By Drew Dixon, Contributing Writer
A 55-year-old Downtown Jacksonville building is on track to become a new boutique hotel and commercial center beginning this summer.
The Downtown Development Review Board gave final approval Thursday to redevelopment plans for what will become Hotel Indigo at the former Life of the South Building at 100 W. Bay St.
Developer Eugene Profit plans to renovate the seven-story building into an 89-room boutique hotel. Construction will begin by the end of the summer.
Profit didn’t attend the meeting Thursday, but Brooke Robbins, the architect for the project from Robbins Design Studio, gave a presentation detailing the renovation of the 79,000-square-foot building that overlooks Laura and Bay streets.
“I think it’s an attractive property because looking at the composition of Downtown and evaluating the number of hotel rooms and guest rooms and that sort of thing, and the revitalization of Downtown, it was a good opportunity to bring something new to Downtown,” Robbins said.
Robbins said Hotel Indigo will be a “higher end” hotel that will be pet-friendly and designed to accommodate business clientele and fans visiting the city for Jacksonville Jaguars football games and other sporting and cultural events.
There will be a rooftop bar, restaurant and terrace that will seat 190 patrons. The ground floor will remain as retail space with a 92-seat restaurant planned.
Peterbrooke Chocolatier operates in a 2,159-square-foot ground-floor space and Robbins said negotiations are underway to extend its lease.
Robbins said the revitalization of several projects and buildings, such as the nearby Cowford Chophouse, makes the area attractive for urban-oriented developers.
“There are numerous existing buildings that need attention and I think it’s an opportunity to revitalize the core … so that Downtown is used seven days a week, 24 hours a day,” Robbins said.
Jim Klement, development coordinator for the review board, said the Hotel Indigo project is what the city needs in its core.
“It’s a repurpose of an existing structure that’s been vacant for 20 years-plus,” Klement said. “Personally, I think it’s a fun idea and a good idea.”
Klement acknowledged the success of Hotel Indigo is far from guaranteed.
“It’s always challenging to put on the rose-colored glasses to see what could be or what might be,” Klement said. “If all of the other cylinders are firing, this can be a complement to what’s taking place Downtown.”
In other action:
• The board approved a six-story parking garage that will have ground-floor retail space to be built on Forsyth Street between Main and Laura streets.
The 696-space garage is projected to be completed by the end of this year or in early 2019. It is designed to service the Laura Street Trio buildings and Barnett Bank Building that are undergoing redevelopment.
• The board gave conceptual approval for the redevelopment of the old Jones Brothers Furniture Co. Building at 520 N. Hogan St. and former Western Union Building at 502 N. Hogan St.
The Jones Brothers building was erected in 1926 and plans by ACE JAX are to renovate the structure into 28 apartment units. Pending more review, it will return to the board for final approval.