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Jax Daily Record Monday, Dec. 3, 201805:20 AM EST

Plan to renovate Downtown Ambassador Hotel advances

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Two grants would help transform site into hotel, apartments, retail.
by: Jay Schlichter Staff Writer

A developer’s plan to renovate the historic Ambassador Hotel in Downtown Jacksonville and add an apartment building and retail space on the block is closer to receiving an incentives package from the Downtown Investment Authority.

The Mayor’s Budget Review Committee recommended approval last Monday of a $1.5 million Downtown Historic Preservation and Revitalization Trust Fund grant and a $4.9 million multifamily Recapture Enhanced Value grant for Augustine Development Group. 

The next step is City Council approval.

The historic preservation grant would not be issued until a certificate of occupancy is issued for the 127-room hotel, with an estimated construction cost of $15 million.

The REV grant would be applied toward The Annex, an estimated $38.1 million apartment building.

Augustine Development partners Bryan Greiner and George Bochis outlined their plans in July to renovate the Ambassador, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and said they are in talks with several hotel chains. They named La Quinta and Cambria as two brands being considered.

The partners purchased five lots totaling 1.5 acres for $5.4 million. The adjoining parcels make up the city block bordered by Duval, Julia, Church and Pearl streets north of the State Attorney’s Office.

The partners said The Annex would comprise 200 luxury units and 15,000 square feet of retail space. To make space for the project, they plan to demolish the former bank building at 404 N. Julia St., which they said doesn’t have historical significance. It was built in 1926.

The apartments will comprise one- and two-bedroom units. Amenities include a fitness center and rooftop pool.

Bochis will be the CEO of the project, called Axis Hotels, but management of the facilities will fall to Integrity Hospitality Management, with whom the developers have an existing relationship.

“We hope to cater on the multifamily side for people who work at the State Attorney’s Office and the courthouse,” Greiner said, adding that this is the group’s first project in Jacksonville. The company has worked on dozens of other projects in Florida.

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