Plans for Downtown include restaurants, hotels and more

Plans for Downtown include restaurants, hotels and more

Commercial developer shares positive economic impact

By Nancy Lee Bethea
The Resident Community News

Like brittle bones, the Laura Street Trio – the Marble Bank Building, the Florida Life Building and the Bisbee Building – plus the old Barnett Bank Building, now has hope of receiving a marrow transplant.

On Thursday, Sept. 26, Stephen Atkins, Principal and Managing Director of the SouthEast Group, shared a bright future for the buildings at the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors meeting held at EverBank on Riverside Avenue.

Earlier this year, Atkins’ company, SouthEast Group, purchased the buildings with backing from Jaguars owner Shad Khan. Two of the historic edifices – Bisbee and Florida Life – were built by Jacksonville architect Henry John Klutho, who helped rebuild the city after the 1901 fire.

Atkins will pursue registering the buildings with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The organization has labeled them the most important non-reconditioned buildings in the Southeastern United States.

“These types of  projects are  challenging for  everybody because of the costs associated. The City of Jacksonville is  helping, though, and being able to bring in companies like Marriott helps.” Stephen Atkins Principal and Managing Director, SouthEast Group

“These types of projects are challenging for everybody because of the costs associated. The City of Jacksonville is helping, though, and being able to bring in companies like Marriott helps.”
Stephen Atkins
Principal and Managing Director, SouthEast Group

Bisbee, Florida Life and a new structure not yet built will become part of a Courtyard by Marriott hotel. The ground floor of the Bisbee will house one restaurant while the iconic Marble Bank Building will become an upscale restaurant on ground level with wine vaults and private dining rooms below ground, according to Atkins.
As the official hotel sponsor for the National Football League, Courtyard by Marriott will cater to football fans and offer sports-themed programming, Atkins said. The hotel chain has refurbished

historic buildings in other cities, such as Boston and San Diego. The Courtyard by Marriott in downtown Tulsa, OK, is housed in the Atlas Life Building, a structure similar to Jacksonville’s Florida Life Building, Atkins added.

In addition to housing a portion of the hotel, the new structure located on the corner of Adams and Laura streets will include a commercial bank and a rooftop bar to help revitalize the area. To provide parking, a 140-space garage will be constructed between Forsyth to Adams streets.

The Barnett Bank Building will be transformed into a center for higher education, according to Atkins, housing well-known universities with classrooms and dormitories. “It will be a whole new central hub for downtown,” he added.

After spending four years on the project, Atkins is optimistic about its economic impact. He foresees a boost of almost $100 million dollars for Jacksonville and the regional economy.
Even so, revitalization efforts can be difficult. “These types of projects are challenging for everybody because of the costs associated,” Atkins said. “The City of Jacksonville is helping, though, and being able to bring in companies like Marriott helps.”

Currently, Atkins is working through regulatory processes with the City of Jacksonville. Plans are underway to start construction during the first quarter of 2014. Atkins hopes the hotel will be in service by early 2016.

“It’s exciting to see this kind of change in Jacksonville,” Atkins said. “I was born and raised here. Jacksonville has all the potential in the world.”

 

The Economic Impact
Presented by Stephen Atkins, SouthEast Group

During Construction

• $44.2 million in new investment to Downtown Jacksonville
• Annual construction payroll of $6.6 million for construction jobs
• $1.2 million in public revenues from additional sales from construction  through Operations
• $16.9 million in new retail sales annually
• 127 new permanent jobs with annual payroll of $2.6 million
• $900,000 annually in additional local government revenues from real estate, sales and hotel taxes
• Equates to $9.7 million over 10 years to City of Jacksonville and Duval County Public Schools

Total Economic Impact   
(direct and indirect)

• $94.6 million to Jacksonville and regional economy
• $14.1 million in annual regional spending
• 223 new jobs in the regional economy with $5 million in annual payroll impact

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