July 12, 2004 - A seven-year effort to completely makeover one of Jacksonville's poorest neighborhoods was recognized through a 2004 Florida Community Development Achievement Award made to the City by the Florida Community Development Association at its annual statewide conference in July. The Royal Terrace Neighborhood received over $20 million in HUD Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds over this seven-year period. Other HUD program funds, state funds, revenue bond resources, Small Business Administration loans, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services funds, Duval County Health Department funds, corporate donations, faith based and foundation donations, and private investment supplemented this funding bringing the total investment to $25,112,424.
Jacksonville Community Development staff sponsored Rally Day in Royal Terrace to kick-off the Comprehensive Neighborhood Improvements.
The City undertook major infrastructure improvements including the provision of sewer lines, upgraded water services, a master storm water facility, major drainage improvements, curbs, gutters, sidewalks and resurfaced or rebuilt all the streets.
As these infrastructure improvements progressed, the City also addressed the severe housing problems in Royal Terrace. Clearance and demolition of 17 unsafe houses was completed. An apartment complex in the neighborhood was completely renovated and a family development center was added. A utility hook up grant program connected 75 houses; land was purchased and used by Habijax, the local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity to construct 214 new homes. Seventy-two existing homes were rehabilitated through the City's CDBG -assisted Limited Repair Program. Other improvements included development of a new neighborhood park and the provision of a community center and health and dental clinic.
Renovated Royal Terrace Plaza houses new small businesses.
To assist in the provision of job opportunities within the neighborhood itself, two nearly vacant shopping centers were renovated and occupied by new neighborhood businesses.
The Florida Community Development Association recognized Jacksonville's Royal Terrace Comprehensive Improvement Program as a model for cities wishing to completely transform low-income neighborhoods. Mixing and matching a variety of resources, intensely focusing those resources in a defined area, and insuring active community involvement in all aspects of the neighborhood's transformation made the Royal Terrace makeover a success for everyone.