DIA board advances reduced $4.47 million deal for Central National Bank apartment project

The tax and grant package for the 139-unit historic rehabilitation Downtown heads to City Council.

The plan for the renovated  Central National Bank Building at 404 N. Julia St.
The plan for the renovated Central National Bank Building at 404 N. Julia St.
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The Downtown Investment Authority board approved a reduced $4.47 million incentives deal for Augustine Development Group LLC’s proposed $37.63 million multifamily addition to its proposed Central National Bank Building renovation. 

The board voted 7-0 on Oct. 20 to approve a $2.67 million Recapture Enhanced Value Grant for a 103-unit new construction component of its historic renovation project at 404 N. Julia St.

The deal also recommends the city spend $1.8 million to buy 90 parking spaces in the development’s 450-space garage for the nearby Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department headquarters. 

The incentives package requires City Council approval. 

Augustine Development is building the 103-unit multifamily building and garage through subsidiary AXIS 404 Julia LLC. The 0.78-acre site is bounded by Church, Pearl and Duval streets.

A DIA committee reduced the proposed REV grant from $4.05 million, a 75% refund on the added property taxes generated by the site over 15 years.

In its report, DIA staff found that the project qualifies for a 50% REV grant under its scoring system. 

Augustine Development Group CEO George Bochis agreed to the reduction during the Oct. 15 committee meeting. 

The board also reduced the recommended subsidy for the parking garage from $2.4 million after JFRD agreed to buy fewer parking spots.

JFRD originally wanted 120 spaces for its headquarters at 515 N. Julia St. 

According to DIA staff, the reduction was due to cost.

The Central National Bank Building project is moving to City Council.
The Central National Bank Building project is moving to City Council.

The 90 spots will cost the city $20,000 per space. Bochis told the DIA that the additional 30 spots would require the garage design to include subterranean construction and bump the price to $25,000 per space.

The DIA made its parking recommendation to Council under its purview as the city Office of Public Parking, according to board documents.

DIA CEO Lori Boyer said Augustine Development did not submit estimated maintenance costs or verification of the garage construction costs, despite requests for the information. 

Boyer said DIA staff used the national average for parking garage maintenance costs to determine that the city’s maximum share of the expense should be $600, or $54,000 annually.

For automated garages, Boyer said the city’s costs should be $300 to $400 per space, but she said it is unclear if the Central National Bank garage will be staffed or automated.

Board member Oliver Barakat said approving a REV grant for the multifamily project is “a no-brainer.” 

Bill Adams said it’s “disappointing to hear” that the developer did not deliver the information to help the board with its decision.

“It would be nice to hear from them, at a minimum, that they’re just not there yet if that was the case, rather than no response,” Adams said. 

“It sounds like most of the concerns have been addressed.”

Adams attended the meeting virtually, making him unable to vote on the deal.

The garage also will support two other Augustine Development Group projects in the Downtown North Core — the $18 million, 100-room renovation of the historic Ambassador Hotel next door at 420 N. Julia St. and the $35 million, 135-unit multifamily renovation of the 18-story Independent Life Building at 233 W. Duval St.

The proposed multifamily and parking garage construction are part of a mixed-use project that includes renovating the historic Central National Bank Building.

According to a DIA staff report, the bank building would hold 36 apartments and about 5,769 square feet of ground-floor retail space.

DIA Director of Downtown Real Estate and Development Steve Kelley said Oct. 20 that the developer plans to ask the city for incentives to renovate the former bank building through the Downtown Preservation and Revitalization Program. 

Those incentives would require another Council vote.



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