Interest in historic neighborhoods spurs change

NEFAR’s budget shifts from Downtown Council to Historic Area Council

By Lorrie DeFrank
Resident Community News

As more people are moving into attractive neighborhoods close to downtown Jacksonville, the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors (NEFAR) has revived its Historic Area Council to support members and others involved in selling and revitalizing homes in areas that include San Marco, St. Nicholas, Riverside, Avondale, Ortega, Murray Hill and Springfield.
It replaces the nearly 10-year-old Downtown Neighborhoods Council of Realtors, which had been dormant for more than a year and whose budget has been transferred to the Historic Area Council. Providing a forum for education and networking for NEFAR members and affiliates remains the purpose.

“The council is important to educate members about the differences of listing and selling homes in the historic and downtown areas versus other parts of Jacksonville,” said Carol Zingone, NEFAR president and broker associate, Prudential Network Realty, Atlantic Beach. “It’s important our NEFAR members be aware of the new developments to the downtown and historic areas. With closings in that market area up 42 percent year over year, the more educated our members, the better service they can provide to their buyers and sellers and help them be prepared.”

“Networking is extremely important in real estate, not only with customers but other professionals in the field,” said Jon Singleton, Historic Area Council chair and Realtor, Watson Realty Corp., Avondale/Ortega office. “The council can be a great resource to help educate folks who usually work in such places as Ponte Vedra, Mandarin and Orange Park on not only the boundaries but also how neighborhoods change from block to block and the various restrictions.”

Singleton said the council will sponsor educational events to help NEFAR members and affiliates work in historic neighborhoods. “We have presentations lined up to help inform us on city initiatives, inspection areas of concern, historic overlays and architectural renovation requirements, and the like,” he said.

The council was the topic of a recent NEFAR meeting at Aardwolf Pub and Brewery, a new taproom on Hendricks Avenue that itself is a statement to the lure of the San Marco area. Regions Bank on Hendricks Avenue hosted the meeting, where Oliver Barakat, chair of Jacksonville’s Downtown Investment Authority, shared goals to connect downtown with the historic neighborhoods surrounding it.

Barakat believes the key is leveraging the strength of the residential neighborhoods to downtown and building off their momentum and energy.
“The Historic Area Council creates a cumulative strength of those areas to the extent that NEFAR can bring together neighborhoods as one core district and elevate the awareness of all the success that is occurring,” he said.

“It will be great to have a group of Realtors who understand the historic district and see the value in it,” said Carmen Godwin, executive director, Riverside Avondale Preservation. “We are more than willing to work with them to promote this area as a great place to live.”

Reese Riggle, president, San Marco Preservation Society, believes a major reason San Marco is appealing and home values continue to rise is that San Marco reinvests in itself. “This neighborhood, and many other neighborhoods that are vibrant and successful in Jacksonville, are walkable and have a sense of pride that you can see and feel,” he said.
Realtors who work in the historic districts concur that the market is improving, not only for houses but for condos as well.

“The condo market is definitely coming back in the historic area and downtown in general,” said Josh Nugent, Realtor, Prudential Network Realty, Avondale/Ortega office. “Inventory is at an all-time low, especially in the Riverside area and high rises on the waterfront.”

Watch for the September edition of The Resident for an in-depth look at the status of the condominium market in the historic neighborhoods.

For more information
The Historic Area Council will meet at least quarterly. For details, contact Jon Singleton at [email protected]

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