Britt buys land to expand concert parking

JACKSONVILLE — Britt Festivals has purchased two properties near its concert grounds to provide parking for its patrons. It's the first property the organization has ever owned.

There's no time line for the development of the sites, said Britt Executive Director Donna Briggs.

"It's completely contingent upon working with the city of Jacksonville on the plans and (the festival arranging) funding," said Briggs.

Sale deeds were recorded earlier this week for a .34-acre lot at 410 S. First Street that includes a residence and for an adjacent .38-acre vacant lot. The festival grounds sit on the west side of First Street, north of the properties.

Discussions at board and staff levels have taken place since the 1990s on acquiring properties to help with parking issues. Currently, concert-goers park throughout the city and the summer invasion of vehicles often raises hackles among residents.

Britt's master plan included purchase of the properties if they became available. The master plan was approved under a conditional use permit granted by the city for festival operations.

"My assumption is that this is just following along with their master plan to mitigate some of the parking impact for the residents and the city in general," said City Councilman David Jesser, who is chairman of the Parking Commission. "It seems like a good thing."

Britt paid a total of $417,000 for both properties, said Briggs. The purchase was made with money from Britt's building fund and a $171,000 mortgage. The building fund, created with earned revenue, was established in 1996 to fund property purchases and for capital improvements .

The house was purchased from Donald and Jo Anne Gordon, who no longer live there. Built in 1966, the 1,755-square-foot house and lot have a $235,000 real market value, according to Jackson County assessment records. Britt will rent the house and the income will make the purchase self-sustaining.

Britt supporter Anne Brooke Hawkins and her late husband, Mike, granted the festival purchase rights to the vacant lot in 2000.

"Our dedication to both Britt and the city of Jacksonville prompted this decision to help assure that appropriate parking and green space were available," said Anne Hawkins.

Currently zoned for residential use, a change in the lot's status would have to be approved by the city. Planning Director Amy Stevenson was out of town and unavailable to comment on what steps would be required.

"We will begin discussion with the city and the county soon, preferably before the end of year," said Briggs. "It's is certainly our hope that ... this will help alleviate some of the challenges associated with parking."

An engineering consultant will be hired for a feasibility study on parking options, said Briggs. The festival will work with designers and architects to come up with a landscape that would be an enhancement to the natural beauty of the neighborhood, she added.

Britt has a long term lease for the festival grounds with Jackson County. It leases office space in Medford.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at

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