Fund Signs Pact To Buy Former Jacksonville Library Building

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The Jessie Ball duPont Fund has signed an agreement to acquire the former Haydon Burns Library building in downtown Jacksonville and convert it into an office complex for philanthropic and nonprofit organizations.

“We are very excited about this opportunity,” said Sherry Magill, president of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund. “It has the potential to greatly benefit the nonprofit sector, invigorate downtown and enhance the legacy of Jessie Ball duPont, who cared so much about the nonprofit organizations in this community.”

Terms of the agreement are not being disclosed. The Jessie Ball duPont Fund will spend several months conducting a due diligence review and can withdraw from the purchase agreement for any reason during that period. The building currently is owned by a group of private investors.

As envisioned, the building would become home to the Jessie Ball duPont Fund as well as the offices of other local nonprofit organizations. How many and which nonprofits would be housed in the building has not yet been determined, pending the outcome of multiple analyses to be performed in the coming months. The building also would include common spaces that could be used for meetings and other gatherings.

The Jessie Ball duPont Fund has experience with multi-tenant nonprofit centers through its work in Wilmington, Delaware, where the Fund was a partner in establishing the Community Service Building in the 1990s. Today, 73 nonprofit organizations share space in the 12-story building in the heart of downtown Wilmington.

Many other communities have similar facilities. In Dallas, for example, the Meadows Foundation acquired 24 acres of land in a rundown historic district and has renovated the area and created an expansive campus of nonprofit organizations. Such projects often create new hubs of economic activity for their communities, as well as benefitting the tenants through stable rents and efficient use of space.

The Haydon Burns Library building was built in 1965 in a style known as “mid-century modern.” The three-story “fins” that surround the building make it a distinctive local landmark. The architect, Taylor Hardwick, also designed Friendship Fountain and many other Jacksonville buildings.

The building ceased functions as the city’s main library in 2005 when the downtown library on Hemming Plaza opened, providing more space and upgraded systems.

The Jessie Ball duPont Fund works to expand access and create opportunity through grants to more than 330 eligible organizations identified by Mrs. duPont in her will. The Fund has assets of more than $270 million and has awarded more than $329 million in grants since 1977.