The Life of The South building owner said he sought out Hotel Indigo for the seven-story building at 100 W. Bay St.
“We felt like it was the perfect fit, given the size of that building,” said Eugene Profit.
The 55-year-old, 79,000-square-foot building is set to become a 90-room boutique hotel with a rooftop restaurant and bar.
Profit, a former NFL player whose investment business is based in Bethesda, Maryland, said last week he believed the Hotel Indigo brand could thrive Downtown.
It was one of five Downtown projects that earned conceptual approval Thursday from the Downtown Development Review Board.
Hotel Indigo is operated by United Kingdom-based InterContinental Hotel Group PLC.
The other Hotel Indigo in Jacksonville is at 9840 Tapestry Park Circle off of Southside Boulevard in Tapestry Park. The boutique hotel brand focuses on what it calls “authentic local experiences, modern design and intimate service.”
It says each hotel is “as individual as its surroundings and is also a reflection of them.” It features local menu flavors and displays local art and photography.
Profit said before committing to the hotel concept, he looked at different uses for the building. He said that since it wasn’t going to be Class A office space, he turned his attention to apartments, condominiums or hospitality.
“It could’ve been multifamily, but as we started to do our research, we saw there was a hole in the market,” he said.
The project’s architect, Brooke Robbins of Robbins Design Studio, told the DDRB that the construction team will need to replace most if not all the windows in addition to reconfiguring the first floor.
Danis Construction will serve as the general contractor. The structural engineer is Atlantic Engineering Services and the mechanical engineer is TLC Engineering for Architecture. Connelly & Wicker Inc. is the civil engineer.
The hotel’s guest rooms will feature either two double beds or a queen bed. The lobby will have a 95-seat restaurant and lounge, along with a conference room and offices. A fitness center is planned for the fourth floor.
The seventh floor will be transformed into a full-service, 190-seat restaurant and bar.
Robbins told board members the group plans to reconfigure the ground floor, creating one entrance for both the hotel and the new retail space.
She said Peterbrooke Chocolatier, which occupies space on the first floor, will be relocated to the new area when the build-out is complete.
Board members Trevor Lee and Rafael Caldera suggested Profit and his team consider adding more vibrancy to the exterior and that any final design rendering should include more detail, including the hotel’s signage.
“With this process, we’re not going after historic approval, I believe, so we will be able to spruce it up and get it where we need to be,” Profit said.
“It was very good to hear that they wanted to see a little more pizazz, so we’ll see what we can do with it,” he said.
Jax Design Group Inc. is the food service space designer, but Profit said he has not found a restaurant partner, calling the opportunity “wide open.”
“We’ll look at some of the local providers and see what really fits,” he said. “I hope that we’re able to get that online a little faster, but it depends.”
Profit is a graduate of Yale University and a former NFL defensive back who played for the Washington Redskins and New England Patriots from 1986 to 1990. His transition into the financial world began after leaving football and led him to launch his own investment management firm, Profit Investment Management, in 1996.
He said he began considering Downtown Jacksonville around 2013 when he was in town for a conference. He bought the Life of The South building through 100 West Bay Street 1 LLC in 2013 for $3 million.
“We’re optimistic type of investors and we try to add value where we go,” Profit said. “This seemed to be a good spot for us to invest.”
Profit’s company also is renovating 20 W. Adams St. into student housing and a restaurant for Florida State College at Jacksonville. Profit bought the building in 2015 for $750,000 through Phoenix Adams Rising LLC.
He said it was OK that construction has taken longer than anticipated “since we didn’t come into this with a set investment return plan.”
“It’s tough, because the financing is difficult to secure sometimes, and you have to be sort of a pioneer by taking a chance,” he said.
The project is scheduled to be completed this year about the time major interior renovations begin for the hotel.
Profit and his team must return to the DDRB for a final design approval before he can apply for permits.
Going to the dogs
The DDRB awarded conceptual approval for two pet-focused projects for Riverside and San Marco.
The first is Kanine Social, a 14,000-square-foot bar and dog day care business at 580 College St.
It would be the first bar in Jacksonville featuring craft beer and coffee service that encourages and caters to customers with dogs.
Project consultant and agent Lara Diettrich said the plan is to split the footprint in half, with the indoor space used as a bar and indoor play area for dogs as well as offices and the day care center.
The outside would feature different off-leash artificial turf areas for small and large dogs and would include self-washing stations.
In San Marco, a 3,869-square-foot dog day care and grooming facility, Dogtopia, is proposed on a 0.33-acre piece of property at 1075 Hendricks Ave. near Interstate 95.
The vacant building will require interior and exterior renovations including a reconfiguration of the parking spaces.
Several DDRB members were concerned about limited parking and high traffic on Hendricks Avenue.
Happy Family LLC owns the land and will install a circular driveway for easy drop-off and pickup, in addition to new parking along the side of the building for clients and employees.
Dogtopia, based in Phoenix, will be led locally by franchisees Addie and Ali Kasraeian.
Ali Kasraeian told board members he thinks the concept will exceed expectations with the existing and proposed residential projects in San Marco and the Downtown Southbank.
The couple lives in The Peninsula of Jacksonville residential tower on the Southbank, which is how they settled on the location for Dogtopia.
Both projects will need to return to DDRB for final approval.