Duval School Board votes to consider selling Southbank property

Emily Bloch
| Florida Times-Union

Duval County Public Schools‘ headquarters might be shifting away from its present riverfront property.

The School Board unanimously accepted a decision Tuesday to consolidate administrative workplaces. Currently, the district’s principal workplaces are situated at 1701 Prudential Drive on the St. Johns River — a coveted piece of land that would deliver Duval Schools a hefty sum of money. 

“I consider now we have the duty to be good stewards of the folks we characterize,” School Board member Lori Hershey mentioned Tuesday to the board. Hershey’s the one who put the decision ahead. “I feel it is time to have a dialog over true alternative relating to our location. I feel we’re in place now … the worth of the property has elevated between $four and $6 million in 4 years, we’ve paid off and personal the constructing and property.” 

While board members and district personnel have informally mentioned selling the Prudential Drive constructing prior to now, this marks the primary time a proper dialog has been accepted.

Still, it does not imply the constructing will likely be listed on the market tomorrow. The unanimous vote in favor simply means the board accepted beginning the method and associated discussions.

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“The School Board has taken step one in a bigger dialog about relocating the varsity board constructing,” School Board chairwoman Elizabeth Andersen mentioned. “Southbank improvement is underway, so it’s time for us to discover our choices and what makes good financial sense for the varsity district and the taxpayers.”

A year-and-a-half in the past, the varsity district constructing was appraised for a worth of about $13 million. Duval Schools moved to the riverfront property in 1979 when the lease expired on its previous constructing on San Marco Boulevard, simply south of I-95. The district owns its present constructing, “free and clear,” in accordance to Paul Soares, the district’s assistant superintendent of operations.

According to Hershey, the board workplace initially relocated in an effort to develop the Southbank. But now that the world is creating, Hershey sees it as a chance to doubtlessly make money by selling the property. 

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“I consider this board has made daring selections prior to now,” Hershey mentioned on the assembly. “I feel we’re a board that future boards will look again on and thank. I hope by additional actions tonight we’ll proceed to make accountable selections.” 

Bold selections Hershey was referring to embrace the School Board’s passing and authorized battle to get the now-approved half-cent gross sales tax for college upkeep in addition to the vote to rename colleges in Duval County named after Confederate generals. It’s price noting that the district’s course of to consolidate buildings and transfer out of its riverfront property wouldn’t contain half-cent gross sales tax funding. 

“The constructing is owned by the general public,” Andersen mentioned. “And the board will proceed to transfer ahead with all discussions within the public.” 

Emily Bloch is an training reporter for The Florida Times-Union. Follow her on Twitter or email her.

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