City Council Approves Laura Street Trio Redevelopment

City Council Approves Laura Street Trio Redevelopment
Rendering (courtesy of SouthEast Development Group)

After decades of neglect and several false starts, The Laura Street Trio is a step closer to being revitalized.

The Jacksonville City Council has approved a $24.7 million incentive package with SouthEast Development Group LLC to renovate the Florida Bank Building, the Florida Life Building and the Bisbee Building into a 145-room Marriott Autograph Hotel along with ground-floor retail, a restaurant, a lounge and a specialty food store.

The Trio are part of the National Jacksonville Historic District and were built from 1902 and 1912 as the city rebuilt after The Great Fire. 

“Downtown Jacksonville is one step closer to regaining use of its most significant historic buildings,” said Steve Atkins, Principal and Managing Director of SouthEast Development Group.”I appreciate the Council’s consideration. I appreciate DIA (Downtown Investment Authority) and the hard work that they did and most importantly I appreciate the leadership that the Mayor put forward and his commitment to downtown development.”

Current Trio
Current Trio

According to SouthEast the redevelopment plans for the Laura Street Trio include:

Historic Florida National Bank Building: 18,216 square feet over two stories and a basement, to include a 7,442-square-foot, basement-level private dining and wine cellar space; 7,069 square feet on the first floor for restaurant operations; and an additional 3,615 square feet of restaurant operating space.

Historic Bisbee Building: 42,333 square feet over 10 stories, with mechanical operations in the basement; a 4,401-square-foot food and convenience store on the ground floor; a 4,401-square-foot conference center on the second floor; and eight floors of hotel rooms.

Historic Florida Life Insurance Building (Marble Bank Building): 26,803 square feet over 11 stories. It will include a media theater in the basement; 2,205 square feet of lobby/business center space on the ground floor; a 2,205-square-foot fitness and media center on the second floor; and nine floors of hotel rooms.

SouthEast will build a new eight-story building that will provide ground-level retail, six floors of hotel rooms and a rooftop bar. An 11-story circulation core will add 2,012 square feet of lobby space on the first floor. Adkins said bringing the three buildings into one project has been difficult.

“(We have) three buildings, they’re all built at different times. Three different elevations. All of that has to be taken into account when you are not just putting them back together but making them work together,” he said.

Adkins said the new buildings will be contemporary in their design but will complement the existing structures.

Jacksonville historian Wayne Wood said the Laura Street Trio is the most significant architectural grouping in downtown Jacksonville and he is delighted they will finally be getting renovated.

“The buildings are so architecturally and historically important they can’t be torn down, but yet they are in too horrible shape to leave them as they are if there is any glimmer of hope for downtown redevelopment,” he said. “These buildings are difficult to redevelop because of their narrow footprint.” Wood said that’s why there needed to be a generous incentive package to get the deal completed.

Wood says it’s a unique grouping of buildings that most people don’t realize just how special it is to have in Jacksonville.

“In most downtown metropolises, the tallest building is usually on the corner and so it blocks the two buildings on the other side,” he said.’But here we have just the opposite. We have a beautiful classical building on the corner allowing you to see the two skyscrapers framing it on either side and it makes a wonderful composition that’s fairly unique in the southeast.”

Adkins said Cincinnati-based Winegardner & Hammons will be operating the restaurants and bars on the site. He said there will be some third-party retail but none of that will be finalized until much closer to the opening.

Adkins said construction is expected to begin this fall and will take about two years to complete.

By Kevin J. Meerschaert
Resident Community News

Rendering (courtesy of SouthEast Development Group)
Rendering (courtesy of SouthEast Development Group)
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