Investigates

‘It’s unsettling:’ University Park home abandoned for years racks up $350K in fines

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A local home has sat abandoned for years racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, while neighbors said it brings down the appeal of their community.

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University Park draws dozens of neighbors from all over, including Justin Jarrell and his son.

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“I loved the house. My son fell in love with it. So, I bought it immediately when he said dad this is where I want to live,” he told Action News Jax’s Robert Grant.

Jarrell wants to live in the neighborhood for years and said it’s a tight knit community. But there’s one home that’s become a major eyesore.

“We have to look at something like this that’s decayed, abandoned, there’s trash all over it,” Jarrell explained. “You can see raccoons in and out of the opening at the top of the home. Cats as well...When it gets hot, it smells like mold and urine. That’s kind of unsettling.”

Neighbors reached out to Action News Jax after our investigation on Jacksonville’s so-called “zombie homes.”

Action News Jax Investigates discovered the first violation on the home on Bradshaw Street was filed six years ago in March 2018 after a tree fell on the roof. Code compliance approved demolition five years later in May 2023. According to an inspector’s report, it was “in danger of collapse & poses an immediate threat to health and safety.” It has since been condemned.

READ: JFRD puts out two abandoned home fires on Jacksonville’s Northside

But the case was deferred to January of this year, and the fines have since been doubled to $500 a day. Now it still sits abandoned and racked up a total of nearly $360,000 in fines according to a city representative.

The owner is former Jacksonville City Council Member John Crescimbeni who is now a staffer at the Downtown Investment Authority. Crescimbeni said he’s “frustrated as well and shares the neighbors’ concern and is trying to work through a solution.”

Neighbors hope it happens soon. “Just anything to make our neighborhood look a little bit better, because this is the craziest eye sore in this part of town,” Jarrell said.

READ: ‘It’s just a horrible sight’: Westside man says he’s repeatedly asked city to remove abandoned house

The city said because the home is condemned, it could be demolished but “preferably by the owner.” Condemned properties are demolished by the city in order of threat to the public, a city representative said.

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