Photo: Bob Self/The Florida Times-UnionA repairman fixes a fence outside a foreclosed HabiJax home in Jacksonville.
Northeast Florida Roundup
Habitat for Humanity Foreclosures in Jacksonville
Last year, median home prices in Jacksonville climbed more than 15%, but one housing developer and financier filed nearly 50% more foreclosure lawsuits than it had the year before.
The foreclosure suits didn't come from by a bank or traditional mortgage lender, but rather from the Jacksonville affiliate of Habitat for Humanity, called HabiJax. The 50 foreclosures were more than the group had filed in the previous six years combined, including 33 in 2012.
Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit that buys and renovates homes or builds them with help from volunteers. Habitat then sells the homes via no-profit, nointerest loans to low-income people who must also provide volunteer work.
Angela Leatherbury, vice president of operations for HabiJax, says the filings involved homeowners who had stopped making payments in 2009 and 2010. HabiJax, she says, had tried to work with the homeowners to modify loans or find other ways to assist them, such as the state's Hardest Hit Fund.
HabiJax, she says, put off filing foreclosures as long as it could because of the economic downturn, during which unemployment in the area reached 11.4%. "Foreclosure is always a last resort. This only happens when HabiJax is confident it has done everything it can to bring homeowners current," Leatherbury says.
The Florida Times-Union noted that several HabiJax homeowners were not able to overcome job losses, medical expenses or tax and insurance increases that raised their housing outlays.
HabiJax has 1,458 mortgages and built or renovated 40 homes last year, making the group the largest affiliate in Florida, says Barbara In man, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Florida. Other large affiliates include those in Miami, Collier County and Pensacola.
Court records show Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami has filed five foreclosure suits since 2006. Habitat's Collier County affiliate didn't return a call (online court records show 25 foreclosures) and the Pensacola affiliate did not provide information.
Kendall Spencer will be president and CEO of Jacksonville Bancorp, the holding company for Jacksonville Bank. Kim Hodgkinson is CFO for St. Vincent's HealthCare in Jacksonville. She was senior vice president and CFO at St. Mary's in Evansville, Ind. » Matt Dunn is vice president of tourism development at the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce. He replaces Georgia Turner, who left to return to Alabama. Dunn was president and CEO of the Dunn Agency, a boutique advisory firm specializing in sports management.
When Israeli firm Krausz USA decided to open an office in the U.S. last year, it chose Ocala over Philadelphia and Savannah, Ga., which were considered because of their proximity to eastern ports. The company ultimately landed in Ocala thanks to CEO Tom Gwynn, who was recruited for the job and already lived in Ocala. "I convinced Krausz Industries in Tel Aviv that I was the person Gwynn they should deal with to accomplish their goals," Gwynn says. Krausz makes couplings and clamps for drinking water distribution systems. It previously sold its products through a third-party distributor. It has 14 employees in Ocala and plans to hire 22 by the end of 2015 to be eligible for $132,000 in state and local incentives.
GAINESVILLE — Paracosm, a Gainesville startup, received $800,000 in private and public funding to help build its 3-D modeling and navigation software. » Butler Enterprises, which owns the Butler Plaza shopping center off Archer Road, says it is not renewing the lease of the city's only Barnes & Noble after the bookstore chain would not agree to an increase in rent. The store plans to look for a new location.
GREEN COVE SPRINGS — Supermarket owner Delhaize America plans to cut 116 jobs from its distribution center in Green Cove Springs.
HAMILTON COUNTY — Agricultural Chemicals is laying off 350 this year.
JACKSONVILLE — The Jacksonville Aviation Authority signed its first tenant agreement at Cecil Spaceport with Atlanta-based Generational Orbit Launch Services. The company plans to use Cecil's hangar space and runway to support its commercial flight and horizontal launch program. Ponte Vedra Beach-based Killashee Investments wants to build a $1-billion development that includes a convention center, retail space and a 1,000-foot tower in the "Shipyards" area in downtown Jacksonville. The city owns the land. The proposal would involve the Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Fund buying the land from the city and partnering with Killashee as the developers. » Connecticut-based Greenfield Partners, a private equity real estate firm, paid $197 million to Liberty Property Trust for commercial space in Jacksonville totaling 2.1 million square feet, plus 140 acres of land. Liberty is a real estate investment trust. » The 22-story Aetna building in downtown Jacksonville was sold to Boca Raton-based IP Capital Partners for $55.5 million. » Jacksonville based Fidelity National Financial bought Lender Processing Services, which provides processing services for mortgage lenders, for $3.3 billion. LPS used to be part of Fidelity National Financial until 2006, when it was spun off. » Deutsche Bank will set up an international bank administrative office in Jacksonville, creating 200 jobs with an average salary of $62,000. EverBank is laying off about 300 employees in Jacksonville in the mortgage servicing division and loanorigination divisions. Some of the layoffs are related to a decision to sell a portion of the bank's mortgage servicing business to Green Tree Servicing. » ICI Homes has begun construction of Tamaya, a residential community in Duval County that will include 2,400 homes and more than 500,000 square feet of commercial and retail space. » Landstar System will sell its Michigan-based supply chain subsidiaries to XPO Logistics for $87 million. » Convergys plans to lay off 250 in Jacksonville. » The 42-story Bank of America building, downtown's tallest, is for sale.
LAKE CITY — The Lake City Hospital Association, affiliated with the 99-bed Shands Lake Shore Regional Medical Center, is considering selling itself. The hospital authority, which has an annual budget of $10 million, plans to get an appraisal and seek public opinion before voting on a possible sale.
LEVY COUNTY — Izaak Walton Investors proposed developing a 7. 7-acre area in Yankeetown, a small community just north of Crystal River. According to the Chiefl and Citizen, the riverfront development would include 60 residential units.
MARION COUNTY — The Ocala City Council agreed to suspend talks about bringing a New York Yankees-affiliated minor league team into town. The city and county had been considering a voter referendum to pay for a new minor league baseball stadium. » Marion Gaming Management plans to build a quarter-horse racetrack on 50 acres in southeast Marion County. The company paid $1.2 million for the property and has secured a pari-mutuel license from the state. » A 247-acre area around Silver Springs will become an archaeological district, making it eligible to be included on the National Register of Historic Places.
OCALA — Munroe Regional Medical Center will hand over operations of the hospital to Health Management Associates. The hospital district's board voted to approve a $212.8-million lease deal, which includes spending $225 million plus 4% of revenue, for improvements at Munroe. HMA is partnering with UF Health Shands Hospital in the venture.
ST. JOHNS — St. Joe Co. Sold its RiverTown community to Mattamy Homes for $43.6 million. Mattamy has 10 developments in the area and already builds ho in RiverTown.