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January 10, 2013

City Council rezones so former Lon Morris dorms can be converted to apartments

JACKSONVILLE —

 A former Lon Morris College dormitory in the 500 block of Sunset Street will be converted into a multi-family apartment following a unanimous vote by the City Council Tuesday night.

The change is possible because the dorm never actually belonged to the university.

"It was built with private money and leased to the college," explained Will Cole, public works director for the city.

Because the property belongs to Tilley LLC, the dorm is not subject to seizure and disbursement in an upcoming Jan. 14 bankruptcy auction in Dallas. LMC declared bankruptcy in July.

The dorm had barely been used prior to the bankruptcy, Cole said.

"The students had just moved in," he said. "Everything in there was new."

After the college went into bankruptcy, owner Tilley LLC took control of the property with the intention of combining pairs of the  38 smallish dorm rooms into roughly 22 larger apartments. There are some proposed "double bedrooms" in the plans, each of which will require three dorm rooms to be put together to create, Cole said.

The City Council on Tuesday night made the changes possible agreeing to change the property's zoning from "planned development" to "multifamily."

Located on the edge of campus, the empty, lodge-type dorm was as quiet as the rest of the abandoned Lon Morris College campus Tuesday.

O.H. Seamonds, an owner of Tilley LLC, told the council at Tuesday night's meeting he considers this project a priority because of all the closings caused by the Lon Morris College bankruptcy proceedings.

''The last thing Jacksonville needs is another empty building," Seamonds said.

 

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