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Old January 14th, 2004, 03:06 PM   #41
Lakelander
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Old JEA building now hot property

14 January 2004

Because it's near to two courthouses, it's likely to attract law firms.


A Jacksonville developer, hoping to cash in on the new Duval County Courthouse downtown, is close to buying the former JEA building for more than the appraised value.

[b]Trinity Realty Partners' $4 million bid for the 18-story building has preliminary approval from JEA. The building sits on Duval Street, a block from the planned courthouse and across the street from the federal courthouse that opened last year.

The sale is expected to come for a vote by the JEA board Tuesday, utility spokesman Ron Whittington said./b]

The building, which has been vacant since 1987, was appraised at $3.4 million, Whittington said.

The proximity of the building to two downtown courthouses makes it attractive for investment, said Park Beeler, Trinity's chief executive officer.

"In our opinion, the building's time has come," Beeler said.

Trinity plans to lure law firms and other legal businesses who will seek prime office space near the courthouse, Beeler said.

Plans also include retail shops on the ground floor of the building, along with a major restaurant and a fitness center on the fourth floor, Beeler said.


Beeler has been in discussions with stores and potential upscale restaurant tenants for the fourth floor but declined to name them. The full renovation would cost $12 million to $15 million and will include added parking, Beeler said.


existing photo & new rendering of JEA building
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Old January 14th, 2004, 04:39 PM   #42
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ha, i love how renderings always seem to pretend like there are no other buildings around their project.

in any event, contrived though it is, i do like that modern style crown they want to add to the building. it will compliment the style of the federal courthouse, and probably bring the building's legitimate height to over 260 feet (even without that antenna thing).
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Old January 14th, 2004, 06:11 PM   #43
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That's great that it will finally be occupied again.


On the design... I always liked the building as it was -- very retro and clearly from the 1950s -- but the redesign looks pretty cool, too. I think it'll help make that area very attractive. Although, I think someday I'll miss the original 1950s look. Damn!! I just remembered CSX is changing the color of their building! And the City Hall Annex could be demolished in the near future. All we'll have left unchanged from that era is the Prudential. On the other hand, someday when 1950s architecture is more appreciated, they'll probably be much easier to restore than, say, a 1920s highrise that was reclad.

It looks like the 4th floor would be a great place for a restaurant, perhaps with some outdoor seating. I wish they would open up the top floor (the 'sky room' above the service shaft) to the public, as an observation deck or little cafe or something. Buuuuut, it'll probably be some executive's office, like the revolving restaurant on JEA's (current) tower. We need to spread the word that, while it's great to have the bottom floor(s) for retail, SOME of us would like to see similar uses for the top floors, too!
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Old January 14th, 2004, 06:28 PM   #44
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I'm suprised to see this deal materialize so fast. Although I originally thought it would become apartments or condos, I'm happy that this buiding will become "new class 'A' " office space. It also looks like the new Courthouse will go a long way in revitalizing this dreary section of downtown. Hopefully, the former Ambassador Hotel, just up Julia St., will be the next building in line to live again.
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Old January 14th, 2004, 08:37 PM   #45
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Damn, this is turning into a good day. Two more new projects.

New office building planned downtown

14 Jan. 04



A development group intends to build an estimated 100,000-square-foot, nine-floor office building at 323 Duval St. downtown, across from the new Duval County Courthouse site, and another group will decide soon whether it will buy and renovate the neighboring Ambassador Hotel into apartments.

Both development groups are pursuing economic incentives.

The office building, to be called 323 Duval, would be developed by a partnership of three groups -- Easton, Sanderson & Co.; Sofar Properties Inc.; and lawyers Eddie Farah and Chuck Farah. The group also owns the former Marine National Bank building and vacant land on that block.

That group intends to build the office structure on some of the vacant land and maintain the former bank building, which is leased to a communications company. The Farah & Farah firm intends to use at least 30,000 square feet of the new building for its headquarters and about 100 employees.

The developers also intend to build a 207-car parking garage to serve customers, employees and Ambassador tenants.

Sam Easton estimated the office and garage development at $28 million. He said the group would need at least $4 million in assistance from the city to make the office and parking deal work and was asking for tax abatement and other help.

Subject to incentives, he said the group could break ground on the office building by November and complete it in 18 months. "It's not going to happen without the city's assistance," Easton said.


Eddie Farah said the location was good for his practice, which focuses on personal injury representation. "It's important to be near the courthouse," he said, estimating that the firm has about 600 cases in litigation.

He also said that the development would provide adequate parking for clients and employees.

"That's what we like about it. The proximity to the courthouse, the abundance of covered parking and just where it's at," Farah said. Farah & Farah has seven offices in Northeast Florida and is based now in a building it owns at 10 W. Adams St.

Easton explained that Eddie and Chuck Farah own 45 percent of the development; Sofar Properties, comprising Ray Solomon and Fred Farah Sr., own 45 percent; and Easton, Sanderson owns 10 percent.

Meanwhile, Sam Easton owns the 80-year-old Ambassador at 420 Julia St., next to the bank building. He is negotiating to sell it to a group led by Matott Development Co. LLC of Amelia Island.

