Jacksonville–The former John Gorrie Junior High School in the Riverside-Avondale neighborhood of Jacksonville, which closed as a school in 1997 and sat vacant for more than a decade afterwards, has been renovated into condominiums, which are now for sale. The redevelopment was the brainchild of Delores Barr Weaver, majority co-owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL team, and chair and CEO of the Jaguars Foundation, a major Jacksonville philanthropic organization. She also lives in the neighborhood.
Weaver and her husband J. Wayne Weaver purchased the abandoned property from the local school board in early 2009. Though the Weavers have not disclosed the details of their investment in the project, the total cost of bringing the property to market has been reported as $13 million, of which only $500,000 was for the purchase of the 3.8-acre site and its two buildings.
The redevelopment has created 68 units from the former school–classrooms, auditorium, gym and other rooms–which first opened in 1923, and was named after the Floridian who invented the first machine to cool air in the 1840s. Asking prices for the units, which range in size from 800 square feet to 1,800 square feet, start at $102,000 for a studio and top out at $312,000 for the largest two-bedroom unit, though most of the two-bedroom units range from $171,000 to $274,000.
Some of the residences include original architectural details such as Palladian windows, high ceilings, a combination of old and new hardwood floors, and exposed brick walls. In addition to its historical elements, the property also includes a fitness center, elevators, gated parking and a resident reading room. The restored original courtyard provides residents with an outdoor gathering space.
The Florida condo market, famously battered by the recession, has made an incremental comeback in recent months. According to the Florida Association of Realtors, 8,338 condo units sold statewide in May 2011 compared to 7,104 units in May 2010, for an increase of 17 percent. The statewide median sales price for condo units in May 2011 was $98,200, a 2 percent increased from the May 2010.