- September 11, 2020
Corner Lot CEO Andy Allen says his company’s joint venture with JWB Real Estate Capital spent nearly $750,000 to prepare the former First Baptist Church of Jacksonville’s main auditorium Downtown for “Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience.”
The interactive traveling art exhibit is scheduled Sept. 16 to Nov. 16.
Through subsidiaries, the companies bought the auditorium at 119 W. Beaver St. and the neighboring parking garage at 712 Hogan St. N. for $8.39 million on June 24.
According to Corner Lot, contractor Opus Group removed pew seating for 5,000; upgraded the auditorium’s air conditioning, internet, security and bathrooms; added 3 feet of flooring; and made other improvements to prepare for the exhibit.
The city issued a permit Sept. 8 for Opus Group to complete a $500,000 build-out of 23,284 square feet and prepare the former auditorium for Beyond Van Gogh.
Allen said the Jacksonville developers signed a one-year lease with “Beyond Van Gogh” producer Paquin Entertainment Group.
He said he hopes community response to the event will spur the producer and its partner, Normal Studio, to bring more entertainment events to the auditorium in the North Core.
“This is more of a passion play and about bringing an amenity into Downtown Jacksonville,” Allen said.
“Our goal is not only to exceed their expectations but to be one of their top markets,” he said.
“It will show the art and entertainment world that that space in Jacksonville is legitimate.”
Allen said Corner Lot joined JWB in the building purchase “pretty late” in the due diligence process, seeking access to parking for residential and retail developments underway in the area.
Instead of demolishing the 103,016-square-foot auditorium for redevelopment, the companies saw an opportunity to create an event venue that could hold thousands of guests.
“I think as Jacksonville’s Downtown gets (re)developed, we have to do placemaking and give Downtown residents and visitors places to go,” Allen said.
Property records show 119 Beaver Street West LLC and 712 Hogan Street North LLC bought the two city blocks from First Baptist on June 24, paying $2.3 million for the auditorium and $6.09 million for the parking garage.
The venue was built in 1995 and the parking garage has been in operation since 1989, according to the property appraiser’s website.
DPL Lending Fund LLC, the project funding partner, issued mortgages June 24 for the 712 N. Hogan St. and 119 W. Beaver St. properties for almost $6.7 million and $2.65 million, records show.
In the past two years, JWB and Corner Lot have separately purchased multiple Downtown properties for redevelopment.
This includes nearby projects like JWB’s historic Seminole building and a mixed-use apartment, restaurant and entertainment project in the Federal Reserve building at 424 N. Hogan St. and the Baptist Convention Building at 218 W. Church St.
Corner Lot is adapting the historic Jones Bros. Furniture Co. structure and building an eight-story addition for apartments and retail use.
The company also is rehabilitating and adding to the 1928 art deco structure at 1100 N. Main St. in Springfield named 1st and Main — an apartment and retail project.
Across the street from the auditorium, First Baptist completed nearly $1.8 million in interior renovations in March 2021 to the 900-seat Lindsay Memorial Auditorium at 125 W. Ashley St. where it holds services.
Ticket presales are underway for “Beyond Van Gogh” in Jacksonville.
The exhibit’s website says it uses projection technology and an original score to showcase 300 of Van Gogh’s artworks occupying 30,000 square feet.
The exhibit is scheduled to visit at least 50 U.S. cities and seven other countries.
Allen said presales have been strong.
JWB and Corner Lot are working with the city to temporarily close the street in front of the auditorium for food trucks.
Allen said it also would allow easier pedestrian access from the exhibit to James Weldon Johnson Park and to area restaurants and businesses so visitors can “make a night out of it.”
He said the city Downtown Investment Authority and nonprofits Downtown Vision Inc. and Build Up Downtown are helping to market the event.
The exhibit will be open:
• Sunday — 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (last entry at 7 p.m.)
• Monday, Tuesday — closed
• Wednesday, Thursday — 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (last entry at 7 p.m.)
• Friday, Saturday — 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. (last entry at 8 p.m.)
Ticket prices vary. On opening night, they start at $23.99 for children and go up to $73.99 for VIP tickets. The basic timed entry ticket is $39.99. Other tickets are available.
More information and tickets are at vangoghjacksonville.com.