Jacksonville, Fla., July 20, 2017 – The Downtown Investment Authority has unanimously approved the terms and conditions proposed by the North Florida Land Trust to make the historic Brewster Hospital its new headquarters. The land conservation organization is interested in moving to the building in LaVilla, which provides more space and room for growth. The approximately 5,700 square foot building, which is owned by the City of Jacksonville, has been vacant for years.
“Frankly, we have just run out of room at our current office in Riverside,” said Jim McCarthy, president of NFLT. “Over the last couple of years, we have greatly increased the number of projects and land we conserve each year and with that, we have had to add staff to keep up with the workload. Brewster Hospital is a wonderful community asset that has been idle for too long and it fits our needs and mission.”
The City of Jacksonville’s general counsel will now draft a lease that must be approved by the City Council. The lease would be for five years with an option for a five-year renewal. NFLT has agreed to pay for about $250,000 in improvements to the building, which would include the addition of an elevator and other handicap requirements to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, a kitchen and small eating area for employees, an off-street parking lot, plus fencing, lighting and other security features. In return, the rent would be waived until the principle and accrued interest from the improvements has been retired.
Brewster Hospital was built in 1885 and was Jacksonville’s first hospital for African Americans and a training school for nurses. It was moved to its current location at the corner of Monroe and Davis Streets in 2005. The City of Jacksonville did extensive renovations to the building in 2007. NFLT would occupy a portion of the building and will designate an area on the first floor that will serve as a memorial to the history of Brewster Hospital. The area will be available to the Brewster and Community Nurses Association for meetings and events.
“While we are primarily a land conservation organization, our mission also includes the preservation of historic resources in North Florida, like Brewster Hospital,” said McCarthy. “This historic building has the space we need, it is a valuable piece of Jacksonville’s history and it is vacant; the perfect scenario for us and our mission.”
NFLT would begin improvements as soon as the City Council approves the lease agreement, which is expected to be voted on in August.