With patience and attention to detail, crews are painstakingly restoring the century-old historic Federal Reserve Bank Building and renovating the adjacent Florida Baptist Convention building — a project that will bring new retail, restaurant and residential space to the heart of downtown Jacksonville.
Built in 1922, the Federal Reserve Bank building at 724 N. Hogan St. will feature an upscale restaurant plus an event/banquet space, offices and an exterior courtyard for outdoor dining.
Completed in 1924, the five-story former Florida Baptist Convention building next door at 218 W. Church St., will be home to 24 apartments plus ground-floor retail and restaurant space.
Both are designated as National Historic Landmark Buildings.
Jacksonville-based JWB Real Estate Captial LLC is reviving and rehabilitating both structures in a project with an estimated investment of nearly $18.5 million.
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“These buildings will add a lot of vibrancy when they are done, and we have torn down too many of our historic buildings, so we need to save the ones we have,” Alex Sifakis, president and co-founder of JWB Real Estate Capital, told the Times-Union. “Historic buildings give a downtown a sense of place, and create interest on the street that increases the desirability of the neighborhood.”
Located near City Hall, the parking lot between Sweet Pete’s and the Federal Reserve will become an outdoor courtyard with an outdoor bar and seating for the restaurants in the two buildings, Sifakis said.
Sifakisalso said they are talking to “a lot of great restaurant operators, but no leases have been signed yet.
Restaurant, event space planned for Federal Reserve Bank
The Federal Reserve will have a basement bar, a high-end, full-service restaurant on the first floor, and high-end event space for weddings, parties and corporate events on the second and third floors, Sifakis said.
“There are soaring 18- to 23-foot ceilings on those floors,” Sifakis said.
A vault in the bank’s basement is still there but it isn’t an ornate vault, he said. Instead, it was a utility vault that probably will be used as a private room and back of house space.
The 100-year-old Federal Reserve Bank Building was originally designed by Henrietta Dozier, who was Jacksonville’s first female architect, Colliers, a global real estate and investment management company handling both the bank and Baptist Convention building projects, said on its website.
The bank building was abandoned for about 40 years before JWB Real Estate Capital acquired it for $1.75 million in a sale recorded Aug. 3, 2020, Duval County property and court records show.
Restaurant, apartments coming to Baptist Convention building
At 98 years old, the renovated Florida Baptist Convention building will feature about 5,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, primarily restaurant and bar space, and 24 residential units on floors two through five, Sifakis said.
The building was the last office building in downtown designed by Henry Klutho, the Colliers website showed.
Known for his “Prairie Style” of architecture, Klutho was instrumental in the rebuilding of Jacksonville following the Great Fire of 1901, according to the Jacksonville Historical Society publication “The Great Fire of 1901” by Bill Foley and Wayne W. Wood.
JWB Real Estate Capital acquired that building for $675,000 in a sale recorded Aug. 26, 2020, county court and property records show.
Restoring the bank building reflects an estimated investment of $7.6 million, while the investment for the Baptist Convention building is estimated at $10.8 million, according to a Jax Downtown Investment Authority summary of major development projects.
Auld & White Constructors LLC is the general contractor for the project, which is required to follow federal guidelines for the restoration of historic buildings.
Construction on the two buildings began last August.
“We have completed most of the structural and exterior work, and are finishing up mechanical, electrical, and plumbing now for both buildings. Drywall is almost done on 218 Church [former Baptist Convention building],” he said.
Sifakis estimated construction will be completed this December.
Historic Federal Reserve Building and former Baptist Convention Building
Address: 424 N. Hogan St. and 218 W. Church St.
Location: Downtown Jacksonville near Sweet Pete’s and City Hall
Federal Reserve Building Project overview: Restore for reuse as an upscale restaurant, bar, special events/banquet space, and an outdoor courtyard
Florida Baptist Convention Building Project: Renovate and convert the building into 24 apartments on the second through fifth floors with ground-floor retail space.
Construction began: August 2021
Work progress: Most of the structural and exterior work has been completed. Workers are finishing up mechanical, electrical and plumbing for both buildings. Drywall is almost done at the Baptist Convention building
Projected completion: December
Estimated combined project cost: About $18.5 million
Developer: JWB Real Estate Capital LLC
Contractor: Auld & White Constructors LLC
This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Restaurants planned for Jacksonville’s historic Federal Reserve Bank