JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Downtown Jacksonville is known for its beautiful, big buildings but in the shadow of the skyscrapers are empty and abandoned structures – owned by you – the taxpayer.
"We currently have buildings sitting on Bay St.,” said city councilman Reginald Brown. “The old courthouse, old city hall, something needs to happen to those buildings. Either we demolish them, or sell the property or renovate them but we can't continue to build and not deal with the current issues that we have within the city."
Action News obtained a bill drafted by Councilman Brown. The measure prohibits construction of new public buildings if an existing vacant building is available.
Brown says the thought of spending tax dollars to build a new facility with such a high vacancy rate doesn't make sense. "Let's fill in these buildings before we even take up a conversation about spending tax payer dollars on new construction."
Michael Saylor will soon take his post on the Downtown Investment Authority. He is throwing his support behind the bill because he says it’s taking common sense and converting it into policy.
"It specifies what should constitute suitable space,” said Saylor. “It's got to pass a test and if you can't suitable space then you go to the option of building new again. That’s what the private sector would do."
Brown told Action News the debate over what to do with the Supervisor of Elections office sparked his proposal. He against building a new, consolidated SOE office in the LaVilla area, as proposed by councilman Clay Yarborough and Elections Supervisor Jerry Holland.
The first step, councilman Brown says, is obtaining an accurate list of all city-owned properties.
The Mayor Alvin Brown’s administration is looking to allocate $150,000 to inventory and assess all city-owned property. That measure is being looked over by city council.
Brown told Action News between the in-house resources like the Real Estate Department and local knowledge from the city workers, he expects would be willing to go in on the project- the project can get done with no cost to tax payers.