Managing member John Matott said Wednesday his company and a Cincinnati renovation contractor are studying the deal and if they decide to go forward, they would buy the property as Stonegate LLC. He estimates the acquisition and renovation at $8.5 million and expects to decide by the end of the month whether to pursue the deal.

Matott said he has discussed incentives with downtown development executives, "but we have arrived at nothing at this point." He is considering historic tax credits and city historic funds, if they are available.

Al Battle, executive director of the Downtown Development Authority, said Wednesday that he has met with Easton and Wayne Sanderson as well as with Matott, but that no decisions have been made.

He said that any assistance for an office building would have to consider the stability of the downtown office market and how city assistance for a new building would affect the market.
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Old January 14th, 2004, 08:51 PM   #46
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Thats great news! Its nice to see office development, especially when everything seems to have turned to residential.
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Old January 15th, 2004, 01:37 AM   #47
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JFD, CSX is going to be changing the exterior of their building? Have any renderings come out yet?

I know that a few years ago that the city was offering incentives to CSX to remodel the outside of their tower, but it never happened. Is that why they've decided to go ahead and do it now (city incentives)?
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Old January 15th, 2004, 01:57 AM   #48
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A beige coating will be applied over the turquoise and blue glass panels. The color of this building is a very prominent part of the skyline! This is a ridiculous change. From what I can tell, this was just a decision the company made after moving their headquarters here from Richmond. I don't believe there were any incentives involved.


BEIGE?!?!
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Old January 15th, 2004, 04:41 PM   #49
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Thanks for posting that rendering JFD.

I'm really disappointed in the change that will be made to the building. Just a bland, beige box. I really like the turquois exterior much better (why spend money to change a good thing?), very retro. Plus, it adds color to Jax's skyline just as it is. Once its changed, Jax will lose some of that overall, blue quality it currently has.

At the time that Jax was offering incentives to CSX to renovate the exterior, at least the proposed rendering, then, showed it would retain its blue color and would have a little character in its design. I wish I had that rendering now, so I could post it.
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Old January 16th, 2004, 03:33 PM   #50
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Just an update:

The developers of the proposed office building "323 Duval" also plan to renovate the vacant Ambassador Hotel on the NW corner of the site. For those who aren't familar with this area of JAX, here is an older pick of the Ambassador:


Last edited by Lakelander; January 16th, 2004 at 09:40 PM.
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Old January 16th, 2004, 09:36 PM   #51
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Great news! I love to see beautiful old buildings, like the Ambassador, rescued from neglect, fixed up, and given new life!
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Old January 16th, 2004, 09:41 PM   #52
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JAX ROCKS!!
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Old January 17th, 2004, 02:26 AM   #53
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^It sounds like they're looking to keep it a hotel, which would be AWESOME! Same for the planned hotel in part of the Barnett Building... I think I may finally have an excuse to book a hotel in the city I live in. (if they're affordable). It seems like there would be a market for a small hotel, with the advantage over the modern, highrise hotels being that it's a historic building. I don't know how much of the interior is intact, though.
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Old January 17th, 2004, 08:04 PM   #54
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^ I think they are going to renovate the Ambassador Hotel into apartments. BTW, I just left downtown and I must say it would good to hear the sounds from all the construction activity going on this morning. However, there are a couple of things that caught my eye. The old JEA office site isn't that big. I'm wondering where will the "added parking" come from? Hopefully it won't leaf to the destruction of the Baptist building, next door. I paid close attention to the decaying baptist building. Since its constructed of reinforced concrete, it looks like its still structurally sound even though a portion of the brick veneer wall has fallen off.

The most interesting thing I noticed during my downtown visit, was a sign on an old 6 story brick building (Lerner?) across the street from the Roosevelt hotel on Adams. Sign says there's a public hearing on Jan 28th, about the restoration of this building. I guess PQH Architects is doing the design, since they had a sign on it also.
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Old January 17th, 2004, 09:38 PM   #55
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Ah, I scanned the article and thought I saw the word "Marriott", but it turns out it was "Matott".

^I heard about a developer interested in turning that 6-story Lerner building into lofts, but that was quite a while ago, before the Center Theatre collapsed. I wonder when they'll start work on it?

The 7-story Jones Bros Furniture bldg on Hogan St. also had a loft proposal a couple of years ago, as did the Ambassador hotel.
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Old January 17th, 2004, 10:09 PM   #56
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A Jax Business Journal (Dec. 12-18, 2003 issue) article about downtown's older buildins had a little information about the Jones Furniture Building. it said the partnership that proposed lofts, two years ago, has broken up and one of them is know a partner in the 1661 Riverside development. It also said the Jones Furniture Building has been sold to Christos Hionides, a property developer and owner of Surface Technologies Corp., who intends to develop it into loft apartments, however, there's no date mentioning when this would happen.
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Old January 21st, 2004, 07:42 PM   #57
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quote by JFDinjax
Quote:
^I heard about a developer interested in turning that 6-story Lerner building into lofts, but that was quite a while ago, before the Center Theatre collapsed. I wonder when they'll start work on it?
It looks like this building will be renovated soon. On 9/22/03 this this quote was found in the Jax Daily Record.

