Northeast Florida Roundup
Off the waterfront: A plan for downtown Jacksonville
Hopes are high for the latest effort to redevelop four downtown properties.
While much of the redevelopment effort for downtown Jacksonville focuses on the riverfront, Steve Atkins is looking a few blocks inland.
“We haven’t had anything done from a re- tail standpoint in the core of downtown,” says Atkins. “That’s been a challenge, to make an impactful change in the core.”
Atkins’ company, Southeast Development, is partnering with the Molasky Group to renovate three buildings more than a century old known as the Laura Street Trio, plus a 91-year-old, 18-story building that was once the home of Barnett Bank.
The city council approved $9.8 million in incentives for the $78-million project, which includes office space and apartments in the Barnett building. The other three buildings will be redeveloped into a hotel, restaurants and offices.
The city is giving the developers five years to complete the project, but Atkins says it will be finished well before that. Work is beginning on the Barnett building, which is expected to take 14 to 16 months, and the 22-month project to renovate the Trio buildings will begin once the Barnett project is halfway done, he says.
Several companies have attempted to develop the properties since the turn of the century. Aundra Wallace, CEO of the Downtown Investment Authority, is optimistic about this plan because the incentive package is backloaded, to be paid off if the project is completed on time.
“They’ve got to perform in order to get the incentives,” he says.
Wallace says he’s looking forward to the results. “It removes four blighted structures within the heart of the urban core and brings them into productive use.”