City approves adaptive reuse of historic Independent Life Building

DFI General Contractors is the contractor for the $23.3 million project in the North Core of Downtown Jacksonville.

An artist’s rendering of the renovated Independent Life Building.
An artist’s rendering of the renovated Independent Life Building.
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The city issued a permit March 13 for a $23.3 million construction project to convert the historic Independent Life Building in the Downtown North Core into housing and commercial space.

The adaptive reuse project is at 233 W. Duval St. DFI General Contractors LLC of Palm Bay is the contractor.

Developer Augustine Development Group of St. Augustine intends to convert the 19-story building, which was developed in 1955.

The city issued a permit May 26, 2021, for Ronin Contractors LLC of Green Cove Springs to demolish the interior of the building at a cost of $1 million.

Interior demolition includes removing lead and asbestos, nonload-bearing walls and two elevators.

Augustine Development Group plans 135 studio, one- and two-bedroom units on floors two through 16 at an average size of 700 to 750 square feet. 

It plans a 21,000-square-foot grocery store on the ground floor, a 10,000-square-foot restaurant and an executive sky lounge.

The project has been in review and planning for more than three years.

The former Independent Life and Accident Insurance Co. home office building was used by its namesake company and then by city-owned utility JEA as its headquarters from 1976 through the mid-1990s. It has since been vacant.

Augustine Development Group President Bryan Greiner and investment partner DLP Capital LLC bought the building Sept. 30, 2019, for $3.7 million.

In April 2020, City Council designated the Independent Life Insurance Company Building a local landmark, easing the way toward the renovation project.

The Downtown Development Review Board approved Dasher Hurst Architects’ design in December 2020.

The Jacksonville Planning and Development Department approved a Certificate of Appropriateness in December 2020 citing the construction work’s review under a local Historic Trust Fund application and review by the National Park Service under the Federal Historic Tax Credit Program.

On Jan. 26, 2021, the Jacksonville City Council approved a $3 million historic preservation grant for Augustine Development Group’s proposed $30 million renovation.

The grant from the city’s Historic Preservation Trust Fund helped to finance Augustine Development subsidiary PEP10 LLC’s plans for the 135-unit apartment development.

On the exterior, Augustine Development Group plans to clean and replace broken glass and add a reproduction of the original “Independent” sign at the top of the building. 

The spire rising above the roof will be restored and reilluminated, according to site plans.

The streetscape and pedestrian walkways also will be redeveloped.



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