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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Dec. 31, 202002:42 PM EST

Hanania group buys Downtown Title & Trust Building

The automobile dealership owner paid $1.8 million for his second core city investment and anticipates more acquisitions.

Automobile dealership owner Jack Hanania and real estate investment partner Joe Hassan paid $1.8 million Dec. 28 for the Title & Trust Company of Florida Building Downtown.

Duval County property records show the three-story, 12,000-square-foot building at 200 E. Forsyth St. was built in 1920, although its National Register of Historic Places registration form says it was developed in 1929.

Jack Hanania

“I grew up in Jacksonville and I want to do my part to preserve Downtown Jacksonville,” Hanania said.

CenterState Bank in Jacksonville financed the purchase with a mortgage of $1.35 million.

Curtis Fallgatter

Attorney Curtis Fallgatter leads 200 East Forsyth Street Inc., which sold the structure to Hanania and Hassan. He bought it in 1998 for $750,000 from lawyers Tyrie A. Boyer and Tyrie W. Boyer.

Fallgatter is a partner with criminal defense and personal injury law firm Fallgatter Catlin & Varon, which will continue to lease the building.

He said he continues to occupy, maintain and manage the property through at least an eight-year leaseback, and possibly for 15 years.

“We will continue operating as a status quo here,” he said of his firm and his eight to 10 tenants.

He said his tenants are law firms that he has known for years. “This is a home to all of us and I want to keep it that way,” Fallgatter said.

He said he knew he couldn’t own the building forever. He said he was approached by a real estate group that could market the building, “and they thought the timing was good.”

Fallgatter said he worked with the Marcus & Millichap brokerage firm, which identified potential buyers.

Fallgatter said his goal was to “get it to other folks who respect the historical nature of the building.”

“The motivation here is I have two gentlemen who respect historic property in Downtown Jacksonville,” he said of Hanania and Hassan.

The three-story, 12,000-square-foot Title & Trust Company of Florida Building.

“I felt privileged to be the custodian of a historic building,” Fallgatter said. “I think it’s probably the prettiest building in town.”

Fallgatter was a federal prosecutor in Jacksonville for 17 years, including as chief assistant, before leaving to join private practice in 1994. He opened his own firm in 1995.

The registration form filed in 1990 with the National Register of Historic Places details the history of the building at Forsyth and Newnan streets.

The Marsh & Saxelbye architectural firm designed the building in Neoclassical style as two stories with a mezzanine and a basement.

The Title & Trust Company of Florida played a critical role in the development of commercial real estate in Jacksonville after the Great Fire of 1901, during the land boom of the 1920s and through the Great Depression, the form said.

The company’s origins date to 1887 when local residents formed a predecessor firm, Florida Abstract and Title Security Co. Former city treasurer James Spratt bought that company and had duplicate copies of most of the county’s land ownership records.

The Great Fire destroyed the county courthouse. As the fire spread to the abstract company’s Market Street building, Spratt and his employees loaded the records on a sailboat moored in the St. Johns River.

Spratt’s collection became the principal means of establishing title to Duval County real estate, confirmed by the Florida Legislature.

The Title & Trust Company of Florida, chartered in 1922, absorbed the abstract company. It developed the building in 1929 and maintained fireproof steel vaults.

The Title & Trust Company of Florida Building is east of the Florida Theatre.

Its structural system is steel frame encased in concrete.

“It’s like a bunker,” Hanania said.

Hanania and Hassan bought the property through Ten-H2 Investments LLC. It is their second investment Downtown.

Through Ten H Investments LLC, Hanania and Hassan bought the historic Dyal-Upchurch Building Downtown in December 2017. They paid $2.8 million for the six-story, 48,000-square-foot office building at 6 E. Bay St.

“We want to keep, maintain and preserve the historic buildings Downtown,” Hanania said.

“I’d like to invest more in Downtown,” he said. “People who grew up in Jacksonville should take some responsibility to bring Downtown back.”

Hanania and Hassan also own suburban property. Ten-H1 Investments LLC paid $1.05 million for an office building at 7899 Baymeadows Way in December 2019. Built in 1983, the single-story building comprises 12,500 rentable square feet on 1.6 acres. 

Hanania leads Hanania Automotive Group, which owns 17 dealerships in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. He intends to expand into South Carolina within the next two years. It has three collision centers in St. Augustine and Orange Park and in Alabama.

Hanania owns the dealership properties. He and Hassan partner on other real estate investments.

The lobby of the Title & Trust Company of Florida Building.


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