NJCDC was founded in June 2001 “out of concern for community decline and blight,” according to the organization’s historical narrative. In 2004, NJCDC sold its first home, beginning a track record of addressing neighborhood improvement, blight elimination, and crime reduction by improving the quality of housing stock, leading community engagement activities, and infusing commercial and retail services into the area. To date, the organization has built and sold 72 homes and inspired an additional 122 homes to be built by others within a half-mile radius of its main office. NJCDC also built Northpoint I, a $4 million development that houses a dental clinic, pharmacy, café, NJCDC’s office and other nonprofit and business enterprises.
Early in its history, NJCDC expanded its service geography to include a seven-neighborhood area. Beginning in the late 2000’s as part of recession recovery, the organization received Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funds to purchase, land-bank, rehabilitate, and property-manage homes across this wider geography. NJCDC was also awarded a sizable grant from Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Jacksonville to quarterback a multi-stakeholder community visioning process. Managed by NJCDC’s long-standing chief executive officer (CEO) Paul Tutwiler and a well-respected community based board of directors, these two resources grounded NJCDC and helped the organization sustain itself during a time when many of its peers ceased to exist.
In recent years, NJCDC’s board and CEO refocused the organization’s efforts on real estate development and revitalizing the business and residential community immediately surrounding Northpoint I and its corporate headquarters, which it named the “District of Soul” in honor of the community’s historic roots. This includes the joint-venture development of an 80 - apartment senior living complex; predevelopment work on Northpoint II, which will house the community’s first grocery store, a mass transit hub and other amenities; public “District of Soul” branding signage; and a 10-home affordable for-sale housing development currently under construction; among other efforts. At the same time, the CEO recognizes the value that NJCDC plays around community services and community engagement, as evidenced by the lead role the organization took around hurricane mitigation and relief efforts after Hurricane Irma this year.