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Last call to save Jacksonville Fire Station 5

The Florida Times-Union logo The Florida Times-Union 11/14/2019 By David Bauerlein, The Florida Times-Union
a traffic light sitting on the side of a building: The Downtown Investment Authority is seeking proposals from anyone interested in relocating and preserving Fire Station No. 5 at 347 Riverside Ave. If no one comes forward with a viable proposal, the city will demolish the building, which dates back to 1910. [Florida Times-Union] © Florida Times-Union/Florida Times-Union/The Florida Times-Union/TNS The Downtown Investment Authority is seeking proposals from anyone interested in relocating and preserving Fire Station No. 5 at 347 Riverside Ave. If no one comes forward with a viable proposal, the city will demolish the building, which dates back to 1910. [Florida Times-Union]

The old Jacksonville firehouse on Riverside Avenue that sent so many firefighters on life-saving missions is facing a do-or-die situation of its own.

The Downtown Investment Authority Board approved a resolution Wednesday that would allow 30 days for anyone interested in acquiring Fire Station No. 5 to make offers for it, provided they are willing to move it to another location and preserve it.

If the city does not get a viable offer in that time frame, it will proceed with demolishing the fire station to make way for a street connection to the site of a new office tower for Jacksonville-based FIS.

DIA CEO Lori Boyer said the city has gotten some interest in the fire station and could consider providing financial assistance for relocating the building.

She said if an offer seeks city financial assistance, the DIA wants to see a business plan for future use of the station.

"It's not that they have to come in an offer us a million dollars for the building before we give it to them," Boyer said after the DIA board meeting. "They can come and say, 'We'll take it, we have this great idea for how to use it, this is what it will cost us to renovate it and we have money to do that, but you (the city) have to help pay to move it.'"

The city has tried in the past to find a purchaser who would relocate the two-story station, which was built in 1910 at 347 Riverside Ave. The station has not been used by firefighters since 2008.

The Jacksonville Historical Society has listed the station on its list of "most endangered buildings," citing its historic roots. When the station opened, it accommodated "two fire wagons, five horses and 14 firemen," the society says.

One way or another, whether through demolition or relocation, the city will clear Fire Station 5 by March 1 to make way for extending Forest Street toward the St. Johns River in a straight shot across Riverside Avenue.

City Council approved paying $2.6 million to acquire that 1.21 acre piece of property from Fidelity National Financial. Fidelity acquired the land in 2005 as part of a land swap with the city that gave the city property for a riverfront park.

The Forest Street extension is part of a riverfront redevelopment for FIS to build a new 12-story office building for its expanding headquarters campus along Riverside Avenue.

The resolution approved by the DIA board calls for issuing a solicitation that would give 30 days for entities to submit proposals to preserve the fire station by relocating it to another site, "preferably within the Brooklyn/Riverside neighborhood."

The resolution says anyone interested in the station can contact DIA staff at (904) 255-5305 for information about the building, a potential relocation site and estimated costs of moving the station.

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©2019 The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.)

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