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  • Writer's pictureFlorida Trust

Secretary of State, Lawmakers Gather to Experience Economic Value, Potential for Preservation

Updated: Mar 6, 2023

The 110-year-old Union Terminal Warehouse in Jacksonville is currently undergoing extensive historic renovations...$72 million dollars in renovations to be exact.

Union Terminal Warehouse located at 700 E Union St, Jacksonville, FL

Constructed in 1913, the Union Terminal Warehouse was the largest commercial building in Florida at that time. The warehouse was originally built to handle the growing grocery industry of Florida. Built after Jacksonville's Great Fire of 1901, it was crucial that the warehouse could safely house flammable goods such as fireworks, paper and books. According to Ryan Akin, Development Manager at Columbia Ventures, the 50,000-gallon water tank on the roof was used as a marketing tool to demonstrate to tenants that they would be safe in case of fire. The Union Terminal Company operated the warehouse until its sale in 1934.

Attendees standing in front of the warehouse's famous 50,000-gallon water tank.

Columbia Ventures, an Atlanta based-developer, purchased the warehouse in 2018 with intentions to preserve and convert it into a mixed-income residential and commercial space. When it is complete, the Union Terminal will have more than 45,000 square feet of community commercial space. It will house 228 apartments, 44 commercial units, 11 artists' spaces, a restaurant and coffee shop. The project is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2024.

The Union Terminal Warehouse is located at 700 East Union Street in Jacksonville's Eastside community, one of the most important historically black neighborhoods in Jacksonville. The community, located next to the Jacksonville Jaguars stadium, has not seen any major infrastructure investments in over 60 years. Ryan Akin, the Development Manager of Columbia Ventures, explained that the renovated warehouse will devote 191 out of 228 residential units to people making at or below 100% of the area median income. Akin told Florida's lawmakers that the project will bring investments and jobs to Jacksonville's Eastside and urban core. Eastside advocates hope that this renovation will be the beginning of a renaissance for their once-thriving community. Click here to watch an NFL sponsored video about the ongoing revitalization project of the Historic Eastside community.

"This is a perfect example of a partnership on the local, state and federal levels and it's just amazing." - Senator Tracie Davis to News4Jax (Read more here)

The Union Terminal Warehouse project is an embodiment of what a historic tax credit can accomplish for local businesses and communities. The warehouse is transforming into a vibrant multi-family site that will foster living, working and creating. Without a statewide historic tax program, Florida deprives communities of the economic benefit brought by these restoration projects.

CEO & President Melissa Wyllie.

Currently, projects like the Union Terminal Warehouse get a 20% federal tax credit. If House Bill 499 or Senate Bill 288 passes, there will be an additional 10% credit to these projects on the state level. HB 499 and SB 288, as explained by our CEO & President Melissa Wyllie, would allow private developers to "marry" state tax credits with Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives. To learn more about these bills and our advocacy efforts, click here.

Ryan Akin, Development Manager of Columbia Ventures

Many thanks to Columbia Ventures for working with us to facilitate the tour of the warehouse for Florida's lawmakers, activists and supporters. And, much appreciation to Ryan Akin and Jakob von Trapp for leading the tour and for their hard work and passion on this project.

We are so grateful to our lawmakers for attending this event and making it so successful. Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd, Senator Tracie Davis, Senator Clay Yarborough, Representative Jessica Baker, Representative Dean Black, Representative Chuck Brannan and Representative Paula Stark.

Representative Stark, the bill sponsor for HB 499, and her husband Joel.

We are hopeful that the tour of the Union Warehouse is a testament to all a historic tax credit can accomplish and inspires our legislatures to fight to promulgate a state credit in Florida. This legislation has strong bipartisan support as it works to preserve the historic integrity of local communities, addresses the issue of housing affordability, incentives the resurgence of neighborhoods and motivates developers and businesses to restore, rather than destroy, existing historic structures.

The following outlets ran stories on the event. Visit the links below to view the coverage:

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1 Comment

V.L. Cason
V.L. Cason
Mar 02, 2023

Terrific project!

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