Lotus Commercial USA LLC plans to renovate the historic former Furchgott’s Department Store building Downtown into 40 apartments, retail and office space.
The building, at 128 W. Adams St., is occupied on the ground floor by the De Real Ting Cafe restaurant.
The city Downtown Development Review Board will review Lotus’ request for conceptual design approval for the adaptive reuse project Jan. 13.
The DDRB staff report released Jan. 6 recommends the board approve the plans.
The project will add one- and two-bedroom apartments on the upper floors of the six-story, 65,000-square-foot building, the report said.
A project description and floor plan by project design firm Robbins Design Studio show three ground-floor retail suites along Hogan and Adams streets, as well as commercial office space.
The basement will house storage and amenity space.
Lotus CEO Soo Gilvarry said the company and the owners of De Real Ting Cafe have not reached an agreement if the business will remain in the building.
Gilvarry said the restaurant owner is aware of the renovation plan.
“De Real Ting has been great in that location and with entertainment. They’ve been really good. We do not have a specific plan yet,” she said.
“We support them and we haven’t reached a final decision yet.”
A voicemail message at De Real Ting Cafe says the restaurant is closed for a family emergency and will reopen Jan. 13.
Lotus Commercial acquired the Furchgott’s building in March 2020 for $1.3 million.
Gilvarry said as of Jan. 7 she did not have a final estimate on the total renovation cost.
She formed Lotus in March 2020 with her business partner and husband, James Gilvarry, according to the Florida Division of Corporations.
The historic restoration will be the Gilvarrys’ first development project in Jacksonville. Soo Gilvarry said they are looking for more investments Downtown.
The Lotus design and construction team comprises five Jacksonville-based firms — Danis Construction; KW Structural Engineering; civil and landscape engineer Baker Design Build; NineOaks Development; and TLC Engineering Solutions.
City Council voted 18-0 on Oct. 26 to grant Lotus’ request to designate the 81-year-old building a local landmark.
The action could make the project eligible for forgivable and deferred principal historic restoration loans from the city and Downtown Investment Authority.
Soo Gilvarry said Lotus intends to apply for city incentives to help finance the project.
The Furchgott’s Department Store building was built in 1941 and was one of the largest remaining retailers in Downtown when it closed in 1984, according to a report in August by the city Planning and Development Department.
The art deco building was designed by the Jacksonville architectural firm Marsh & Saxelbye, which the report called “the most prolific” firm working in the city from 1919-46.
If the DDRB approves the plans Jan. 13, Lotus and Robbins will have to return for final approval before work can begin.