Local

Springfield neighbors concerned about crime at vacant historic Jewish Center

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — We’ve all seen the empty buildings in and around downtown Jacksonville. They are an eyesore, but some neighbors in Springfield are more concerned with safety at one site in particular.

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Peter Ornell moved to Springfield from Germany three years ago. “I lived in a historic town. I just love the historic nature of [Springfield]. Great neighborhood. Great people.”

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The old Jewish Center site and later Job Corps Center is one of those historic sites, but this one is causing more harm than good he said.

“The biggest concern is that it is not secure and the fact we have a lot of illegal activity.”

Ornell said there’s everything from drug deals to sexual activity. Action News Jax requested calls to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office about that address and we found 112 so far this year. It lists calls about trespassing, suspicious persons, and property checks among others.

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“Most folks know they can come back here — conduct illegal activity, walk around, and there are zero consequences for them.”

A couple weeks ago, neighbors enlisted the help of Council Member Jimmy Peluso. In a statement, he said in part, “I’ve brought these concerns to the owner who is committed to resolving them and building a fence. I look forward to seeing this property activated through adaptive reuse with a public private partnership.”

The site is owned by GNP Development and one of the owners lives in Springfield. Joshua Pardue said renovating a historic site has become a costly challenge. He is currently working with the city’s new administration on legislation for plans at the property.

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In a statement, he said, “We live in the area, are excited to work on several projects and are committed long-term to doing the right with the corridor and district.”

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As far as safety, the owner plans on placing a fence around the property and putting blocks along the doors instead of plywood to keep potential criminals out.

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