The 800 lb gorilla has been revealed to actually be approximately a 3000 lb 19 headed monster and it is formally known as Jacksonville City Council.
For decades this monster has used the hard earned dollars of Duval taxpayers to ease financial burdens to developers and corporations. This monster offers tax breaks, grants, and subsidies all under the altruistic motive of “making life better” and improving downtown for the citizens of Duval.
Here are just a few examples. There are many more to see.
In 1999, the monster offered a Connecticut company, Rayonier, $1.8 million dollar grant to relocate to 225 Water Street in Jacksonville. In addition, they also offered a Qualified Target Industry tax credit of $136 thousand dollars.
And then what happened: Rayonier announced in 2017 they were relocating to Nassau County, Florida leaving 225 Water Street 60% empty.
In 2007, the monster offered K Mack LLC $1.4 million dollars to develop The Shoppes at Norfolk on Soutel Drive; retail space of 61.9 thousand square feet. This was to improve a blighted neighborhood through the Enterprise Zone and Empowerment Zone programs.
And then what happened: The Shoppes at Norfolk still have 34 thousand square feet empty.
In 2011, the monster offered a company on the South Side, Everbank, $2.75 million dollars to relocate to downtown. In addition, they also offered a Qualified Target Industry credit of $2.1 million dollars.
And then what happened: The bank jumped at the chance (who wouldn’t) and used tax dollars to move their bank from one side of town to the other.
In 2012, the monster offered a development, P&L Jax Riverside L.P., company $5.15 million dollars for a residential and retail project; Unity Plaza at Brooklyn. However, before this grant there were millions given away, in 2007, to prepare the infrastructure for the development.
And then what happened: In 2017 Hallmark Partners defaulted on the mortgage for the retail properties and just this month the last business, Brixx Wood Fired Pizza, located in the retail spaces closed up shop
Decades of examples, yet the monster continues to use tax dollars to manipulate the hand of a free market. Businesses come and go based on long-term viability or in these examples, the amount of risk that the taxpayers of Duval absorb for the developers and corporations.
Incentives are good IF used properly and fairly and all sides win. In these cases, the taxpayers lose and the City Council looks for another deal to keep the Gorilla happy and content.