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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Oct. 8, 201905:12 PM EST

Old Independent Life Building slated for Downtown apartments, grocery store

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Augustine Development Group bought the 64-year-old structure next to the Ambassador Hotel that it also is redeveloping.
by: Scott Sailer Staff Writer

Another Downtown office building is slated for redevelopment.

St. Augustine-based Augustine Development Group bought the former Independent Life and Accident Insurance Co. home office building at 233 W. Duval St. Downtown for $3.7 million.

Bryan Greiner, president of Augustine Development Group, said Tuesday his group bought the 64-year-old building last week and plans to invest about $28 million in the 180,000-square-foot, 19-story structure.

The group plans to develop 140 market-rate apartments on the second through 18th floors, a grocery store on the 21,000-square-foot ground floor and basement, and a rooftop terrace with a pool, lounge and a high-end sushi and seafood restaurant on the top floor.

The restaurant and grocery store will be leased to a private operator, he said.

KBJ Architects designed the building, which was completed in1955.

The property is on the same block as Sweet Pete’s candy shop and is west of City Hall and north of the U.S. Bryan Simpson Courthouse.

Augustine Development Group bought the old Independent Life and Accident Insurance Co. building Downtown with plans for redevelopment.

Greiner said the project will be financed through the group's Axis Income Fund.

Greiner said the group likes “to buy historic buildings at a fraction of reproduction costs.”

Augustine Development Group may seek funding for asbestos remediation.

Property record show the previous owner is West Duval Towers LLC of Cleveland, Ohio.

Augustine Development Group plans to start construction in the first quarter and anticipates a  14-month construction schedule. Greiner said the first phase of tenants could open after 12 months.

Next to the old Independent Life building, Augustine Development Group is redeveloping the former Ambassador Hotel property at 420 N. Julia St. through Axis Hotels LLC.

It will become a 127-room La Quinta Inns & Suites hotel. Vestcor will develop 220 apartment units.

Parking for both projects will be shared on the Axis Hotel property.

Independent Life relocated its offices in 1975 to what is now the Wells Fargo Center, and the Jacksonville Electric Authority acquired the Duval Street building in 1976.

JEA moved from the building in the 1990s.

 

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