September 28, 2021
Jacksonville — The historic Florida National Bank, the Bisbee and the Florida Life Insurance buildings will finally become something more than vacant.
Last evening, the City of Jacksonville awarded SouthEast Development Group almost $25 million to renovate the three buildings that stand perpendicular on the corners of Forsythe, Adams and Laura streets.
Steve Atkins, the principal and managing director of SouthEast says that for years, he’s worked closely with the downtown investment authority, the Jacksonville City Council and the administration to restore these historic buildings into a Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel - 145 rooms - plus retail stores and bar venues.
“This,” he says, “is the last check in the box to move forward in new construction and rehabilitation of the buildings.”
The trio that presently stand as gutted shells have had an unusual history in their attempts at redevelopment.
According to Atkins, they were owned by the City of Jacksonville and transferred to a police and fireman pension fund. When their attempts to redo the site failed, they were sold to a developer who later defaulted into foreclosure.
SouthEast Development Group purchased the properties from a bank portfolio and wasted no time in their efforts to preserve, restore and revitalize. Atkins says that he’s determined to maintain the building’s “original historic content and character.”
“These properties are among the most significant historic buildings in North Florida,” he said. “They stand in the epicenter of the business district. To preserve and utilize them will be important to the economic and historical context and fabric of downtown.”
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