It had to be cool. It had to be unique. And it had to be different.
When Dan St. John, chairman and CEO of St. John & Partners found those three elements in the same place, he signed a lease for two floors at Riverplace Tower Downtown along the Southbank.
The advertising and public relations agency will move into its new space in January after a $2 million build-out of the second and third floors of the office tower.
The second floor has 30-foot ceilings with a panoramic view of the Northbank skyline through floor-to-ceiling windows.
A staircase will be constructed to connect the two floors.
There’s also a bank vault in the space formerly occupied by a Wells Fargo branch.
“In our business, we didn’t want to be on just any floor,” said St. John. “We looked at higher floors. But we didn’t find anything like this anywhere else.”
And after 17 years in an office park along Belfort Road, “We were ready for a change,” he said.
The two floors combined are nearly 31,000 square feet of space, an increase of about 7,000 square feet.
Design details are being developed, but St. John said the more than 100 members of the agency’s staff will work in a tech-enabled environment, including a large café area that will be used for meetings and social functions.
St. John said the search for the perfect location took about 10 months. Options were considered throughout Jacksonville, including the Southside, Riverside and the urban core.
In addition to finding the distinctive office space, St. John said the development underway on the Southbank, including The District and Broadstone River House, plus the improvements to the Southbank Riverwalk helped tip the scales in favor of Riverplace Tower.
“Our young, millennial staff is excited to be moving to Downtown where the action is,” he said.
Discovering the soaring ceiling on the second floor also came as a surprise to Lingerfelt Commonwealth Partners, which purchased the tower in November 2014.
John Mason, Lingerfelt vice president, said the company didn’t realize the scale of the space until after it bought the building and began renovations.
That’s when the false ceiling 15 feet above the floor on the second level was removed, revealing the original primary entrance for Gulf Life Accident & Insurance Co., which was the sole occupant when the 28-story building opened in 1966.
“It wouldn’t appeal to every tenant, but it’s great for a marketing firm,” he said.
The St. John & Partners agreement makes the building 85 percent leased.
“It is a phenomenal asset,” said Mason.