The Downtown Project of the Year Award recognizes a project that has significantly enhanced the economic revitalization of Downtown through the activation of underutilized resources, job creation, or leading design practices. The 2018 winner was a project many years in the making, opening its doors to Downtown this past March, first with a café and then with college dormitories — 20West Florida State College at Jacksonville Housing and Café.
The key to success in any downtown is more “feet on the street” — more residents, especially. In many downtowns, students are a huge part of the community’s success. The streets of Downtown Jacksonville didn’t always have them, but 20West is helping to pave the way for what Downtown Vision hopes is an emerging trend. Students bring the vitality and energy that Downtown needs and taking the first step toward creating an urban residential option for them is a way to enhance the economy and bolster a vibrant, varied downtown culture.
20West FSCJ Housing and Café is housed in the six-story, historic Lerner building located across from The Carling on West Adams Street and was transformed from a vacant building to modern living and dining. 20West is actually a classroom, providing experiential opportunities for FSCJ students in the Culinary Arts Program. Such a multifaceted project takes many individuals and organizations to successfully complete, and Downtown Vision decided to recognize the three most prominent contributors to bringing 20West to life: Florida State College at Jacksonville, developer Profit Investments and financial partner Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Jacksonville.
Kevin Hyde is the current President of Florida State College at Jacksonville. A partner and employment lawyer with Foley & Lardner LLP, he is also a former President of the Jacksonville City Council. As the incoming project sponsor continuing the efforts of his predecessor, Mr. Hyde spearheaded the campaign in order to create a final project that would enhance the FSCJ curriculum and student life, as well as bring a new demographic to downtown. “About two years ago, when the idea was started, it was to create both the café, which is part of our culinary program, provide our students with housing, and really try to help revitalize downtown because we know that having more residents downtown truly is the height of what we’re trying to do,” said Mr. Hyde, according to WJCT.
Eugene Profit founded Profit Investments in 1996 and has overall management responsibility for the firm and client portfolios. He attended Yale and played professional football with the New England Patriots and the Washington Redskins. As the owner of the building, he was an obvious essential partner, working to renovate the entire building for the purpose of ultimately leasing the space to Florida State College at Jacksonville.
LISC Jacksonville provided a key role, filling gaps in conventional financing to allow this project to achieve success. LISC’s mission is to transform challenged urban communities into neighborhoods of opportunity.
Thank you, Florida State College at Jacksonville, Profit Investments and LISC Jacksonville, for bringing 20West Housing and Café to life and for being invested in the future of Downtown Jacksonville.