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- 2012 - November - 8th -

$3.3 million ING project approved in Southside

by Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

The City approved a $3.33 million build-out Tuesday for ING U.S. in Southside at Freedom Commerce Centre.

ING U.S. spokesman Joseph Loparco said in October the company decided to condense its space in Freedom Commerce Centre to improve the efficiency of its operations while also allowing for another 30 employees.

Building permit applications show ING will consolidate operations within the four-story, 161,200-square-foot Gunti Building from all four floors to the top two floors and half of the first.

Hardin Construction Co. will renovate 121,293 square feet among the three floors at 8900 Freedom Commerce Parkway, according to the permit.

ING will lease about 98,400 square feet, Loparco said. The additional space in the build-out is for the sprinkler system in the space the company is giving back, he said.

Loparco, head of external communications in Windsor, Conn., for ING U.S., said ING's new lease arrangement was a "right-sizing" and not a downsizing. "Under the current lease, we had significant space that was going unused," he said in an October email.

"The best way to describe this is that we are actually 'right-sizing' to fit our current on-site space requirements. Plus, the new arrangement gives us an opportunity to make some very positive energy-efficient updates to the premises," he said.

Loparco said ING's lease expires Nov. 30. The company reviewed its needs and condensed its space as it renewed its lease. He said its current space requirements reflect the "virtual" employment program, which offers employees the flexibility to work remotely from their homes.

He said about 100 employees will work remotely.

"We're also making some positive, energy-focused improvements to the premises which support our company's commitment to green initiatives," he said.

Loparco said ING has about 570 employees and the renovations will allow for 600. "This allows for the addition of some new call center positions, which we project throughout the rest of the year," he said in October.

ING is a financial, retirement, investment and insurance company. ING U.S. is the U.S.-based operation of ING Groep N.V., which is based in the Netherlands. ING U.S. is based in New York.

ING came to Jacksonville by way of its 2008 acquisition of CitiStreet LLC. ING paid a reported $900 million for the retirement plan and benefit service administration organization, including its operation in Australia. CitiStreet leased the Freedom Commerce Centre building.

Comedy Club renovations OK'd

The City approved renovations for the Comedy Club of Jacksonville at 11000 Beach Blvd. at a cost of $101,800. PB Property Management is the contractor.

Owner Stephen Smith in early October said the 10,400-square-foot space would be renovated into a 300-seat club with a full kitchen and bar.

The website, JacksonvilleComedy.com, describes the club as "focused on great service, delicious food and first-rate adult comedy without much of the vulgarity."

The site and Smith say the comics to be featured have appeared on the David Letterman and Jay Leno shows and on Comedy Central "and provide a nightclub act without the fatiguing repetition of hard-core language and content. Get a Jerry Seinfeld-style of show, not Jerry Springer."

State corporate records show Smith is the owner of the Comedy and Banquet Center of Jacksonville.

Smith said there will be five shows a week Thursday night and two nightly Friday and Saturday. Seats range from $6 to $25, the website shows.

The website said 90 percent of the comics have not performed in Jacksonville.

The website announces comedian Mike Armstrong, a former Louisville, Ky., police officer, will open the club Nov. 16-17. The club says $2 will be donated to the Police Athletic League for every patron who attends the show.

Lachlan Patterson, Ryan Hamilton, Ralph Harris, Jeff Jena and Andrew Kennedy follow.

The menu shows food is $10 and below and features appetizers, salads, "entrees on a shtick" and traditional fare, such as burgers, hot dogs, tacos, a club sandwich and a BLT. There also are desserts. Buffets are available for groups.

Smith said the club will hire 15-20 employees. Jobs are part-time, mostly between 6 p.m.-midnight Thursday-Saturday.

Smith said he's been in Jacksonville for 16 years and spent a few years with The Comedy Zone in Mandarin. He said he has 34 years of experience in radio sales, too.

kmathis@baileypub.com

@MathisKb

(904) 356-2466

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