Law firm has invested millions in its Downtown offices, and now has as new tool to move between them.
The Farah & Farah law firm began in 1979 with just Eddie Farah, who rented a small office in the Florida Theatre building.
Eleven years later, the founder’s brother, Chuck, joined the firm, adding the ampersand to its name. It had grown in terms of attorneys and staff who worked in leased offices in a commercial high-rise on the Southbank.
In 1998, Farah & Farah purchased the historic but boarded-up S.H. Kress Co. building at the corner of Adams and Main streets and remodeled the former department store into a three-story law office that’s the firm’s headquarters today.
It was an investment of about $5 million, Eddie Farah said.
They later bought the abandoned Lerner Shops store next door and when it was determined that the structure, which had been abandoned for decades, wasn’t worth saving, it was removed to make way for a private courtyard that’s used by the attorneys and staff.
In 2011, the Farahs purchased the 10-story building at Forsyth and Laura streets for $4 million.
They remodeled the lobby and installed some exterior enhancements at a cost of about $1.5 million. With the firm continuing to grow, they moved some staff and office functions to the new building.
The Farahs lease space to tenants, including CenterState Bank, which has the naming rights, and to the Bellwether casual restaurant.
Establishing a permanent headquarters and then investing in urban commercial real estate is the natural business path for the firm, said Chuck Farah.
“When you’re a lawyer, you’re never going to want to be anywhere else but Downtown,” he said.
Having offices in buildings two blocks apart and doing business at the Duval County Courthouse, five blocks from the main office, the Farahs recently purchased a covered street-legal electric vehicle for the convenience of attorneys, staff and clients.
“We go from the main office to Laura Street. We can pick up documents at the courthouse or the sheriff’s office and we can use it to pick up clients from wherever they park,” said Eddie Farah.
There are no plans to purchase any more Downtown real estate, but as the firm continues to grow beyond the current level of about 200 attorneys and staff in Jacksonville, the firm will be expanding its operations at Laura Street.
The Farahs plan eventually to move into one of the two remaining unoccupied floors.
The commitment to Downtown extends to selecting vendors, said Eddie Farah.
The firm purchases its office furniture from Perdue Office Interiors, which is based Downtown.
“We believe in doing business with our neighbors,” said Eddie Farah.