JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville church is finding a way to provide affordable housing to a neighborhood it serves and stretching beyond for new development.
Greater Grant Memorial AME Church in the Sherwood Forest neighborhood is a part of redeveloping three different areas that could lead to hundreds of people in new homes.
The church is working with a community-based program for the project.
Rev. Micah Sims, the pastor at Greater Grant Memorial AME Church, said he has a vision.
The church and a program it formed called the Community Development Corporation are building affordable and workforce housing in the form of 36 duplex townhomes along Gilchrist Road on 10 acres of land.
“We are looking to develop a real wholesome community,” Sims said. “People will be able to enjoy life, enjoy their neighbors, and really find a way to be community stakeholders in the future and vitality of Jacksonville.”
Sims said the goal is for people to eventually have a chance to rent to own the homes the church has planned. Those duplexes may open to the first tenants between April and May 2024.
“We are going to literally help people build themselves into homeowners,” Sims said. “Not just homeowners, but really diminish that financial literacy gap that oftentimes happens. We want [them] to really enjoy financial wealth. Not just through a house, but getting your future planned out, your retirement, your savings, your educational portfolio for your children, for your children’s children.”
That is just one project in the works.
Two miles away near the intersection of Soutel Drive and New Kings Road, another 69 single-family homes are being built.
Zoning and permitting are already approved as the Community Development Corporation is heavily involved.
People may be able to start moving into the new houses in early 2024.
“We really need to begin to engage on how we can improve and impact our communities,” Sims said. “We cannot just leave it to developers. You can’t just necessarily leave it to the government.”
Additional plans include revitalizing the Jacksonville Regional Shopping Center at the intersection of Dunn Avenue and Lem Turner Road. Work has already started.
A few new businesses may share the space. Sims said the complex is being renamed “Greater Town Center.”
You can also call the church at 904-764-5992.