Jaguar” Building, this building is significant for a number of reasons, most notably its prominent location at the entry to Downtown from the Main Street Bridge, the former location of Henry Klutho’s architectural practice and also as the first building permitted following the Great Fire in 1901. Vacant since the early 1980s, the Bostwick building has deteriorated significantly over the years.
Preservation of historic buildings Downtown makes economic sense. In 2011, PlaceEconomics documented the economic impacts of preservation in their report to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. This study found that historic preservation results in more jobs than new construction, increased property values, increased tourism, fewer environmental impacts and increased quality of life.
In response to the owner's desire to turn one of the oldest buildings in downtown Jacksonville into history, local businessman Preston Haskell has offered to purchase the structure for $150,000. Answering an email to the Florida Times-Union, Haskell stated, “I am absolutely committed to preserving and restoring the building...I have no specific plans or tenants, but simply wish to see this building and its architecture preserved. It’s my little contribution to downtown development and historic preservation.”
However, Val Bostwick, the building's owner has rejected this offer because it's well below their $325,000 asking price. "That offer is just pennies on the dollar and is outside the realm of possibility. When you’re offering just pennies on the dollar, you’re not going to get it,” Bostwick told Times-Union reporters. Currently, the owner favors spending $40,000 to eliminate the building and maintain ownership of the lot, which is valued at $76,500, according to recent city appraisals.
Now it is up to the City Council to determine whether this significant building will be preserved. MetroJacksonville.com urges the community to support the preservation of the Bostwick Building by either attending the public hearings if you are able to express support for Landmark protection of the Bostwick Building, or contacting members of City Council by email. Contact information for the Land Use and Zoning Committee is provided below:
Lori N. Boyer – Chair: LBoyer@coj.net
Matt Schellenberg - Vice Chair: MattS@coj.net
Doyle Carter: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill Gulliford: Gulliford@coj.net
Warren A. Jones: WAJones@coj.net
R. Don Redman: Redman@coj.net
Contact information for the full City Council can be found at the following link:http://www.coj.net/city-council/city-council-members.aspx.
Editorial by Ennis Davis