The Downtown Investment Authority approved $6.033 million in historic preservation loans for Corner Lot Development Group’s proposed renovation of the Jones Bros. Furniture Co. building.
The board voted 6-0 on May 17 to provide financial assistance for the $16.7 million, 29-unit apartment reuse portion of the Jones Bros. project. The deal requires City Council approval.
Board Chair Carol Worsham and member Oliver Barakat were absent for the vote.
The agreement would provide the San Marco-based developer with a forgivable and deferred loan package through the DIA’s Historic Preservation and Revitalization Program.
According to the DIA agreement term sheet, about $4.82 million of the $6.033 million would be forgiven after five years at a rate of 20% per year.
Corner Lot, through its subsidiary CLL Jones Bros LLC, would receive:
• A $2.089 million Historic Preservation, Restoration and Rehabilitation Loan.
• A $2.736 million Code Compliance Forgivable Loan.
• A $1.206 million deferred principal loan.
The developer’s plan includes 29 one-bedroom and studio apartments in the 97-year-old, seven-story building at 520 N. Hogan St. near City Hall. The design also shows a co-work office suite and service spaces.
The DIA did not take up what officials expect to be a future property tax incentives request by Corner Lot for a 145,000-square-foot, 148-apartment addition to the historic building.
The effort to redevelop the historic Jones Bros. building has been underway for nearly five years and DIA officials say rising construction costs are slowing Corner Lot’s efforts for the new construction part of the project.
DIA CEO Lori Boyer told the board that Corner Lot’s plan to restore and remodel the Jones Bros. building with the city’s historic incentive dollars is financially viable. But the developer is working through problems with the capital financing stack on the new construction.
She said the developer could ask Council for a larger property tax incentive than the DIA is authorized to approve.
It is not clear how much Corner Lot wants in a property tax break.
“The new construction with the REV grants we can offer is not economically feasible,” Boyer said.
“At this time, construction costs went up, so they’re either going to have to wait or they’d go to Council and ask for something above and beyond what we have (the) programmed capacity to provide.”
In December 2022, the Downtown Development Review Board gave final approval for Corner Lot and renderings by architects Bold Line Design and Robbins Design Studio for the full Jones Bros. project.
The new apartment building is planned on the site of the Farah’s Uptown Deli building, which would be demolished. The project includes the apartments and 25 internal parking spaces.
Corner Lot CEO Andy Allen said in April 2022 he expected the total project to cost $35 million to $40 million.
It appears now that Corner Lot will separate the project into two phases.
Boyer said May 17 that the historic Jones Bros. building would be renovated so it can be connected to new structure when the developer is ready to proceed.
Allen and his project development partner, Elias Hionides, have worked on the Jones Bros. plan since 2018.
Hionides is vice president of real estate company and property manager Petra.
Duval County property records show that Mandarin Emporium Inc., led by Chris Hionides, sold the 0.41-acre Farah’s Uptown Deli property to CLL Jones Bros in April 2022 for $675,000.
The Corner Lot subsidiary bought the 0.13-acre Jones Bros. site at the same time from the Shoppes of Lakeside Inc., also controlled by Chris Hionides, for $1.15 million.
Elias Hionides is the son of Chris Hionides.
A previous Jones Bros. agreement between the DIA and ACE JAX LLC, co-managed by Allen and Elias Hionides, called for the city to convey an adjacent 0.17-acre vacant city-owned lot to the company for the project.
At the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, Boyer granted ACE JAX’s request for a force majeure suspension on its $2.25 million incentives deal approved in 2019 to renovate Jones Bros. that was later terminated.