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Jax Daily Record Friday, May 14, 202111:01 AM EST

Brooklyn Home2 Suites and mixed-use projects approved

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The Downtown Development Review Board advances the hotel despite staff objections over the parking lot.
by: Mike Mendenhall Staff Writer

The Downtown Development Review Board said a proposed Home2 Suites by Hilton in Brooklyn can have a surface parking lot despite its staff’s objection that it conflicts with the area’s design code. 

The board voted 6-0 May 13 to grant final design approval for the six-story, 100-room hotel at 600 Park St. —  a joint project of Kelco Management and Development Inc. and Corner Lot Development Group.

Driver, McAfee, Hawthorne & Diebenow attorney Cyndy Trimmer, who represents Kelco and Corner Lot, said the structured parking garage required by the Downtown Zoning Overlay would not be feasible or financially viable for the 10,720-square-foot hotel layout.

She also argued the board should consider the type of development in that area of Brooklyn.

“If you go to the block immediately behind us, it’s where Brooklyn begins to transition to these one-and-two-story industrial structures surrounded by surface parking,” Trimmer said.  “This isn’t an area of town that has the dense urban development we’re trying to achieve with this standard.”

DDRB staff recommended the board reject the requested overlay deviation and final design.

The board sided with Kelco and Corner Lot. 

Board members J. Brent Allen said he would have voted against the project if it were closer to the Downtown core but said the vacant site deserved “flexibility” in the code requirements.

Trimmer said Kelco added a ground-floor restaurant with outdoor dining to the hotel plans at the Rosselle and Park streets corner of the building.

Corner Lot Development Group CEO Andy Allen, Kelco’s Home2 project partner, said Nov. 13 they expect to invest $17 million in the hotel.

The hotel will be built on 1.2 acres that currently is a parking lot for GuideWell Inc. employees.

Project designer Kasper Architects expanded the property’s landscaping on Chelsea street to include public art, pavers, benches and flowering trees.

The renovation of the Florida Baptist Convention and Federal Reserve Bank Building includes apartment, restaurant and retail spaces.

Federal Reserve/Florida Baptist Convention properties

The board also issued final approval for JWB Real Estate Capital LLC’s $18.55 million adaptive reuse of the historic Florida Baptist Convention and Federal Reserve Bank Building.

The projects will create a mixed-use block in Downtown’s North Core connected by a courtyard to JWB’s Seminole Building, home of Sweet Pete’s candy shop.

The design for the five-story Baptist Convention property at 218 W. Church St. includes a restaurant space in the basement and ground level, two mercantile suites at the ground-floor entrance and 24 studio and one-bedroom apartments on the upper floors.

The plan for the three-story Federal Reserve Bank Building at 424 N. Hogan St. includes a restaurant, business and banquet space in the mezzanine and third floor.

A courtyard will connect all three properties.

The board approved each project individually in 7-0 and 5-0 votes.

Board member Craig Davisson called the projects a “textbook example” of urban planning.

“You’re actually pulling three projects together to create the better good for the whole area. (It is) the synergy that can make things happen instead of one building as a standalone destination,” Davisson said.

Project architect Brooke Robbins of Robbins Design Studio said that JWB has not signed tenants for the restaurant spaces and will return for the board to approve outdoor signage when the restaurant operators are confirmed. 

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