A Downtown Investment Authority committee on Thursday approved a request for a $1.65 million forgivable loan requested by the developers of a project on East Bay Street, setting the stage for the full authority board to consider the request.
Nightlife Innovations Inc., through 327 E Bay St. LLC, seeks to renovate a minimum of 38,154 square feet of leasable space at 333 E. Bay St. with a proposed use of entertainment, food and beverage venue on each floor under related ownership.
The Downtown Investment Authority’s Strategic Implementation Committee reviewed rehabilitation efforts on the building, which are centered on the second floor, with the development also including repairs to the exterior structure.
The building is divided into seven units, including Element Bistro+Bar and Myth Nightclub, which the owner plans to keep as tenants. Nightlife Innovations Inc.’s private investment into the property will be $2.96 million, according to city documents.
The two-story building, built in 1908, was designated a local historic landmark by Jacksonville City Council in 2022, making it eligible for a loan from the Downtown Preservation and Revitalization Program funds. The resolution will go before the DIA board March 15 and would also have to be approved by the City Council.
“The unification of that appearance to a more historic standard I think is going to be beneficial for this area,” DIA Director of Downtown Real Estate and Development Steve Kelley said.
Most of the loan would be on a five-year term, with 20% of the principal forgiven each year if the developers meet their obligations. The incentive package also includes $331,000 that would have to be paid back in 10 years, with the interest rate set at the prevailing 10-year treasury note rate.
In other business, an extension requested by the Ambassador Hotel project was tabled, with the committee saying they wanted to hear from the developer in person. Committee Chair Braxton Gilliam asked for the developer to be present at the March 15 regular DIA board meeting where the matter will be brought up again.
In July 2018, St. Augustine-based owner Axis Hotels LLC purchased the 420 N. Julia Street structure. The DIA approved a $1. 5 million Historic Preservation Trust Fund Grant u later that year and entered into a redevelopment agreement with the developer in early 2019. In 2020, the agreement was reworked to include a multifamily housing component of the project. In 2021, the DIA entered into a second redevelopment agreement to provide Axis Hotels additional time for the completion of the development.
Kelley recommended a 90-day extension, moving the completion date from March 31 to June 30. Kelley said the DIA would then seek an approval from City Council for another extension from June 30 to Sept. 30.
“They had problems with supply chains — namely the windows in the property have been cited repeatedly as one of the issues they’re having,” Kelley said.
Attorney Cynthia Trimmer, representing Axis Hotels LLC, said the windows were the main holdup.
“There’s one window provider. They were supposed to start providing them in July of (2022),” she said. “We’re now hoping in 2023 we will finally receive those and move forward.”
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