Acram Group has renewed the lease for the Rogers Towers law firm at Riverplace Tower, where property ownership has launched a $10 million capital improvement plan to enhance the high-rise it bought in December 2021 on the Downtown Southbank.
“Our plan is to create a modern and dynamic environment that will foster talent and innovation for the benefit of our employees, clients and community partners,” Rogers Towers Managing Director Joseph Clay Meux Jr. said in a news release.
Meux chairs the firm’s board of directors.
The 28-floor Riverplace Tower is at 1301 Riverplace Blvd.
Acram Group Managing Director Aaron Lazovik
Acram Managing Director Aaron Lazovik said the Rogers Towers firm renewed the lease for 35,000 square feet of space on the 14th and 15th floors. The firm, which has been in the building since 2005, had occupied another half-floor.
Lazovik said the Rogers Towers lease didn’t expire until the start of 2025, “but we were able to proactively renew an important tenant based on the level of commitment ownership demonstrated in the building.”
He said Rogers Towers made a commitment through at least 2037 to maintain its headquarters at Riverplace Tower.
“The Rogers Towers renewal is very important to the building and demonstrates our feeling that it is the best building in the market,” Lazovik said.
JLL Managing Directors Michael Loftin and Jesse Shimp comprise the leasing team for Acram and represented it in the Rogers Towers lease.
Newmark Phoenix Realty CEO Jim Sebesta represented Rogers Towers.
Real estate investor, manager and developer Acram has offices in New York City, Dallas and Greenwich, Connecticut.
Acram said Sept. 7 that Riverplace Tower is 88% leased.
Lazovik said Acram has leased more than 190,000 square feet since acquiring the asset off-market in 2021.
A new tenant, New York law firm Rivkin Radler, moved into the 10th floor in March. The firm announced in April it opened in Jacksonville as its sixth office and its second largest with 20 attorneys.
Rayonier Advanced Materials had leased that floor but renewed for two floors instead of three.
Other major tenants include The Energy Authority Inc., which continues to lease the top 2½ floors; Ameris Bancorp; the BDO Jacksonville tax, assurance and financial advisory services office; Hoefer Welker; Ervin Lovett Miller; and Macquarie Global Services (USA) LLC.
Lazovik and Loftin said the leases include the Rogers Towers, RYAM and Hancock Askew renewals; Rivkin Radler; and leases with The Energy Authority, BDO and Ameris that were signed while Acram had the building under contract. He said there were eight more, of which half were new.
Lazovik expects to complete the $10 million renovation by the end of 2024.
The Class A 28-story Southbank riverfront tower was built in 1966-67 for Gulf Life Insurance Co.’s headquarters.
Acram and its partner, Oak Hill Advisors, bought it Dec. 22, 2021, for $72.3 million.
Acram and Oak Hill bought the 460,000-square-foot property, which includes a 765-space, five-story/10-level parking garage and a 2.2-acre, 238-space surface parking lot on the Riverplace Boulevard side of the neighboring DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Jacksonville Riverfront.
Before the purchase, the tower had cosmetic upgrades to the riverfront tenant lounge in 2019.
Acram and Oak Hill said upon the purchase they would spend more than $10 million to renovate the property, which is the current program.
Lazovik said Acram will bid out the work after Hoefer Welker Partner Trevor Lee and his team complete the architectural design.
Among the updates:
• Acram will make the 20th floor an amenity floor with a sky-level tenant lounge. The floor had been a mechanical floor, so Acram is creating new usable space. It will include a tenant lounge with a wet bar and high-top seating that looks across the St. Johns River to EverBank Stadium, as well as an open kitchen area, two conference rooms that can combine into one, and games, pingpong and a golf simulator.
Lazovik said the space faces the river to the north and east.
He said the conference space has the latest technology for Zoom and other needs.
“We think it emphasizes our position in the market,” Lasovik said.
• Acram will upgrade the ground-level gym, which faces the riverfront and is available to office tenants. Acram will add new equipment, updated exercise classrooms, televisions and screens, and make other improvements. It will have outdoor access. It doesn’t use a third-party operator.
• It has begun a $5.2 million modernization and renovation of the elevator cabs. All 16 elevator cars in the tower will be improved, including the freight elevators. Design work has begun for construction next year.
• The garage will be improved with lighting, wayfinding signage, painting and other upgrades “to make it work more efficiently.”
• Acram is speculatively renovating vacant suites ranging from 1,000 to 5,000 square feet. Some have glass offices and modern furniture.
Riverplace Tower amenities on the ground floor include the Village Bread Cafe and the Chappell Schools child-care facility.
The glass-enclosed two-level Skyline Room atrium area on the ground floor and the first floor also continues to operate as a lounge area, conference space and for event rental.
Loftin said the building’s architecture and location “have always elevated Riverplace Tower.”
“We continue to see a flight-to-quality where the best managed, highly amenitized Class A buildings are the most in demand,” he said.
Then and now
Jacksonville residents might remember that the private University Club dining room, lounge and event space operated on the full 27th floor and a small athletic club on the 28th floor. They closed in December 2016.
Ameris renovated and leased the 27th floor and has since consolidated to another floor. The Energy Authority built-out space on the 26th and 27th floors and part of the 25th.
Acram and Oak Hill bought the property from Lingerfelt Common Wealth Partners, which purchased it in 2014 from Jacksonville-based Gate Petroleum Co.
Gate Riverplace Co. owned it for 21 years, having paid $7.5 million for the tower property in 1993.
The release said Acram’s decision to invest in Riverplace Tower, built in the 1960s, “coincides with a time when employers understand that choosing the right office space can significantly impact a company’s recruitment and retention efforts."
“Employers are being more selective when deciding on an office location and are increasingly gravitating toward projects with an established presence in the market, and a high success rate in completing leases with quality tenants.”