Permit sought to transform former Ambassador Hotel into a La Quinta

Axis Hotels LLC of St. Augustine is the developer renovating the Downtown six-story structure built in 1922.

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Downtown’s Ambassador Hotel soon will become a La Quinta Inns & Suites hotel, pending approval of building-permit plans for a $6 million renovation.

No contractor is listed for the project at 420 N. Julia St.

Charles H. Parsons Architect of Orlando is the architect, Zev Cohen & Associates of Ormond Beach is the civil engineer and HB Associates LLC of Altamonte Springs is the electrical engineer.

Axis Hotels LLC of St. Augustine is the developer to renovate the six-story, almost 60,000-square-foot building that was built in 1922.

The city approved a permit in December for SMC Construction Southeast LLC of Orlando to provide interior demolition at a cost of $300,000 to prepare for build-out.

In January, City Council approved an economic development agreement with Axis Hotels LLC to redevelop the historic Ambassador Hotel in Downtown Jacksonville into a 127-room La Quinta Inn and Suites.

The deal also involves demolishing a former bank building next door for construction of 220 apartments at 404 N. Julia St.  

Axis Hotels bought the 1.5-acre block bordered by Duval, Julia, Church and Pearl streets in July for $5.4 million.

Augustine Development Group President Bryan Greiner said previously the multifamily portion of the project will be developed with The Vestcor Companies.

He said project construction would take about 14 months.

The $6.4 million in city incentives include a $1.5 million Redevelopment Completion Grant from the Downtown Historic Preservation and Revitalization Trust Fund that will be applied toward the estimated $15 million cost to redevelop the Ambassador Hotel.

That grant will not be made until the hotel receives a certificate of occupancy.

To help offset the cost of the apartments and a parking structure, the city is providing a $4.9 million Recapture Enhanced Value grant to be paid over 15 years. The grant is an annual rebate of 75 percent of the ad valorem taxes generated by the estimated $38 million construction project.