Fund to Complete Purchase of Library, Creating Center For Jacksonville Nonprofits

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The trustees of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund have agreed to move forward with the purchase of the Haydon Burns Library building and begin work immediately to convert it into a philanthropic and nonprofit center.

The purchase is expected to be completed June 19. Terms of the purchase are not being disclosed.

“This is a great moment for the Jessie Ball duPont Fund and for the City of Jacksonville,” said Sherry Magill, president of the Fund. “This building, with all its quirkiness, is one of the beloved structures in downtown Jacksonville. We hope that saving and repurposing the building will not only benefit our nonprofit sector and our downtown economy, but will also generate enthusiasm among local residents who have fond memories of the library.”

The trustees spent the past 90 days conducting a thorough review of the building’s condition and evaluating the feasibility of the planned conversion. That review revealed no insurmountable issues.

In renovating and repurposing the building, trustees hope to accomplish multiple goals:

The primary purpose is creating a philanthropic and nonprofit center that will be home to a variety of organizations, including the Jessie Ball duPont Fund. Collectively, these tenant organizations will benefit from the synergy created when they co-locate. Their operating costs will be reduced through more affordable rental rates and bulk purchasing opportunities, which will free additional philanthropic dollars to meet other community needs.

“We think the building will be a center of nonprofit activity, a gathering place for thoughtful leaders and volunteers who care deeply about the provision of services to all citizens of Jacksonville,” said Magill.

Additionally, the trustees hope to use the building as a green energy building demonstration project. The building will be engineered to meet LEED certification requirements. It will include an accessible green roof, recycled water system and other energy-saving features.

Finally, the structure of the building and its 33,000-square-foot basement create an excellent refuge should a natural or man-made disaster befall Jacksonville. Having safe space where nonprofit services can be coordinated, in close proximity to local government, in the wake of disaster is a community asset.

The library — an iconic mid-century modern building — has been vacant since 2005. The Jessie Ball duPont Fund’s renovations will be in keeping with the historic architecture of the building.

Renovations are expected to take at least 18 months, with occupancy possible in late 2014 or early 2015. How many and which nonprofits will be housed in the building has not yet been determined. It is estimated that the renovated building will have in excess of 80,000 square feet of rentable space.