City surplus property being priced to move | News

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City surplus property being priced to move
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --The city is a big landowner with property not generating a dime for taxpayers, but soon that could change.

A proposal is being refined at Jacksonville City Hall to entertain bids from private companies to inventory, price and market city property that costs taxpayers money to maintain.

In Downtown alone, there are several parcels, including the former courthouse on river, that are not being used. The courthouse is assessed by the property appraiser as having a value of $19.5 million.

And according to numbers from Debbie Delgado, public communications officer for the mayor's office, electricity costs for the old courthouse were $35,609.22 for July 25-August 24 and $23,876.35 for August 24-Sept. 25.

The city estimates it has 2,600 pieces of property that are not on the tax rolls, with many of them potentially generating money if in private hands.

One example is vacant restaurant called 9th and Main in Springfield that has been in the city's hands for more than two years.  It has an assessed value of $325,000 with no buyers yet.

The building has already been cited by code enforcement because of garbage and being overgrown with vegetation.

"It has been almost 13-14 months since I was interested in and it's a mess now," said Bobby Kapuschanski, who invested countless hours trying to make a deal with the city with no success.

The Riverside restaurant owner says his offer in the $150,000 range was not enough for the city to unload the property.

"I thought a fair and reasonable offer," said Kapuschanski, who eventually made a purchase in Riverside creating new jobs and generating new tax revenue for the city.

Renee Finley is the head of Public Private Partnerships for the mayor's office and says changes are in the pipeline.

"What are we doing to do with these properties? How do we get them to highest and best use?" Finley said. These are among the answers the city wants when marketing surplus property.

Finely said the goal is to have a company working on the project by mid 2013.  She estimates it will take several months to inventory and price property.

Gretchen Dougherty is a taxpayer who says it is about time the city take steps to move public property and get in on the tax rolls.

"It is wasting our tax dollars because (property) just devalues every day, costing us more time and money," said Dougherty.

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