Riverside office building to see own ‘renaissance’

Riverside office building to see own ‘renaissance’

Six years ago the Jelks Building, a 1939 historic contributing structure that once served as the Riverside Clinic, came close to the threat of the wrecking ball when Carlton Jones of the Renaissance Group eyed the site for a potential new pharmacy with a drive-through lane.

Whether it was the economic downturn or opposition from Riverside Avondale Preservation or neighbors in nearby Park Lane condominium, the Jelks Building lived to see another day.

JeffMorrToday the 18,266-square-foot office building on the corner of Riverside Avenue and Margaret Street has a new lease on life. It was acquired in April by Jeff Morr, a Miami-based real estate broker and investor who had initially began his exploratory acquisition tour downtown.

“I was introduced to Jacksonville by Steve Williams [owner of 5 & Dime in 5 Points], and then taken on a great tour by Matthew Clark, Prime Realty,” said Morr. “I loved the potential of Downtown, but also loved Riverside and when Matt showed me the building at 2008 Riverside, I knew that was the one. It’s a great location with a lot of potential.”

Morr, who has 30 years of real estate experience in South Florida, said of the $1,265,000 purchase decision, “It was a no brainer.”

The Jelks Building, also known as Renaissance at Riverside, was originally built across from Memorial Park as an apartment building. Many doctors moved to that building after Riverside Hospital was redeveloped into the Publix-anchored retail center across the street.

Morr intends to start immediately with interior renovations, but is not going to gut the building; he intends to be thoughtful about the changes.

“It’s a grand old building,” he said. “I’m going to get rid of the carpeting, restore the wood flooring where I can, upgrade the corridors and entrance for a start. There are old bathrooms and kitchens from the 1970s that need to be updated.”

Initially there will be no work to the exterior, other than a new roof and some landscaping, but Morr would like to someday consider utilizing the basement and first floor for street-level retail. There’s a parking lot on the property that has development potential to include a parking garage, said Morr, but that’s a long-term change.

2008Riverside_02           Morr plans to rename the building after his father. “When it’s complete, it will be The DanMorr.”

Currently there are five vacancies in the building which has a total of 10 (?) units and Morr said that Clark has letters of intent from exactly the type of companies he wants to occupy the building – creative-oriented, young and vibrant. “One is for an ad agency and the other is an Internet start-up,” he said.

This is Morr’s first acquisition in Jacksonville, but he said he is looking for other properties.

“People are very welcoming here and they seem ready for fresh ideas,” said Morr. “Like Steve [Williams], I’m not just here to make money, I’m interested in doing the right thing for the community.”

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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