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$27 million investment by JU to 'Renew Arlington'

City leaders gathered Wednesday morning to announce "Renew Arlington," a $27 million package of improvements by Jacksonville University designed to benefit one of Jacksonville's oldest neighborhoods.

Mayor Alvin Brown, members of Jacksonville City Council, the president of Jacksonville University, leaders of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority and JEA shared excitement about the effort.

"Arlington is a community that's ready for a turnaround," said Brown. "It's a neighborhood with a great past and I believe it can look forward to a great future."

The campus investments include: the completion of a 30,000-square-foot College of Health Sciences building; a $1.5 million renovation of the new River House student center; a new 270-plus student housing development; acquisition of more than 40 acres of adjacent riverfront land; and significant overhaul of STEM laboratories, campus dining amenities, collaborative study spaces, and athletic facilities, with more upgrades to come.

"Jacksonville University believes in Arlington, and we are investing right now in support of this region," JU President Tim Cost said. "The greatest impact is through close partnerships, and we are committed to making those work."  

In addition to the on-campus improvements, the plan also includes sidewalks, transit shelters and improved lighting. The city also plans to work with local businesses to enhance University Boulevard and Merrill Road as commercial retail corridors.

"When I moved to Jacksonville in 1965, University Boulevard, anchored by Town and Country Shopping Center and Jacksonville University, was a thriving residential and commercial corridor," said John Crescimbeni, the at-large councilman who lives in Arlington. "The Renew Jax initiative for Arlington is a giant first step towards returning this part of Arlington to its former glory and heritage."

The project involves designating a section of Arlington as a Community Redevelopment Area with a Redevelopment Trust Fund, which allows all revenues from increased property values to be dedicated to economic development, housing infrastructure and other projects that benefit the immediate area.