The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is leasing space inside the Florida Blue Riverside Office Complex at 532 Riverside Ave. in Brooklyn. | Jacksonville Daily RecordThe Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is leasing space inside the Florida Blue Riverside Office Complex at 532 Riverside Ave. in Brooklyn. | Jacksonville Daily Record
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is leasing space inside the Florida Blue Riverside Office Complex at 532 Riverside Ave. in Brooklyn. | Jacksonville Daily Record

Sheriff’s Office nears move to former Florida Blue site

Published on June 6, 2024 at 1:59 pm

Hundreds of Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office investigators and staff are preparing for a big move this fall.

Homeland Security and countless other police services will move from the 47-year-old Police Memorial Building on East Bay Street to four floors of the former Florida Blue Riverside Office Complex on Riverside Avenue.

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The move will cost about $7 million and includes security modifications to the Florida Blue building, which Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida still owns. The new offices should be ready for occupancy in late October.

The move becomes Phase I of the eventual relocation of Jacksonville’s police headquarters to the Brooklyn community, said Sheriff’s Office Director Jennifer Short. The rest of the Sheriff’s Office will eventually move to the former Florida Blue facility in Phase II, Short said.

“We have outgrown this building, to say the least,” Short said. “We have tried to renovate, to find little nooks and crannies in here to accommodate more personnel, and we just have simply outgrown it, and Homeland security on their end as well. … We have new firearms labs and more personnel.”

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The move to a larger, permanent police headquarters comes as the city studies the construction of a new jail to replace the current overcrowded Downtown facility, a project that could cost $1 billion, officials said. Mayor Donna Deegan said she sees the Sheriff’s Office’s move to Riverside Avenue as a necessity and understands the issues its staff face with its 47-year-old headquarters.

“I think we have all seen that building, and we have all seen what the jail looks like, and we have all seen where they have to be,” Deegan said. “I think it certainly makes sense that they would want to be someplace else. Obviously the next thing we will be looking at is going to the new jail. We will see how it goes next.”

Florida Blue began moving its Riverside headquarters to Deerwood Park North in 1997. The move was completed a few years ago after the full campus was renovated. That left lots of space at its two-building complex in Brooklyn, with a 10-story center and adjacent 22-story tower.

The Sheriff’s Office has about 3,500 employees, including almost 2,000 police and corrections officers. The current facility opened in 1977 at 501 E. Bay St., replacing the former police headquarters at 711 Liberty St.

As the Sheriff’s Office grew, each of its six police zones established substations in their communities. But the current facility has outgrown its staff, vehicles and more, Short said. So about three years ago, the department’s Homeland Security division began seeking a new home because of its expanding divisions, she said.

“They looked at numerous properties throughout the city,” Short said. “There was a feasibility study conducted in 2022, and after several months of looking for a location, they decided on Florida Blue. In the course of that process, it was determined that there was quite a bit of space over there that could accommodate the rest of JSO as well.”

The Jacksonville City Council approved a lease nine months ago for 15 years with two five-year extensions. The lease includes space in the parking garage and four floors, or about 60,000 square feet of the total 571,459-square-foot facility, according to the Jacksonville Daily Record, a Jacksonville Today news partner.

Renovations to the Florida Blue site will include dedicated parking, a separate lobby entrance with security measures and work to prepare for the labs and detective offices. The building still has other tenants, but police will have separate restricted access when they share the same floors.


author image Reporter, WJCT News 89.9 Dan Scanlan is a veteran journalist with almost 40 years of experience in radio, television, and print reporting. He has worked at various stations in the Northeast and Jacksonville. Prior to joining the WJCT News team, Dan spent 34 years at The Florida Times-Union as a police and current affairs reporter.
author image Reporter, WJCT News 89.9 Dan Scanlan is a veteran journalist with almost 40 years of experience in radio, television, and print reporting. He has worked at various stations in the Northeast and Jacksonville. Prior to joining the WJCT News team, Dan spent 34 years at The Florida Times-Union as a police and current affairs reporter.

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