Permit issued for JU College of Law build-out Downtown

Work is underway for the renovations at the historic 121 Atlantic Place building.

Jacksonville University College of Law is building-out space at 121 W. Forsyth St. Downtown, the 121 Atlantic Place Building.
Jacksonville University College of Law is building-out space at 121 W. Forsyth St. Downtown, the 121 Atlantic Place Building.
Photo by Monty Zickuhr
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The city issued a permit Feb. 29 for the $3.1 million build-out for the Jacksonville University College of Law Downtown.

Jacksonville-based Auld & White Constructors LLC is the contractor for the project to build-out four floors totaling 47,335 square feet for the law school at 121 W. Forsyth St.

TTV Architects of Jacksonville is the architect. The building owner is International Management Co., through 121 Atlantic Place Holdings.

The city had taken a first step Jan. 22 toward helping fund the school’s move into renovated space in the historic 121 Atlantic Place building.

The Mayor’s Budget Review Committee approved a request from the Office of Economic Development to file legislation with Jacksonville City Council to transfer $3.5 million from the general fund toward the law school’s $12.5 million relocation.

A rendering shows the Jacksonville University College of Law signage at the 121 Atlantic Place Building at Forsyth and Hogan Street.

Ordinance 2024-0107 authorizes the mayor and JU to executive an economic development agreement. The legislation was introduced Feb. 13 and is in Council committee review.

If approved by the full Council, the money would be the first installment in a two-year funding agreement totaling $6.5 million. 

The money would provide for general operations of the law school, including lease payments and design services. 

Terms of the agreement call for JU to obtain a lease of not less than 15 years, including extensions, and to pay back the $3.5 million on a sliding scale if the university leaves the Downtown campus or closes the school within 30 months after the money is disbursed.

The terms also allow the city to claw back the funding if JU doesn’t receive a certificate of occupancy for its new space by Dec. 31, 2024.

JU said the expansion would accommodate as many as 450 law students, plus faculty and staff, within five years. City officials have described the funding as an investment in redeveloping and reinvigorating Downtown. 

“This is exactly the type of transformational project that Jacksonville needs in its Downtown revitalization goals – the economic vitality of hundreds of college students living and learning in the downtown core and the preservation of one of Jacksonville’s iconic historic buildings,” said Karen Bowling, chief administrative officer for the city, in a November JU news release.

The College of Law launched in 2022 in a 15,000-square-foot space on the 18th floor of the VyStar Tower at 76 S. Laura St., with plans to expand into a more permanent space. 

JU announced in November 2023 that it had reached a 10-year lease agreement that includes extension options with 121 Atlantic Place’s owner for 50,000 square feet of space spread across four contiguous floors of the building at Forsyth and Hogan streets.

Demolition work is underway to transform the space into classrooms, study and common areas, meeting spaces, faculty and staff offices and library spaces. 

A rendering of the ground-floor student space at the Jacksonville University College of Law at 121 W. Forsyth St. Downtown. The college is taking the space now occupied by Workscapes.
Jacksonville University

A permit application for the property shows plans on the first floor for a reception area, student lounge, administrative offices, catering area and stairs to the second floor. Those features will be in a space previously occupied by Workscapes, which has moved to Dennis + Ives in the Rail Yard District. 

The first floor is also the site of the Jacksonville Daily Record’s offices, which will remain there.

The second floor will include classrooms, flex space, counseling rooms, administrative offices, a faculty conference room, a reception room and other features, while the third floor will be used for instructional spaces, library offices, faculty and administrative offices and a lounge. 

The fourth floor will contain offices for the dean and administrators, the law library, instructional spaces and flex space. 

Plans show that the name “College of Law” will replace “121 Atlantic Place” from the Forsyth Street-facing front of the building above the door. 

Plans show a new "College of Law" sign replacing the 121 Atlantic Place sign at the historic building at 121 W. Forsyth St.
Jacksonville University

JU has said the space would be ready for move-in by summer 2024. The university will leave VyStar Tower when the 121 Atlantic Place space is ready. 

The 10-story building, completed in 1909, was the headquarters of the Atlantic National Bank. A portion of the space being leased by JU was occupied by the Jacksonville Transportation Authority’s administrative offices until the JTA moved to the Regional Transportation Center in LaVilla in 2020.

JU’s law school was the first to open in Florida in more than 20 years, according to The Florida Bar. 

When the college is at full capacity, JU expects 400 to 450 students, staff and faculty to seek housing Downtown.

Jacksonville lost its only law school, Florida Coastal School of Law, in August 2021 after the U.S. Department of Education revoked the private, for-profit school’s access to the Title IV student loan program.



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