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Work could soon begin on removing and re-installing windows in the Barnett Bank building Downtown.
Jax Daily Record Friday, May. 26, 201712:00 PM EST

Barnett Bank building takes step toward revival

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Nearly $1 million in permits sought to begin work on 18-story structure
by: David Cawton Staff Writer

Almost $1 million in initial redevelopment work is pending at Downtown’s Barnett Bank building after decades of dormancy and several false starts.

Owner Barnett Tower LLC, led by developer Stephen Atkins, and Danis Builders LLC filed three permit applications with the city Tuesday for interior and structural work and window replacement on the 18-story structure.

The work is a sign that Atkins and The Molasky Group of Companies want to bring the 155,000-square-foot structure, built in 1926, back to life.

The Molasky Group and Atkins’ SouthEast Development Group propose turning the 112 W. Adams St. building into a mixed-use development with apartments, retail and office space.

Atkins is principal and managing director of SouthEast Development Group.

The three applications totaling $936,051 in construction work comprise:

• $399,250 for structural infill

• $258,700 for non-structural interior demolition

• $278,101 for the removal and re-installation of windows on the third through 18th floors

New windows were installed about 11 years ago during developer Cameron Kuhn’s failed attempt to refurbish the building.

Atkins said that while most of the windows are in good shape and will be put back in, “some of them do need to be replaced.”

Most of the work, he said, speaks to the overall restoration, “where we may need to remove some of the windows temporarily.”

In 2006, the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission awarded Kuhn, CEO of The Kuhn Companies, a $900,000 grant from the Downtown Historic Preservation Trust Fund to replace the original windows.

The grant cut the preservation fund by half, which worried some JEDC members.

Ultimately, Kuhn’s proposed $29 million redevelopment of the Barnett Bank building and the Laura Street Trio across the street failed and he declared bankruptcy, leaving the buildings vacant.

Atkins has been involved with the buildings since about 2010.

He borrowed $3 million from Jaguars owner Shad Khan’s Stache Investments Corp. in 2013 to buy the Barnett building after previous deals fell through with other developers.

However, a Circuit Court judge ruled in favor of Khan’s company in a foreclosure action after Atkins didn’t make payments.

The Las Vegas-based Molasky Group bought the Barnett Bank building from Stache in February for $4 million.

With SouthEast Development Group, which owns the Laura Street Trio, Molasky wants to complete a development agreement with the city that would award $9.8 million in local incentives to launch the project.

Ordinance 2017-403 was introduced last week to council.

“We’re pleased with the efforts from the city,” Atkins said. “We’re hoping this gets moving through the City Council process by June so we can move ahead.”

Atkins said that when finished, the Barnett Bank building will again house a bank, along with office and retail space.

Plans also call for about 100 market-rate apartments.

The Laura Street Trio is slated to become a Courtyard by Marriott hotel, with a bodega market, café, restaurant, and rooftop bar in addition to other retail space.

Atkins said there will be announcements soon about a few prospective tenants.

The plan also includes an $11 million, 550-space parking garage to be built on city property.

The city will operate the garage, lease 250 spots to the developers and leave 300 for other customers.

Together, the four buildings make up about 320,000 square feet in the heart of the urban core — and would represent a significant step forward for Downtown redevelopment.

“It’s been a number of years for me,” Atkins said. “I’m looking forward to getting into the sticks and the bricks finally.”

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