JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville City Council has unanimously approved rezoning needed for Sulzbacher to build a $36 million complex on the city's Northwest side that will provide affordable housing and manufacturing jobs for homeless men.
The homeless prevention nonprofit plans to build Sulzbacher Enterprise Village on 16.8 acres at Interstate 95's Golfair Boulevard exit on Walgreen Road.
The $26 million first phase would be 100 apartment units. The $10 million second phase would provide job training and a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing plant where the men — and some neighborhood residents — would be employed making modular affordable housing.
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So the project would not only provide jobs and housing for homeless men, but help ease the city's affordable housing crisis, said Darnell Smith, Sulzbacher board chairman.
"We do have a crisis in Jacksonville," he said. The men destined to live in Enterprise Village, he said, "are coming from homelessness. They're trying to find their way back home.
City Councilman Garrett Dennis said there were 84,000 people on the city's waiting list for federally funded Section 8 housing vouchers. He commended Sulzbacher for "stepping up" to help address the issue.
"We have to pull together," he said.
Also, Enterprise Village could "be a great catalyst for much-needed future development in that area," CEO Cindy Funkhouser said.
With Tuesday's rezoning approval in hand, Sulzbacher will now work on financing sources, which may include tax credits, the American Rescue Plan, state and federal funding and private grants, Funkhouser said.
At earlier hearings, neighbors opposed the project, insisting that existing issues in the community, such as a high crime rate, should be addressed before new developments are allowed. Even the district councilwoman, Ju'Coby Pittman, objected.
"This was a hard project. When this first started, I was not on board," she said Tuesday.
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Sulzbacher officials and the developers said they understood residents' concerns and would take steps to address them. Among other things, the project will include neighborhood improvements and a health clinic that will be open to neighborhood residents.
"When you are doing something different in the community … you have to consider bringing something good," Pittman said, adding that she would be watching to ensure the neighborhood is "cleaned up" with such items as landscaping and sidewalks.
"I am going to hold you accountable," she said.
Also, some residents said early on that they feared the possible ramifications of having what they perceived as an all-male homeless center in the neighborhood. But Enterprise Village will not be a homeless center: That function will remain at Sulzbacher's downtown location on East Adams Street near the jail.
Also staying downtown will be the Urban Rest Stop that provides showers, laundry, meals, health care and employment assistance, among other things, Sulzbacher officials said.
Enterprise Village will be the nonprofit's second new complex. The first was the $21 million Sulzbacher Village that opened in 2018 on 44th and Pearl streets, a subsidzed permanent housing community for formerly homeless women, children and families.
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