Mayor hopes to move jail away from Downtown within 5 years

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry says to skeptics: Just watch

By Jim Piggott - Reporter, Frank Powers - Assignment manager, Kent Justice - Anchor/reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After 27 years in Downtown Jacksonville, Mayor Lenny Curry's office is making plans to relocate the Pretrial Detention Facility -- the high-rise jail next to the Police Memorial Building.

According to Bryan Hughes, Curry's chief of staff, the move is part of the city's capital improvement project. He said the move "faces some challenges," but the goal is to get government buildings away from the river and create a unified Bay Street corridor.

The project has been on the city's wish list for years, but because it could cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build a new jail, the project has never moved forward, but Curry told critics Wednesday: just watch.

"I have heard some criticism. 'Oh, they can’t do it.' 'It will never happen,' and 'How are they going to pay for it?'" Curry said. "Everything that we told the people in Jacksonville in the face of the small voice of criticism we have demonstrated confidence, goal setting and getting things done for the people of Jacksonville."

No potential locations were immediately pinpointed, but one suggestion is to build a pretrial detention facility on Lannie Road on the Northside, on property adjoining the Montgomery Correctional Center. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office estimated it would cost $246 million.

News4Jax Political Analyst Rick Mullaney worked in city government for decades. In his view, the cost and the logistics involved are the major obstacles, but the huge benefit to the city could be development in prime real estate.

"I think Jacksonville desperately needs that entertainment district downtown," Mullaney said. "For private development, both residential and non-residential, and for that entertainment district -- it helps open up that corridor."

Officials hope to have the move completed within five years.

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