The heart of Jacksonville’s downtown could be getting a hotel, apartment space, retail, offices, dining options and a rooftop bar.
Jacksonville’s Downtown Investment Authority recommended Wednesday nearly $10 million in city incentives for the developers of four historic buildings near Hemming Park.
Since 2013, there’s been talk of repurposing the empty buildings, but it hasn’t happened. Now, the Molasky Group and SouthEast Group development companies are partnering on the $79 million project.
The proposed restoration includes the Barnett Bank building and the Laura Street Trio at the corner of Forsyth and Laura streets.
The redevelopment of Barnett Bank building, built in 1926, is estimated to cost $34 million. The proposal is to create two floors of retail, four floors of office space and 110 apartments. Developers would receive $4 million in incentives for this project.
The trio includes the Bisbee Building, the Florida Life Building and the Marble Bank, all built in the early 1900s. The buildings would become a hotel with floors of retail space, a gym, restaurant and rooftop bar. That project is estimated to cost more than $44 million and developers would receive $5.8 million in incentives.
Downtown Investment Authority CEO Aundra Wallace said the city grants wouldn’t be awarded until the projects are done, which could take a couple years.
“Our funding, the public sector investment, only comes in once these particular projects receive a certificate of occupancy and the project is actually completed,” Wallace said.
Wallace said he’s very confident in the development team.
“These four buildings represent old Jacksonville, our history,” Wallace said. “To restore these particular buildings, it’s going to take a public-private partnership to do that.”
Mike Langton owns two downtown buildings and the Volstead bar near the trio. He’s supportive of the project. He said the empty buildings affect his business.
“These black eyes, these buildings right across the street, I mean they’re just vacant with open windows or no windows and it just creates an atmosphere, almost that it’s a dead zone,” he said. “It’s been a struggle to make my building work.”
The city also plans to partner with developers on building a 550-space parking garage on Forsyth to support the new development.
The city incentives plan will go to the mayor’s budget review committee next, then City Council for a final vote.
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Reporter Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at email@example.com, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.