Marion Graham, owner of the Lerner building on West Adams Street, said he plans to convert the building for residential use. The ground floor will be reserved for commercial space and tenant parking. The building was recently designated with landmark status.

Another article in the Daily Record says the building is in very good shape and already gutted out meaning it won't take as much time and money to renovate it. So I guess we'll have to keep an eye out for this project in the papers next week after the city meeting.


I can't find a recent pic, but its the 6 story Sterchi's Furniture Store, on the left side of Adams Street, behind Kress and Walgreens, on this postcard.
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Old January 21st, 2004, 08:32 PM   #58
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I've actually had the pleasure of touring the Lerner Building (in the summer of 02). The Daily Record is absolutely correct ... the building is rock solid. No noticeable deterioration at all.

Sadly, there was lots of bad downtown news in the paper today ...

- "Norms Pub & Post" on Laura Street failed. The developer ran out of money and he's being evicted.

- The "River City Band" has also run out of money. They are defaulting on several city loans, and they risk loosing their building downtown (The Old Snyder Memorial Church, on Hemming Plaza).

- The Old Barnett Bank Redevelopment has hit a delay. Work on the condos and boutique hotel was supposed to begin in February. Now work has been set back until November. Obviously, it is one of many projects that will fail to be ready by the Superbowl. (Though I'm not sure if this one ever pretended that it would)

- This isn't downtown, but ... Jax Beach Nimby's prevented the development of upscale 6-story condos on the intracoastal waterway. Right now there's nothing on the site but a crappy restaurant and some parking. Stupid Nimby's.
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Old January 21st, 2004, 09:33 PM   #59
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Here's a little good news

Purchase of JEA building downtown moves ahead

21 January 04

A Jacksonville developer is one step closer to buying JEA's former downtown headquarters, an 18-story building he plans to convert into law offices.

The JEA board signed off Tuesday on selling the building for $4 million to Trinity Realty Partners. The sale did not need board approval, but the board could have stopped the sale Tuesday if it did not like the terms, JEA spokesman Ron Whittington said.

The building was appraised at $3.4 million and has been vacant since 1987. The building's location, on Duval Street a block from the planned Duval County Courthouse and across the street from the new federal courthouse, makes it worth the price, said Park Beeler, Trinity chief executive officer.

The sale is expected to be finalized within the next three months, Beeler said.

Trinity will attempt to attract law firms and other legal businesses who will benefit from being close to the courthouses, Beeler said. Plans for the $12 million to $15 million renovation include additional parking, retail shops on the ground floor and an upscale restaurant on the fourth floor, Beeler said.
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Old January 21st, 2004, 09:52 PM   #60
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quote by Captain Obvious
Quote:
The Old Barnett Bank Redevelopment has hit a delay. Work on the condos and boutique hotel was supposed to begin in February. Now work has been set back until November. Obviously, it is one of many projects that will fail to be ready by the Superbowl. (Though I'm not sure if this one ever pretended that it would)
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Langton gets Barnett extension

21 January 2004

by Tammy Taylor
Staff Writer

LB Jax Development president Mike Langton signed a contract agreement this week, granting an extension for redevelopment plans for the old Barnett Bank Building.
The contract, originally set to expire Feb. 2, has been extended until Nov. 1.
“We needed extra time to put this deal together,” said Langton. “The building’s owners understood that this is a complex, six-pronged project that requires more time to plan.”
Langton wants to convert the building into a retail/residential complex with a hotel, major restaurant, bank and luxury loft apartments.
“The remaining two elements of this deal is that it’s a historic building and it has adaptive zoning elements that include different tax breaks.”
Langton is still in preliminary discussions with the City for incentives to help with the building’s renovations.
“The City is interested and we are looking at what level they can help us with the development of this project,” said Langton.
The application to receive funds from the City must first be approved by the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission, and according to Council member Jerry Holland, who chairs the Land Use and Zoning Committee, “City Council is still waiting on that to happen.”
Langton is also talking with two small boutique hotel chains, two hotel management firms and national lenders and investors for additional monetary backing.
“We want to put a boutique hotel in the building to appeal to the high-end business traveler. That is why we are looking for a smaller, more personal hotel chain or management company.”
In addition to funding concerns, parking remains an obstacle. Langton said they have a specific parking site in mind that will be close to the building, and he is currently negotiating with the owner.
The contact extension is a welcome relief to Langton, but he stresses that renovation work should begin soon.
“I believe strongly in this project and in the viability of the significance of the building,” said Langton. “It needs to be saved before it deteriorates further.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I don't think this is a big deal, just yet. The Barnett wasn't supposed to be completely done by the Super Bowl anyway, since the project is being done in phases. Only the 80 room boutique hotel & restaurant is supposed to open a year from now. I think the developer should take his time and do the project right, instead of rushing it for one week in February. However, I would like to see the Bay Street Town Center get underway soon.
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