City to consider 30-year property lease

When the regular 5:00 p.m. St. Augustine City Commission meeting begins in the Alcazar Room at City Hall tomorrow night, Historic City News reporters will be watching as the commission considers a proposal concerning the lease of state-owned historic properties.

The properties in question are owned by the Florida Internal Improvement Trust Fund and leased to the Florida Division of Historical Resources until 2040.

A decade ago, the city subleased 34 of these state-owned historic properties in five-year increments.

Management of the properties has been costly for the city, and one analysis put the estimated cost of needed repairs at about $27 million — money that the city does not have.

Seven years ago, the city unsuccessfully sought a $1 million annual state appropriation for repairs; similar to another program for 20 state-owned properties in Pensacola.

When that failed, the University of Florida was asked to take over the properties — but when they evaluated the maintenance and repair costs, they declined the takeover without funding.

“Five years is not a long enough time to encourage investment in major repairs,” Mayor Joe Boles said. The city will now consider development of a private-public investment plan for upgrading the properties; however, it will likely hinge on approval of a 30-year property lease-through.

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