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Photo by Max Marbut - The former Haydon Burns Library, now known as The Library, at 122 N. Ocean St.
Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Feb. 5, 201312:00 PM EST

Latitude 30 checks out of The Library : Will review Downtown options

by: David Chapman

Latitude Global Inc. allowed its letter of intent to lease the 120,000-square-foot former Haydon Burns Library to expire Friday, putting the historic Downtown building back on the market.

Despite the expiration, the Jacksonville-based entertainment company remains "very interested" in the location, according to Philip Alia, Latitude chief marketing officer.

"At this time we are continuing our due diligence on the downtown library as well as multiple other locations," said Alia.

As reported, the company signed a letter of intent in September to rent the 122 N. Ocean St. building, now known as The Library, for potential as a smaller-scale entertainment venue, restaurant and headquarters location.

Signing the letter provided a 90-day window for Latitude officials to enter into a purchase-and-sale agreement, which it did not. During that period, consultants and engineers reviewed the building to determine the cost to remodel the space for its use. Alia did not disclose the cost of a remodel but said "many numbers" were discussed depending on the scope of the work.

Alia said Monday the company has been presented with multiple options, is researching them and remains "very interested" in the library.

In a release issued Monday, Alia said the company has met with the City and is working with it to determine an ideal location.

When the letter of intent was signed, the company discussed incorporating three facets of its business into three 35,000-square-foot-floors.

The first floor would be an entertainment venue similar to other Latitude locations, but smaller in scope. It would require 60-75 employees and have 12 bowling lanes and a sports theater among other features, but would not include a games room designed to attract children.

The second floor would become the company's headquarters, which are currently housed in the Brownstone Building at 6022 San Jose Blvd., near University Boulevard.

The third floor, in addition to the first floor, would be used for company training.

Bill Cesery, part of The Library ownership group, said Monday he was still working with the company.

He said he had two other parties interested in the building, but would offer it to Latitude first because it "would be such a good thing for Downtown."

"I'd like to see that happen," Cesery said.

David DeCamp, Mayor Alvin Brown's spokesman, on Monday said the administration has been in talks with the company and is assisting it to find a destination.

Asked if the company preferred an existing building or new construction, Alia said it depended on the site.

He said new buildings often are easier but require more zoning and time, while existing building remodels can be executed more quickly because of minimal structural engineering and required approvals.

"The Library would work for us, which is why it is still an option," he said.

He said there is no firm deadline for a move Downtown and the company wanted to move into a location "beneficial to all stakeholders."

In September, Alia said the company would seek financial incentives for the potential Downtown move as part of funding opportunities.

Brown last week proposed $9 million for Downtown investment, but designating the funds must first be approved by City Council. After Council approval, the Downtown Investment Authority would administer the funds to leverage private investment for projects.


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