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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Jul. 29, 202111:20 AM EST

Bill introduced for $24.67 million in incentives for Downtown Trio renovation

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City Council could vote in September on a deal with SouthEast Development Group for its hotel, restaurant and retail project. 
by: Mike Mendenhall Staff Writer

A bill to authorize an almost $24.67 million taxpayer incentives package for SouthEast Development Group LLC’s planned renovation of the historic Laura Street Trio is moving through City Council. 

Council President Sam Newby introduced the legislation July 27 at the request of the Downtown Investment Authority.

The Trio buildings, built between 1902 and 1912, are The Florida Life Insurance, Bisbee and Marble Bank buildings at Forsyth and Laura streets. 

Ordinance 2021-0453 would finalize a development agreement with Southeast subsidiary Laura Trio LLC to provide city financing for the estimated $70.48 million proposal to convert the vacant structures into a 145-room Marriott Autograph Hotel with a restaurant, lounge, ground-floor retail space and bodega grocery.

The agreement would allow the hotel room count to be no less than 140 and a minimum 2,000 square feet of restaurant/lounge space and 8,000 square feet of retail uses.

According to a legislative fact sheet attached to the bill, the historic building would house 86 hotel rooms while the remaining ones would be in the addition planned for the northwest corner of the property.

The incentives are structured as two forgivable loans for code compliance and historic restoration/rehabilitation totaling $19.38 million and an almost $5.28 million deferred principal loan. 

The loan package was approved by the DIA board in March and includes: 

• A $9.377 million five-year forgivable loan.

• A $10 million five-year forgivable code compliance loan.

• A $5.279 million deferred principal loan.

The city would require SouthEast to make annual interest payments on the deferred principal loan with the balance due after 10 years.

The proposed development agreement has clawback measures for the city to recoup the forgivable loans should SouthEast sell or refinance the Trio buildings in the 10 years the incentives are active. 

SouthEast told city officials it wants to break ground on the restoration and construction in 2021.

Dasher Hurst Architects designed the project and Danis Construction is the general contractor.

The bill and $24.67 million incentives package will be debated by the Council Finance and Neighborhoods, Community Services, Public Health and Safety committees before it reaches the full Council. 

The final vote would take place by Sept. 14.

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