'Cool, hip' and colorful: 100 North Laura completing renovations, adding tenants

The 10-story office building at northwest Laura and Forsyth streets rotates colors at night, drawing attention to its brand as an "office lifestyle" location.
The 10-story office building at northwest Laura and Forsyth streets rotates colors at night, drawing attention to its brand as an "office lifestyle" location.
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Bellwether and CenterState Bank will celebrate their grand opening at the renovated 100 North Laura building April 13, becoming the latest tenants to join what its leasing representative considers Downtown’s “lifestyle office building.”

“We want a cool, hip building that isn’t intimidating and is a place that people can go and work and collaborate and really not feel like they want to leave,” said Matthew Clark, vice president of Prime Realty Services.

For example, tenants can dine on the first floor at the soon-to-open Bellwether restaurant by Jacksonville restaurateur Jonathan Insetta.

If they want to work out, they can join the Anytime Fitness center in the building, or as office renters they can use security cards to access showers, lockers and bike storage.

The 100 North Laura building also lights up the night with its changing LED colors.

“It’s awesome from a brand standpoint,” Clark said. “It has put the building on people’s radar.”

The lights cycle through the color spectrum most nights but can be adjusted for the season or special events, such as displaying the rainbow pride colors during the City Council debate and passage of an expanded human rights ordinance.

Creating a brand can mean more business, Clark said.

“When people think of Downtown they think of other buildings,” he said, especially the office towers.

“But I think with our renovation and some of the exterior things we have been doing, people are thinking of our building,” he said.

The 10-story building, at Northwest Laura and Forsyth streets, is about 30 percent vacant, Clark said, although negotiations are underway for some of that space.

Clark said if those prospects sign, that will leave two full open floors, totaling 26,000 square feet. The building comprises 138,000 square feet of leasable space.

He said the Downtown market is competitive, but the building is well positioned.

“This year is going to be a really good year,” he said.

Lease rates average $18 to $22 a square foot, he said. That’s in the range of the average rates of $17-$22 for Class A and B Northbank buildings, according to industry reports.

Clark said renovations on the building will be completed in the next couple of weeks.

Lawyers Eddie and Chuck Farah, whose Farah & Farah firm is based at 10 W. Adams St., bought 100 North Laura in 2011 and launched lobby and exterior improvements of $1.5 million.

Exterior work includes new awnings, painting and new entrances, as well as signage for the structure and major tenants and the LED uplighting system. Clark said the awnings should go up soon.

Interior work in the lobby included a redesign, upgraded ceilings and lighting, new flooring, TVs to provide news and information, a new security system at the front entrance, new elevators and tenant-accessible bathrooms with showers.

A $130,000 low-interest city loan was approved by the Downtown Investment Authority toward waterproofing and other work.

Bellwether will open on the lobby floor on the Forsyth Street side of the building in the former Midtown Deli space, which is under renovation.

Bellwether will feature outdoor dining, a full bar and private dining options.

While it might not be open yet as a restaurant by April 13, it will cater the food for the grand opening.

Insetta is president of Black Sheep Restaurant Group Inc. Restaurant Orsay is in Avondale, Black Sheep Restaurant is in Five Points and BLK SHP operates in Intuition Ale Works near the sports complex.

The bellwetherjax.com website calls Bellwether a “casual yet sophisticated restaurant” that “will offer an eclectic mix of timeless fare for lunch and dinner.”

CenterState Bank of Florida already has established its Jacksonville headquarters on the top floor and opened a branch in the lobby.

It brings Gil Pomar, executive vice president and regional president, back to the office he occupied for 12 years.

CenterState occupies 9,000 square feet that was vacated when Ameris Bank’s lease ended in September. Ameris moved its branch a few doors down to 121 Atlantic Place.

The 100 North Laura building had been known as The Jacksonville Bank Building until Ameris Bancorp bought The Jacksonville Bank and transitioned the offices to Ameris.

Ameris established its headquarters across the St. Johns River on the Downtown Southbank, where its name is on top of Riverplace Tower.

Pomar formerly led The Jacksonville Bank. He will return to the same space he occupied when he was president of the bank from 1999-2011.

CenterState has offices and branches in Liberty Center in Southpoint, Riverside and Ortega. Pomar had been operating among the offices, but now works in the headquarters Downtown.

The bank leases the 4,000-square-foot lobby branch space and 5,000 square feet on the 10th floor. It signed a 10-year lease.

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