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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Apr. 21, 202206:00 PM EST

DDRB advances new design for Jones Bros. Furniture building

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Corner Lot Development Group CEO Andy Allen said the company is finalizing the budget for what could be a $35 million to $40 million project.
by: Mike Mendenhall Associate Editor

The city Downtown Development Review Board advanced plans by Corner Lot Development Group to adapt the historic Jones Bros. Furniture Co. structure and build an eight-story addition for apartments and retail use. 

The board voted 5-0 on April 21 for conceptual design approval on what Corner Lot CEO Andy Allen estimates is a $35 million to $40 million project. 

Representatives for Corner Lot and project architects Bold Line Design LLC and Robbins Design Studio detailed plans for what they have branded The Jones at Hogan.

The project in Downtown’s North Core would restore and adapt the 96-year-old historic Jones Bros. building at 520 N. Hogan St. to house 29 studio and one-bedroom apartments, according to a DDRB staff report.

The seven-story, 38,000-square-foot structure was built in 1926 and was a retail furniture store until the late 1980s. 

The historic Jones Bros. Furniture building would be transformed into apartments and the Farah’s Uptown Deli property would be torn down for an apartment tower under the Corner Lot plan.

The project’s eight-story, 145,000-square-foot addition would comprise 74 apartments, a 143-space parking garage and ground-floor retail along Church and Hogan streets, the report says.

Board member Joseph Loretta recused himself from the vote because his employer, HALFF Associates Inc., is the project’s engineer. 

Bill Schilling also abstained from the vote because his engineering firm, Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc., is working on other Corner Lot projects. 

Board members Matt Brockelman and Brenna Durden were absent for the vote.

The project will return to the board for final design approval before Corner Lot can break ground. 

According to the staff report and project renderings, parking will be on the second through fourth floors and the outdoor amenity terrace on the fifth floor will have space for outdoor grills, lounging and dining areas. 

Corner Lot told the review board it intends to repaint and relight the historic Jones Bros. Furniture signs on the building, as well as repaint and tuckpoint the brick by removing old mortar from joints and replacing it, and add facade uplighting and a new entry canopy. 

“The new mixed-use development provides a recess next to the Jones Bros Furniture Building to honor its historical significance and signify a distinction between the two buildings,” the renderings say.

Board debate

The board members overall praised the project during the April 21 meeting, although Craig Davisson said he would like to see the new construction design simplified before it returns for final review to be less “busy.” 

Davisson, an architect and principal for Studio9 Architecture, said the design can pay homage to the historic Jones Bros. building in a “more sophisticated way.” 

He said the design is “not far off” from the look he would prefer but the building’s accents and stripes in the renderings are “completely overcooked.” 

“The building, when I see it, just the image it gives off,  it kind of utilizes all the trendy architecture you see today. And I’m saying this a lot, it’s already dated before it’s built,” Davisson said.

The site plan for the apartments. Bold Line Design is working on the new construction and Robbins Design Studio the historic Jones Bros. Furniture building.

Board Chair Trevor Lee disagreed and said the project design fits in well with the surrounding neighborhood. Lee praised plans for The Jones at Hogan’s new construction to integrate parking, retail and residential in one structure, calling it “very difficult to do.” 

In its report, DDRB staff said The Jones at Hogan design team should plan a mural or install a living green wall on a tall partition planned to block traffic at the parking garage entrance from the sidewalk. 

The renderings show a blank wall. 

Allen said he sees The Jones at Hogan as a catalyst project and a “flagship and banner development” for higher quality architectural design in future Downtown development projects. 

Bruce Werner, Bold Line Design principal architect, said the developer plans to build the addition with precast concrete.

Bold Line Principal Architect Matthew Snyder said the project team also is talking with JEA to cool the development using the utility’s chilled water service. Corner Lot said that would reduce the amount of rooftop HVAC equipment needed.

Next steps

Allen said he expects to meet with city Downtown Investment Authority representatives about seeking a multifamily property tax refund and historic preservation and code compliance forgivable loans to help finance the project. 

“We look at this as a private-public partnership,” Allen said.

To clear the property for the new construction, the developer wants to demolish the former Farah’s Uptown Deli building at Hogan and Church streets. 

According to DDRB staff, the former Farah’s Uptown Deli is not designated a local landmark but is listed as a contributing building within the Downtown Jacksonville Historic District.

An artist's rendering of the The Jones at Hogan. (Bold Line Design)

Driver, McAfee, Hawthorne & Diebenow partner attorney Cyndy Trimmer represents the Corner Lot-led team for the project. 

She told the board Corner Lot must be approved by the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission to demolish the former Farah’s Deli building.

DDRB staff also wants Corner Lot to negotiate with the DIA to acquire an adjacent 0.17-acre parcel on Ashley Street owned by the city that is included in the building plans. 

Trimmer said Corner Lot has talked with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department about the lot that it uses for employee parking. 

Corner Lot intends to offer JFRD spaces in The Jones on Hogan parking garage, she said.

Depending on the land acquisition and DIA incentive and city permitting approvals, Allen wants to break ground by October. He said The Jones on Hogan should take 18 to 20 months to complete. 

Years in the making 

Allen and Elias Hionides, his development partner on the project, have worked on the Jones Bros. plan since 2018. 

Hionides is vice president of real estate company and property manager Petra.

Duval County property records show the 0.17-acre Farah’s Uptown Deli property is owned by Mandarin Emporium Inc. and the 0.13-acre Jones Bros. site is owned by OUR Properties Inc. 

Those companies are controlled by Elias Hionides’ father, Chris Hionides.

A previous agreement between the DIA and ACE JAX LLC, co-managed by Allen and Hionides, called for the city to convey the vacant city-owned lot to the company. 

At the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, DIA CEO Lori Boyer granted ACE JAX’s request for a force majeure suspension on its $2.25 million incentives deal approved in 2019 to renovate Jones Bros.

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