Jacksonville looks vacant city-owned properties


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – At a time when the city is raising taxes to pay for essential services, Channel 4 has learned the city is also sitting on millions of dollars of unused property.

There are thousands of vacant city-owned land and building -- the most visible of which is the old Duval County Courthouse -- and 395 of them could be used to make the city some big bucks.

Until now, the city was not sure exactly what it had. The big properties like the courthouse are obvious, but as this list obtained by Channel 4 shows, there are hundreds more.

The city could make a hefty profit off the old courthouse, which has an estimated market value of $18 million. If it could sell it to investors, it would put the property back on the tax rolls.

Other buildings the city is going to try to unload include an old bar and restaurant at Ninth and Main streets. It's locked up, and the city has been trying to get rid of it some time and get the property back on the tax rolls. It's estimated market value is about $410,000.

"Someone just abandoned the building. It's been there for awhile," said resident Arnold Palmer, who was surprised to learn it was city-owned. "It's been there for years and nothing was done to it."

There are other buildings that might surprise residents, such as a vacant day care center next to the Jacksonville Children's Commission building on A. Philip Randolph Boulevard with an estimated value of $4 million. It was built in 2005 and yet it now sits empty.

Or the church next to Hemming Plaza. The city owns the building, which is worth $600,000.

DOCUMENT: List of unused property owned by the City of Jacksonville

Most of the properties are not that valuable, like one piece of land that is worth $350,000. But it all adds up, and the city has about $125 million worth of vacant properties.

"The thing we want to do is put these properties to work for taxpayers," said David DeCamp, spokesman for the mayor's office. "We want to add to the tax base and best optimize the use of these properties."

The city has narrowed down the list and is working to see what could be sold and what it needs to keep.

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