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Jax Daily Record Monday, Jul. 12, 202102:28 PM EST

$24.67 million Laura Street Trio incentives deal advances to Council

SouthEast Development Group LLC wants to break ground on the $70.48 million restoration hotel and retail project in 2021.
by: Mike Mendenhall Associate Editor

A $24.67 million taxpayer incentives package for SouthEast Development Group LLC’s plans to renovate the historic Laura Street Trio Downtown is headed to City Council. 

The Mayor’s Budget Review Committee voted 7-0 on July 12 to approve the Downtown Investment Authority’s request to file legislation to approve the agreement. 

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

SouthEast’s $70.48 million proposal would convert the vacant structures into a 145-room Marriott Autograph Hotel with a restaurant, lounge, ground-floor retail and a bodega grocery.

The buildings are historic and part of the Downtown Jacksonville National Register District.

Plans also call for an eight-story addition to complete the hotel.

A legislative fact sheet in the meeting packet says SouthEast agrees to have no less than 140 hotel rooms in the project with 86 rooms in the historic buildings. The remaining rooms would be in the addition planned for the northwest corner of the property. 

An artist's rendering of the restored Laura Street Trio,

The restaurant/lounge space will be 21,000 square feet in the Marble Bank building open to the public and a minimum 8,000 square feet of retail space, according to city documents.

The construction 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.

If approved by Council, it would be the biggest award issued so far by the DIA’s 9-month-old Downtown Revitalization and Rehabilitation program.

Committee chair and city Chief Administrative Officer Brian Hughes said the proposed Trio loans show Mayor Lenny Curry’s support for adaptive reuse projects and  “keeping the historic flavor of our Downtown.”

“But that type of development has extra layers of economic challenge, so these programs are built for that very reason,” Hughes said.

Under the agreement, the city will not disburse the loans until construction is complete. 

The developer is required to repay the $5.27 million deferred principal loan over 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. 

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.

City lawmakers are on a two-week summer recess so the earliest the Trio bill could be introduced is July 27. It could get an up-or-down vote by the full Council in early September. 

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