DIA expects Laura Street Trio agreement in March

Downtown Investment Authority staff said the proposal could include more construction at a Forsyth Street surface parking lot.

The Laura Street Trio at 51 W. Forsyth St. comprises The Florida Life, Bisbee and Marble Bank buildings.
The Laura Street Trio at 51 W. Forsyth St. comprises The Florida Life, Bisbee and Marble Bank buildings.
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The long-proposed Laura Street Trio renovation likely will come before the Downtown Investment Authority in March with more construction than first planned, according to DIA staff.

DIA Downtown Real Estate and Development Director Steve Kelley told the authority’s Strategic Implementation Committee on Jan. 14 that SouthEast Development Group LLC’s latest plans for the Trio likely will include a second phase with new construction. 

That’s in addition to existing plans for a hotel, restaurant and retail space in the three vacant historic buildings at 51 W. Forsyth St.

DIA CEO Lori Boyer said in an interview after the meeting that a site plan submitted to the DIA by the developer shows the new construction on an empty surface lot of Forsyth Street, west of a parking garage at 25 W. Forsyth St.

“There is a second phase associated with (the Trio). The uses are contemplated for various things. It wouldn’t be part of the initial redevelopment plan,” Kelley said. 

“We are in preliminary discussions now and hope to be bringing to this committee no later than March,” he said.

Boyer said that a proposed economic development agreement was expected to come to the DIA board in February but discussions were ongoing about how the new construction could impact the Trio’s historic facade on the east side of the .

The Laura Street Trio site as seen from The Barnett building.
The Laura Street Trio site as seen from The Barnett building.

Plans for the Trio submitted to the city in 2017 included new construction on the vacant lot to the north of the Trio.

SouthEast Managing Director Steve Atkins did not immediately return a phone call for comment Jan. 14. 

The site of the possible new construction is on a parcel owned by Laura Trio LLC, according to the Duval County Property Appraiser’s Office.

City Council approved $9.8 million in June 2017 for SouthEast and development partner Las Vegas-based The Molasky Group of Cos. to renovate the Barnett National Bank Building and the Trio.

Atkins said in December that Molasky is not involved in his latest plans for the Trio. 

The deal includes $8 million from the Downtown Historic Preservation and Revitalization Trust Fund and a Recapture Enhanced Value Grant up to $1.8 million to be paid out over 20 years.

After SouthEast missed a deadline to complete a parking garage that was part of a deal to redevelop The Barnett, Boyer announced in September 2019 the DIA and project developers were renegotiating the city agreement to ensure the Trio is renovated.

Boyer said Jan. 14 that the latest deal will use incentives under the DIA’s Downtown Preservation and Revitalization Program approved by Council in October. 

Atkins said Dec. 14 that Marriott was reviewing the Trio property as a candidate for its Autograph Collection of hotels.

Marriott’s possible upgrade adds another element to the project at Laura and Adams streets.

The chain has 180 independent boutique hotels worldwide that feature custom designs in the Autograph brand, according to the hotel company’s website. The closest is the Casa Monica Resort & Spa in St. Augustine.

The Florida Life, Bisbee and Marble Bank buildings comprise the Trio.

Atkins said a restaurant and bar planned for the Trio’s Marble Bank Building is part of Marriott’s review. 

The restaurant and 145-room hotel are required to be a minimum four-star quality for the Autograph brand and the restaurant must serve three meals per day, he said.

Atkins purchased a Marriott franchise in 2014. He said Oct. 23 that he’s working with a third-party group that specializes in adaptive-reuse hotels to manage it.

Atkins said he expects an adaptive-reuse product like the Trio could be on the front end of a hospitality market rebound after the COVID-19 pandemic.




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