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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Oct. 15, 202005:20 AM EST

Repairs planned for Downtown Central Fire Station building

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Owners say the building could be leased to tenants on each floor with potential for a coffee shop or cafe.

Paul and Farley Grainger are beginning to prepare the 117-year-old Central Fire Station building Downtown for tenants.

“We just wanted to start the process,” said Paul Grainger, a partner with his father, Farley Grainger, in Iconic Real Estate Investments LLC.

Paul Grainger

They submitted documents to the city for a certificate of appropriateness for exterior repairs. Robbins Design Studio is the applicant and agent for the project.

The Jacksonville Planning and Development Department staff approved the certificate with conditions. The 10,000-square-foot building is designated historic.

Farley Grainger

The former fire station is at 39 E. Adams St. at northwest Adams and Ocean streets. 

The exterior repairs will include replacement of the rollup doors, new exterior personnel doors, stucco and structural repairs, window replacement, new exterior decorative lighting fixtures and new roofing.

The interior scope will provide an interior lift for accessibility and new secondary egress stairs for a future tenant.

The interior will be turned into shell space for future tenants.

On Oct. 9, Paul Grainger cited new incentives from the Downtown Investment Authority as an opportunity to contribute to the city’s historic inventory. 

He said he will meet with DIA to make sure his group is interpreting the rules for historic work.

Grainger said the top floor has potential for creative office use and he has been talking with potential tenants.

He said the building could be leased to a single tenant or to single users on each floor.

The rollup door on the first floor would be conducive for a coffee shop or cafe, he said.

Grainger said exterior work probably will start in a few months. He did not have an investment estimate, saying he was receiving updated costs.

After 5½ years of owning the Central Fire Station building, John VanPelt sold the historic Downtown property in June 2019 for $700,000 to Iconic Real Estate Investments.

VanPelt paid $600,000 for it in January 2014 and lived there with his teenage son.

The fire station, built in 1903, was one of the first new structures after the 1901 fire that destroyed Downtown.

The building is at the corner of two major Downtown thoroughfares, at the end of a block anchored by the Burrito Gallery and Indochine restaurants.

Across Adams Street sits the former Haydon Burns Public Library that was renovated into the Jessie Ball duPont Center for nonprofits.

The Graingers said when they bought it that they were talking to tenants but the structure has deferred maintenance.

The fire station’s first floor is about 5,000 square feet of garage space, while the second floor, with views of Downtown, is about the same size and has been used as living quarters.

Grainger said upon buying the building that his group would talk to the city’s historic planners about preservation and facade improvements. 

Iconic has been active Downtown.

On Sept. 30, Iconic Real Estate Investments sold the George Doro Fixture Co. property at 102 A Philip Randolph Blvd. to Rise: A Real Estate Company for $5.2 million. Rise, based in Valdosta, Georgia, plans apartments.

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