Barnett Bank Renovation expecting summer 2015 completion

By Max Marbut – Jacksonville Daily Record

It’s not going to be a restaurant or a nightclub.

It’s not going to be any retail that already is in place Downtown.

It’s not going to be IKEA.

That’s all Steve Atkins, principal and managing director of Southeast Holdings LLC, would say about the retail element of the project to convert the former Barnett Bank Building along West Adams Street into office, classroom, residential and retail space.

Southeast used $3 million in funding from Stache Investments Corp., owned by Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan, to purchase the building a year ago. He’s using the One Spark festival this week as a way to introduce the project to the public.

When the 18-story building opened in 1926, it was Jacksonville’s tallest and remained so until 1954 when the Prudential Building, now the Aetna Building, was constructed along the Southbank. It has been empty since 1991, when Barnett moved a block south into its new 43-story office building, now Bank of America Tower.

Southeast plans to lease the ground floor and mezzanine level to a retail tenant (to be announced within 30 days, Atkins said). The company will develop the upper floors of the building for office space, classrooms for the use of the University of North Florida and 80 apartments for students, building tenants and other residents. The top floor will be a lounge and conference center.

The first business tenants will be CoWork Jax, One Spark Worldwide and the KYN business accelerator that grew out of One Spark, Atkins said.

Danis Building Construction Co. has been selected as the general contractor. The company has a track record of adaptive re-use projects of historic buildings Downtown, including the city’s Jake Godbold Annex along North Laura Street and the conversion of the Kress Building along Adams Street into offices for the Farah & Farah law firm. Danis currently is converting the former Haydon Burns Public Library into the duPont Center for the Jessie Ball duPont Fund.

Atkins said Southeast is not seeking any public grants or incentives for the project.

“The financial structure and the tenant mix allows us to do it without public money,” he said.

Robert Wood, dean of the Division of Continuing Education at UNF, said curricula are under development for courses to be offered at Barnett that will focus on the business, professional and technical fields. The classrooms will be used by UNF’s College of Computing, Engineering and Construction, the Small Business Development Center at UNF and for continuing education.

“With more companies locating Downtown, we wanted them to have better access to UNF programs,” Wood said.

He said the relationship between UNF and the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville has been “fabulous” and creating an urban campus environment at the Barnett is a way to expand UNF’s presence Downtown.

Atkins said Southeast plans to begin the permitting process for the project immediately after One Spark concludes and the ribbon-cutting is scheduled for summer 2015.

“We think we’ve got all the hot buttons covered with higher education, business incubation and the residential component,” he said.

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