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Lexington Hotel & Conference Center Jacksonville Riverwalk
Jax Daily Record Friday, Aug. 7, 201512:00 PM EST

Work to begin on rooms at Lexington Hotel & Conference Center Jacksonville Riverwalk


Renovations are about to begin on guest rooms at the Lexington Hotel & Conference Center Jacksonville Riverwalk.

New owner Vantage Hospitality Group, through LexDevCoJax LLC, has applied to the city for a permit to renovate rooms at project cost of $2.46 million.

Gary Rito, president of the Vantage Hospitality affiliate that will manage hotel renovations, said Thursday the application is the start of the first phase of remodels.

“It’s getting us in the queue to start renovating rooms,” he said.

Rito said the first step in renovating the 323 rooms is to demolish interiors to see what needs to be done.

The hotel remains open and the work will take place in phases. Some deferred maintenance was immediately done, he said.

Rito declined to say how much Vantage Hospitality intends to invest in the total project.

Rito is president of Brown Nester-Florida LLC, an affiliate of Vantage Hospitality that will manage what is expected to be an 18-month renovation.

The permit application shows that Phoenix Building Corp. of Stuart is the contractor and David L. Wallace and Associates of Dunedin is the architect.

Vantage Hospitality bought the property in early June and immediately put up banner signs for its Lexington brand over the former Wyndham name.

Coral Springs-based Vantage Hospitality paid $9 million for the 34-year-old hotel on 5.8 acres at 1515 Prudential Drive on the Downtown Southbank. The property had been foreclosed and was bank-owned.

Vantage Hospitality is remodeling the Lexington as almost 11 acres around it are being sold by another property owner.

That ownership group is reorganizing under federal bankruptcy laws.

Of that nearly 11 acres, Alliance Residential Co. intends to buy three acres along the waterfront next to the Lexington to develop up to 300 luxury apartment units by early 2018.

Miami-based investor Ramon Llorens also is expected to buy the remaining waterfront acreage in front and to the other side of the hotel, but hasn’t returned emails to comment on plans for it.

Rito said the Vantage Hospitality team looks forward to meeting with Llorens to talk about how they can work together.

He said the same holds for Alliance Residential. He said they’ve worked together in South Florida and he called the company “smart, professional” and said it produced a great product there.

The five-story Lexington was built in 1981 as a Sheraton. It also has operated as a Radisson and most recently was a Wyndham.

Renovations will include a reconfigured lobby; outdoor improvements, including new landscaping; remodeled guestrooms, restrooms and meeting areas; and a new roof and windows.

The hotel also has 35,000 square feet of meeting space as well as a café and lounge.

Rito said Thursday the team is reviewing how to best use the top-floor ballroom and verandah in the overall design. He said it is a venue with great views of Downtown and the river, but “has been very underutilized and has great design potential.”

TopGolf files plans for St. Johns Town Center

TopGolf continues on course to develop its St. Johns Town Center project planned along the Interstate 295 East Beltway.

The Dallas-based operator of multilevel golfing entertainment centers and civil engineer Prosser Inc. filed site plans for the project with the city and applied Monday to the St. Johns River Water Management District.

TopGolf International Inc. plans to develop a 65,000-square-foot building and a golf driving range on 15 acres of undeveloped property now owned by members of the Skinner family.

The property is at the end of Brightman Boulevard at the north end of the Town Center.

City Council approved an ordinance July 28 to rezone the property for commercial uses that would serve TopGolf.

The company has been looking at the area for at least 19 months.

TopGolf spokeswoman Adrienne Chance said Thursday by email that the company has not yet confirmed the Jacksonville location. In general, she said construction takes nine-12 months after final approvals and confirmation.

She said TopGolf hires 450 to 500 positions, full- and part-time, at each location.

TopGolf facilities feature climate-controlled hitting bays. Players hit golf balls containing computer microchips that track each shot’s accuracy and distance while also awarding points for hitting targets on the outfield.

It also offers a food and beverage menu, along with music, games and HDTVs.

TopGolf operates 18 locations in the United States and the United Kingdom with several more coming soon, although Jacksonville is not listed on as one of those.

The only Florida location is in Tampa.

Retail update

• Peterbrooke Chocolatier applied for a permit to build-out space for a store at 100 W. Bay St. at a cost of $65,000. The Jacksonville-based candy maker already operates a temporary space at that Downtown building.

• Concept Development Inc., the Gainesville-based developer of Dollar General stores, filed site plans with the city for two more Jacksonville projects. The company wants to build 7,477-square-foot stores at 3801 N. Main St. and at Kings Road and Kings Park Drive. The stores aren’t specified as Dollar General stores, although the size is what the chain uses.

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