Jacksonville: Apartments get green light from city council

Published on Wednesday, 15 January 2014 23:34 - Written by By Faith Harper fharper@tylerpaper.com

Jacksonville residents will have an opportunity to live in a piece of history.

The Jacksonville City Council approved a zone change Tuesday evening allowing four of Lon Morris College’s former dormitories to be turned into apartments.

Clark, Brown, Craven-Wilson and Fair Halls were changed from planned development to multi-family after a recommendation from the city’s planning and zoning board was granted in mid-December. The buildings sit on Prather Street, Tilley Street and College Avenue.

The dorms will be converted into about 60 apartments and will be a mixture of one and two bedrooms, said Jack Webb, the project’s developer and owner of 11X17 Inc.

The dorms housed a total of 312 students , according to the former college’s website.

“It will be a great asset to Jacksonville,” Webb said. “Lon Morris means a lot to the citizens in Jacksonville, and I think seeing that someone is stepping up to take care of the facilities and turn it into something beneficial is a great asset to the community and its heritage.”

Webb said the next step is to gather contractors and get a building permit from the city. He expects the first one to be complete in a couple of months.

“I hope to have all four done by the end of the year, but we will see — that’s a lot to get done in one year,” he said.

Webb said he hasn’t settled on a specific rent price yet, but expects it to be in the middle of the road, which for the area ranges between $600 and $800. It is not anticipated to be section 8 housing.

As of now, the name of the complex is also up in the air.

“Right now there’s an issue going on about the legal rights of the Lon Morris name. … Right now it’s being called Lon Morris Center,” he said.

Webb said the apartments should be of good quality and will help the neighborhood appreciate in value.

“We have people come by all the time,” he said. “They used to go to school there, they take pictures out front and it still has a lot of memory in people’s hearts.”

The renovation of the dormitories is one of many projects Webb has taken on.

Some of Webb’s other projects include the renovation of the school’s former cafeteria and adjoining ballroom which are complete, and ready to rent out for parties, and the school’s chapel is expected to be fully spruced up by April. Webb said the chapel also will be available to rent for weddings and concerts, and receptions may be held in the ballroom.

Two classroom buildings are also under transformation to house offices and businesses, he said.

For information on the facilities and how to rent them, call Michael Mathis at 903-625-0776.