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Cowford Chophouse To Begin Restoring 'Jaguar Building'

Restoration of a historic downtown landmark is set to begin in earnest. Jacksonville city officials and the owners of the new Forking Amazing Restaurants group laid out their plans this Tuesday for the Bostwick Building at the corner of Bay and Ocean streets.

The building is more commonly known by its informal name, 'The Jaguar Building', for its mural of a giant jaguar peering out the windows of the building. The mural was painted in 1995 by Jacksonville artist Jim Draper.

CEO Jacque Klempf called the century-old structure the entryway to the city.

“When we get to the finish line, the Cowford Chophouse will have two floors including a rooftop lounge with spectacular views of our city,” Klempf said.

A $500,000 grant and a $250,000 low-interest loan from the Downtown Investment Authority will help pay for the renovations. Authority Chairman Oliver Barakat says restoring the Bostwick Building sends an important message to the owners of other rundown historic properties in Jacksonville.

“The city has resources to help business owners and developers revitalize and invest in these buildings. We understand these buildings are difficult to preserve,” Barakat said. “We have resources to help business owners and developers preserve them and we have the staff and leadership to do it.”

Work on the Bostwick Building is set to begin next month.  The Cowford Chophouse is slated to open next summer. The mural panels are covered by protective sheets and will be sent to Draper once the windows are replaced.

Cyd Hoskinson began working at WJCT on Valentine’s Day 2011.