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Fate of old National Guard armory still to be determined

Reported by: Sam King
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Updated: 12/06/2013 8:38 pm

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Two groups fighting for the old National Guard armory are now looking for ways to work together. The full City Council is set to consider Tuesday whether the local Sons of Confederate Veterans will be able to lease the building for a $1 a year.

Representatives from a coalition of arts groups called “The Artery” took another look at the building Friday to see if they and the SCV chapter can share it. The Confederate group says it would use only a part of it for a Florida military history museum.

“We're going to continue to find a way if we could coexist by looking at if they were separated off, if they had a different entrance, would that make sense,” said Kathryn McAvoy, executive director of the Performers Academy, Inc. “And again, there would have to be a lot of work done to share the building."

The arts group felt shut out by the process that awarded the building to the Sons of Confederate Veterans chapter, which was originally awarded the building in 2011. That status changed after Mayor Alvin Brown took office, but Council Member Kim Daniels drafted a bill allowing the chapter to lease the building.

“Apparently if a letter of interest is sent out and only one interested party answers, the city has the right to go straight to procurement and contract and doesn't have to go any further,” McAvoy said. “I didn't know any of that had gone on, and I think that's a problem with the process here in this city.”

The council's finance committee narrowly approved the bill on Tuesday.

“That lease has a variety of safeguards in place,” said Council Member Greg Anderson, chairman of the finance committee.  “There has to be sufficient money raised. We've done everything we can to kind of batten down the hatches."

An estimated $9 million is needed to fully renovate the building and make it usable. 

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