Jessie Ball duPont Fund to repurpose the Haydon Burns Library

Downtown building to provide green home for nonprofit,
philanthropic organizations

By Nancy Lee Bethea
Resident Community News

The Haydon Burns Library, located at the corner of Downtown’s Ocean and Adams streets, housed books, periodicals, music and more for four decades. Now it holds collective memories of generations who grew up watching puppet shows or fingering their way through wooden drawers of a card catalog.
With the due diligence review of the Haydon Burns Library completed June 19, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund’s plans to repurpose the structure into a hub for philanthropic and nonprofit organizations are moving ahead. The building may be ready for occupancy in late 2014 or early 2015.
The 90-day review revealed no cost-prohibitive environmental issues with the building, according to Sherry Magill, President of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, but there are some mechanical considerations.

Converting the structure built in the mid-1960s into one with a light carbon footprint will be challenging, Magill said. Preliminary plans include transforming the roof proper into a ‘cool’ roof, installing low-flow toilets and faucets to conserve water and using energy-efficient lighting to save money. “The garden on the Forsyth Street side can be used to help recycle water,” she added.

Bringing the Library up to speed technologically is another consideration. A building-wide technology strategy will be developed along with plans for construction, interior design and occupancy.

In a broader sense, the Library’s downtown location with its proximity to the St. Johns River, the local business community, the local government and the Chamber of Commerce will benefit the nonprofit sector, Magill said.

In addition, the community at large will profit from investment in Downtown. “We hope to contribute in our own small way to the restoration of what clearly could be a great place to live, play, and work,” Magill said. “We hope to also illustrate that downtown Jacksonville matters a great deal, and that it is a neat place to be. It’s beautiful. The historic buildings are incredible and worth repurposing,” she added.

Still, downtown Jacksonville battles for positive public perception. A dearth of free parking is one factor, according to Magill. “We have more [parking] than we need,” she said, “but it’s not free.”

Crime is another factor keeping people in the suburbs, Magill said, yet crime rates are down. In fact, statistics from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office show a decrease in violent crimes from 8,032 in 2008 to 5,168 in 2012 and in property crimes from 46,198 in 2008 to 34,674 in 2012.
Potential tenants of a repurposed Haydon Burns Library are yet to be determined although the duPont Fund plans to survey interested parties next spring before space planners tackle the interior, Magill shared. The duPont Fund, now housed in the Wells Fargo Building (formerly the Independent Life Building), will move into the Haydon Burns.
Magill sees the Haydon Burns as a future center of thoughtfulness and planning where nonprofit organizations, which represent up to 10 percent of the work force, will co-locate. “Does everyone need their own kitchen? No,” Magill said figuratively. Co-locating is beneficial because it can produce efficient operating budgets which can yield more money for use in the community.

To Magill, the building will give the area’s ‘idea people’ time and space to work together for the public good.
“I’ve heard from a range of people, and the sentiment is the same,” Magill said. “They’ve come out of the woodwork to say, ‘Thank you for saving that building,’ or ‘Oh please, buy that building!’”

“The public owned it,” she added, “and this too will have a public
purpose.”

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