The Downtown Development Review Board approved the historic renovation of the Laura Street Trio for the concept.
The board voted 8-0 during its February 11 meeting to advance developer SouthEast Development Group LLC’s estimated $ 70.4 million plan to convert the three vacant core urban structures into a 146-room hotel and restaurant – and convert retail space.
The Southern Group’s board member Matt Brockelman is a lobbyist for SouthEast. He withdrew from the vote.
The project will be sent back to the board for final approval before work can begin.
During his presentation, project architect Tom Hurst of Dasher Hurst Architects said that the eight-story expansion of the historic trio would be necessary to bring the proposed hotel to 146 rooms and be financially viable.
Hurst said SouthEast’s design team and chief executive Steve Atkins want the layout to highlight the three historic buildings – Florida Life, Bisbee, and Marble Bank – that make up the trio at 51 W. Forsyth St.
“We want to make sure we’re respectful of the existing historic buildings and we’re not trying to overwhelm them,” said Hurst. “We could probably have designed a 20-story skyscraper here, and we could have made the numbers work better. But we want to pay homage to them. “
| The view of the Laura Street Trio from Adams and North Laura Streets. The glass structure is the hotel.
Floor plans show 4,021 square feet in the hotel and 4,253 square feet in the Bisbee building, which Atkins and Hurst said will be a bodega grocery store. Both are on the ground floor.
The proposed restaurant in the Marble Bank Building is 5,764 square feet.
Hurst said on Feb.11 it would be a steak and seafood establishment run by hotel operator Winegardner & Hammons Hotel Group LLC.
The restaurant will be open to non-hotel guests, according to SouthEast.
A 3,350 square meter bar on the roof and a restaurant on the eighth floor of the hotel are planned.
Hurst said the team of architects wanted the hotel to be “clean and modern” but to be coordinated with the historic structures through material patterns and tones.
“I think it’s really nice,” said chairman Trevor Lee.
“The entire retail trade on the ground floor, the sensitivity to the architecture and the sensitivity to the historical nature of all three buildings set the bar for DDRB applications really high. I wish we’d seen this quality every time someone submitted, ”he said.
SouthEast is planning an outdoor piazza with shady trees, outdoor seating and public art, and a vehicle drop-off area on the Adams Street side.
According to the board report, the first floor retail space will have multiple entrances on Laura Street and all three buildings will retain their historic entry points.
Parking is offered in the VyStar Credit Union proposed garage on the corner of Laura and Forsyth Streets, Hurt said.
The Trio Buildings, constructed between 1902 and 1912, are historic buildings that add to the National Register District in downtown Jacksonville, according to a presentation by SouthEast.
Atkins is partnering with Marriott Hotels International Inc. to designate the trio as one of the company’s Autograph Collection of hotels.
Atkins has followed the restoration of the Laura Street Trio for nearly 11 years. Prior to the presentation, he noted that the first letter he wrote to a bank to purchase the buildings was sent in November 2009.
“Mr. Atkins, you really killed Goliath on this project,” said board member J. Brent Allen.
“I wish many developers in this city were as persistent as you. As a lifelong resident of Jacksonville, I really hope you will find your name infused into a few other projects we have in town too. “