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Bostwick Building at 101 E. Bay St.
Jax Daily Record Wednesday, May 21, 201412:00 PM EST

Years-long battle over Bostwick Building ends as judge orders site to be sold

by: David Chapman

It started with a permit to demolish the historic Bostwick Building.

That was August 2012.

In the 21 months since, there’s been a battle over the 101 E. Bay St. building’s historic designation and debate about the rights of property owners.

An agreement to sell fell apart after months of due diligence and effort. That failure led to City Council in November — after six deferrals — approving the building as a historic landmark and ruling against a demolition permit sought by Guaranty Trust Investments Inc., which consists of members of the Bostwick family.

The day after council ruled, the city foreclosed on the building. In March, a judge ruled the city was entitled to a $71,000 lien due to fines that had accrued to the tune of $100-a-day because the structure was out of compliance with building codes.

All that was left was sorting out legal fees and setting a date for the building to hit the auction block.

On Tuesday, Circuit Court Judge Karen Cole ruled on both, granting the city $78,774, including more than $7,000 in attorney and legal fees. She set an auction date for July 21.

“As a historic structure that sits at one of the entrances to Downtown, the Bostwick Building is critical to the revitalization of Jacksonville’s city center,” said Chris Hand, Mayor Alvin Brown’s chief of staff. “The Court’s decision improves the process for redeveloping one of Downtown’s best-known buildings.”

Who — if anyone — purchases the building won’t be known for two months, but the group that at one point had a deal with the Bostwicks last year is still interested.

“I feel like I will be involved,” said Jacques Klempf, CEO of Dixie Egg Co. “I don’t know how many others will.”

Klempf and his partners in Ovinte, a wine, cocktails and tapas lounge at the St. Johns Town Center, struck a $325,000 deal just over a year ago with an idea to turn the historic building into a restaurant. After months of due diligence, a standing lawsuit from a neighboring business regarding water intrusion scuttled that deal.

Klempf said Tuesday afternoon he was at the morning hearing to see how the legal proceedings progressed, but hasn’t been inside the building since maybe August.

With the date set, he’d like to take another look inside.

“I know it’s not any better,” he said, “but I think we have the right team to try and repurpose the building with its historical designation.”

With the time and energy the group has spent, Klempf said the focus would still be a restaurant, should it bid and secure the building.

“It’s not something that will be easy,” he said.

Val Bostwick did not return calls for comment Tuesday or on Wednesday morning.

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