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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Apr. 18, 201808:56 PM EST

The Cawton Report: JPMorgan Chase coming to Barnett Building , Atkins confirms

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Developer: Restoration of historic building is ahead of schedule.
by: David Cawton Staff Writer

JPMorgan Chase & Co. will open its flagship Jacksonville location on the ground floor of the Barnett National Bank Building when it opens next year, developer Steve Atkins told members of the Meninak Club of Jacksonville on Monday.

“It’s the worst-kept secret in Jacksonville,” Atkins said, although he said later it was not an official announcement.

Atkins is the SouthEast Development Group principal and managing director leading the $100 million project with The Molasky Group of Cos. that includes the Barnett and the Laura Street Trio in Downtown.

“We have been working with JPMorgan Chase for quite some time, but I’m not going to make any announcements because they’d like to make that announcement themselves,” Atkins said after the meeting.

Chase bank spokesman Michael Fusco declined to comment, citing “ongoing discussions.”  

Atkins said the architect commissioned for a recent renovation at the bank’s 270 Park Ave. headquarters in New York City will design the Jacksonville space.

The 18-story Italian Renaissance-style building at 112 W. Adams St. is being adapted for apartments, office space, a University of North Florida satellite campus and banking.

The former Barnett National Bank built the structure in 1926.

“We started from the top down in October, and now we’re a month ahead of schedule,” Atkins said.

This week, he said, general contractor Danis Builders LLC began reinstalling the building’s 964 upper windows.

Developer Steve Atkins.

Framing of the 108 one- and two-bedroom apartments planned for the top 10 floors also started this week.  

“While that’s happening, all the structural remediation on the inside is going on, and other infrastructure is starting to go in,” he explained.

Atkins said new mechanical and drainage systems continue to be installed, along with other interior construction.

Atkins said the building’s programming is nearly completed.

“There are several other business tenants that we’re in discussion with for the last two floors,” he said, declining to identify them.

Other confirmed tenants include Murray Hill coffee roasters Vagabond Coffee Co. and Cisco Technologies, which Atkins said will occupy dedicated space on the mezzanine floor.

He said Cisco is providing fiber services for the building and will have an office for telecommunications research and development.

UNF will lease about 13,300 square feet to create the Entrepreneurial Development and Business Incubation Center for undergraduate and graduate-level courses on the fourth and fifth floors.

A “health and wellness program” is planned for the third floor.

As work on the Barnett wraps up, so will construction of a 600-space parking garage at Laura and Forsyth streets. The Downtown Development Review Board is expected to review final design at its May board meeting.

The garage will include nearly 10,000 square feet of first-floor retail space along Laura and Forsyth, with another section of convertible space along Main Street.

Atkins said the National Park Service is reviewing plan designs for the Laura Street Trio, which will feature a 145-room Marriott-flagged hotel, grocery store, restaurant and bar.

Atkins said the approval process is more complicated than with the Barnett since all three structures – The Marble Bank, Florida Life and Bisbee buildings – are different in design and historic significance.

“Whereas with the Barnett, you had one building with repetitive floor plates,” Atkins said. “The process wasn’t easy, just a little more streamlined.”

He said those approvals are expected soon.

Atkins told the group of about three dozen attendees that he hopes other large-scale projects begin development in the urban core.

“We’re on the national radar at this point,” he said about Jacksonville’s “hot market.”

“There’s still a lot of opportunity in Downtown Jacksonville and around the rest of the city,” he said.

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