The city issued a permit July 27 to AXIS Hotels LLC for $4 million in renovations and repairs to the historic Ambassador Hotel in Downtown Jacksonville’s North Core.
The permit is for framing, slab work, fire safety and other improvements for what the Augustine Development Group LLC subsidiary expects to be a $17.6 million project that will transform the building into a 100-room TRYP by Wyndham hotel with a restaurant and speakeasy lounge.
AXIS originally planned a La Quinta Inn & Suites for the Ambassador when the project was announced in July 2018. That hotel flag is shown on the building permit.
Work on the Ambassador will begin less than two weeks after the Downtown Development Review Board awarded AXIS final exterior design approval to restore the 98-year-old building at 420 N. Julia St.
City Council President Sam Newby introduced legislation July 27 at the request of the Downtown Investment Authority to amend the AXIS development agreement with the city to give the developer until July 31 to start construction.
The DIA board approved the extension in June but needs Council approval. The bill was filed in a one-cycle emergency and could be approved by Aug. 10.
DIA Real Estate Development Director Steve Kelley said July 9 that AXIS secured financing for the project by June 30, meeting the deadline set by the DIA board to bring the project’s contract with the city out of default.
The developer must begin the project by July 31 to keep its $1.5 million grant from the city’s Downtown Historic Preservation and Revitalization Trust Fund.
AXIS told city officials it will complete the Ambassador’s renovation and restoration by Dec. 31, 2022.
Augustine Development Group President Bryan Greiner said July 15 the “SoHo concept” restaurant will be operated by Doral-based Victory Hospitality LLC owner Mark Mughabghab.
According to DIA documents, the National Park Service, which regulates the restoration of buildings designated national historic places, approved the Ambassador project and awarded AXIS Hotels a certificate of appropriateness.
Augustine Development Group LLC plans to redevelop and restore three designated historic buildings in a two-block area of Downtown’s North Core.
The projects include the Ambassador and mixed-use, multifamily projects at the Independent Life tower at 233 W. Duval St. and Central National Bank Building at 404 N. Julia St.