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Jacksonville: Bay Street building eyed for lofts

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Bay Street building eyed for loft condos

Another Bay Street building downtown is targeted for redevelopment

Churchwell Lofts LLC, a group headed by area nightclub owner Bob Green, wants to buy the 301 E. Bay St. building and turn the four-story structure into ground-floor commercial space and 21 loft condominiums on the upper three floors.

Green's group has applied for $900,000 in Historic Preservation Trust Fund assistance to restore the 99-year-old building and bring the 40,000-square-foot structure up to fire, safety, building and accessibility codes.

The Jacksonville Economic Development Commission is expected to consider the project at a meeting tentatively scheduled May 13.

Commission spokeswoman Jean Moyer said historic funds were not available to cover the Churchwell request but that Downtown Development Authority managing director Al Battle was working on the matter.

"He is evaluating the applications that we have already approved that have not gone forward yet and hopes that we may be able to find some monies there, or he's looking at some other avenues," she said.

"Hopefully by May 13 that will be solved," she said.

Green, managing member of Churchwell Lofts LLC, said construction would start after approvals for the fund assistance. He said renovations would take eight to 10 months, indicating that the project could not be completed before the Feb. 6 Super Bowl. However, he said exterior renovations could be finished by then.

He also said the 10,000-square-foot ground floor might be ready for Super Bowl entertainment.

After the Super Bowl, he envisions the ground floor would be developed as a coffee shop, specialty market, furniture store, breakfast and lunch service or other uses needed by residents there and in the area.

A commission project summary shows that total construction costs are estimated at $6.8 million, and Green said that the trust fund assistance was critical. "Those funds are pretty essential," Green said.

Green expects the 900- to 1,400-square-foot condos to sell at $250 a square foot, indicating prices of $225,000 to $350,000. "It is a classic loft," Green said. He said loft ceiling heights would range from 10 to 12 feet.

Green also is managing partner of Square One in San Marco, Club Five in Five Points and The Atlantic and Ocean Club at the Beaches.

The Churchwell Building opened in 1905 as The Covington Company Building, according to the project summary. It was one of the first commercial structures built after the Great Fire of 1901. The Churchwell brothers bought the structure in 1922 to operate a wholesale business.

The project team includes architects Tom Fisher and Larry Wilson of Rink Reynolds Diamond Fisher Wilson and Paul Weaver of Historic Property Associates.

According to the summary, developers list the source of the $6.8 million as $4.5 million from the lender, $1.1 million in developer equity and $300,000 in tax credit equity along with the $900,000 trust fund money.

The money would be used to spend $3.04 million for construction, $2.8 million to buy the building, almost $400,000 in sales commissions, $250,000 in other fees, $200,000 in marketing and about $94,000 for parking lot acquisition.

Several Bay Street buildings are under renovation for offices, nightclubs, restaurants and other uses.

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Guest donaltopablo

Green expects the 900- to 1,400-square-foot condos to sell at $250 a square foot, indicating prices of $225,000 to $350,000

Is that the going rate for this sort of development? Prices seem kinda of high IMHO.

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Unfortuanetly, for the average person, this seems to be the going rate for most downtown housing right now. All of these projects are selling pretty quick, despite their high prices. A block away at Berkman Plaza, they've been selling riverfront townhmes for $700,000. At least, the rental rates for downtown living are reasonable and similar to the new apartments in the suburbs. Hopefully the city will address this issue soon.

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I think that they are high, but the location and views that these buildings provide do live up to the steep pricetag. I think that Jacksonville is trying to make a little extra money.

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*Bad News*

according to the Jacksonville Daily Record, the deal for this project has fallen through!

From City Notes Section

"Plans to buy and redevelop Bay Street

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Crap! Well, at least the current owners are still pursuing new deals. Let's just hope the next developer that comes along will remodel it, instead of tearing it down. Is the building being protected for its historic factors, or could any buyer just knock it down?

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That is not good. I wish that the plans worked out. I hope that the developer does not lose hope and renovates another building or possibly builds something in downtown.

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