The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department wants to use the adjacent building to expand its offices.
The Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission recommended approval Wednesday to demolish a building owned by First Baptist Church at 604 N. Hogan St. for parking.
First Baptist owns the former Gulf Life Insurance Building, which Duval County property records show is a two-story, 10,500-square-foot building constructed in 1947.
First Baptist Church of Jacksonville Inc. bought the property in 1996 from Jacksonville Area Legal Aid Inc.
The commission determined the building did not meet the extent of the required criteria needed to recommend preservation and to seek landmark status with the city.
The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department proposes to buy three parcels on the block, which includes the Gulf Life Building and the four-story office building at 211 W. Ashley St.
The department intends to renovate the adjacent office building for office expansion and use the other parcels for parking.
According to a Nov. 14 memo from the Historic Preservation Section of the Jacksonville Planning and Development Department, the building is within the Downtown National Register Historic District and reflects the Art Deco/Art Moderne style.
The district is a federal designation and applies only to protection from federal projects such as a planned highway that would affect the property. It does not apply as a local restriction. City Council would need to award the building landmark status.
The building is listed as a contributing property in the historic district.
Jacksonville architect A. Eugene Cellar designed the building. His portfolio includes designs for other Jacksonville buildings, including schools, churches, stores, apartments, warehouses and homes.
According to the memo, the building has decay. Remnants of its use as the Gulf Life Building survive in the stamped stone blocks with the initials GL.
“The building is a classic example of Art Moderne and is one of the best examples in the Downtown National Register Historic District. The nomination for the historic district lists 10 Art Deco style buildings Downtown and this structure is one of the best examples of the style,” said the memo.
The memo addressed the building’s suitability for preservation or restoration by stating the applicant did not provide information regarding the condition of the building.
City Council will consider the commission’s recommendation for final determination.