The old Jacksonville Jewish Center will see new life

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville, in the early 1920s,  was growing rapidly. So was the local Jewish community. The community was growing so rapidly in fact, the Jacksonville Jewish Center was built at the corner of 3rd and Silver in Springfield in 1927.

In the late 70s the Jacksonville Job Corp called the building home and then, in 2005 the building became vacant.

But, the building, though mostly empty and used for storage, still tells a story. There's a gymnasium that used to hear the sounds of squeaky shoes and basketballs dunked, but is now covered in dust  and boxes. The grill where food was prepared is now dusted over, but sitting pristinely is the sign that instructs people how to deal with their dirty dishes. Upstairs, there are old classrooms and office spaces that now have peeling paint and missing ceiling tiles.

"As you know with Jacksonville, everything started spreading out. Everything in Downtown just went down. Unfortunately I think this is just one of the places that was a downfall of that," said Dee Kirby with GNP Development Partners, LLC., who owns the building.
 
The Job Corps was in the building from 1979 - 2005 and was put in foreclosure. In 2011, a fire destroyed the synagogue and it had to be demolished. That part of the property remains empty to this day.
 
 
The rest of the buildings look much like they did 12 years ago.
 
But Kirby says that's going to change.
 
"We are trying to turn the space into a mixed use. There'll be some retail, some office space, and the rest of it will all be apartments," said Kirby. 
 
Another one of the properties GNP bought is the dentist office next door. Kirby says the dentist closed up for the day one Friday and has remained as it was on that one Friday. The doctor left behind nearly everything.
 
There is just a huge room with large and wildly out of date dental equipment. There are no privacy curtains to shield you from the person getting a cleaning next door. Though it has been vacant from less than five years, it gives anyone who enters the feeling of stepping into 1974. Half-full bottles of Listerine still sit on side tables and stickers, just waiting to be given out to children, still sit on the roll. 
 
The dentist left behind his work shop, ceramic dust still clinging to the tools he used to make dentures for his patients; not to mention drawers full of plates with fake, albeit realistic looking, teeth glued to them.
 
Kirby says this building, along with the old Jewish Center will not be destroyed.
 
"You don't want somebody to just come in and tear it down. You want to see it restored and maintain the fabric of the original community just like all of the other homes and buildings in the area," said Kirby.
 
Plans for the property have been drawn up, still keeping the integrity of the history of the building and area. 
 

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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