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‘Pay it upfront or your business doesn’t open:’ $100K JEA fee throws plans for laundromat into limbo

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Plans for a new laundromat on the Westside could be in trouble due to a $100,000 fee being charged by JEA.

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Ephraim Gottlieb wants to turn a vacant building on Edgewood Avenue into his very first brick-and-mortar business: A laundromat he plans to call Miss Bubbles.

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“This is going to be all driers right here. Brand new. State of the art,” Gottlieb said, while showing Action News Jax around the space.

But there’s one thing standing in his way: A $100,000 sewer impact fee he’s being charged by JEA to turn the water on, which is a pretty pivotal resource for a business full of washing machines.

That $100,000 fee is on top of a more than $40,000 cost he’ll have to incur to upgrade the water and sewer lines.

Investigates: JEA defending large pay raises for executives, some of whom live out of the area

Gottlieb said while he understands the need for an upfront payment to cover the line upgrades, he can’t afford to pay the $100,000 impact fee upfront.

“I spoke to JEA this morning about this. I said is there anything we can do to finance this sewer impact fee? And the answer I get is no. No. Pay it upfront. Pay it upfront or your business doesn’t open,” Gottlieb said.

We reached out to JEA asking why it’s unwilling to work with Gottlieb and allow him to pay the impact fee over time.

A representative with the utility told us, “In order to qualify for deferred billing, the customer would need a security deposit that covers capacity fees in addition to the amounts for each active service, or a bond that would cover the amount”.

In Gottlieb’s case that would still be more than $75,000 upfront according to the costs provided by JEA.

READ: Jury selection for former JEA executives accused of conspiracy, wire fraud to begin Thursday

For Gottlieb, the setback is disappointing and it could put an end to his dream of helping to revitalize this Westside community.

“Here’s a business owner who is coming into a part of the city that we need rejuvenation of, he’s willing to invest his money, he’s willing to work hard and we’re not willing to work with him. Like that’s not even reasonable. I have no other avenues to go to,” Gottlieb said.

Gottlieb said he reached out to the Mayor’s Office seeking assistance on Monday night.

The Mayor’s Office told Action News Jax it plans to circle back with him to see how they may be able to help.

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