JACKSONVILLE, Fla — When crews begin the task of a $30 million restoration project to convert a vacant downtown high-rise to an apartment building and grocery store, they will have their work cut out for them.
Photos show conditions inside the old Independent Life Building, the former site of JEA's headquarters, located at 233 W. Duval St. Last month, Jacksonville City Council approved $3 million toward the restoration project in an 18-0 vote, marking the second time the city has agreed to partner with Augustine Development Group.
The planned $30 million renovation of the Independent Life Building would use $3 million from the historic preservation trust fund. Pep 10 LLC, which is the corporate entity for the development, plans to put 140 apartments, a 21,000 square foot grocery store, and a 10,000 square foot restaurant and lounge in the building.
The building has about 8 feet of water standing in the basement, according to the First Coast News photojournalist who shot the photos below.
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PHOTOS: Conditions inside Downtown Jacksonville high-rise slated for $30 million restoration
City Council previously agreed to an amended development agreement in May 2020 that committed $1.5 million in historic preservation fund money to help finance renovating the abandoned Ambassador Hotel, which is a few blocks from the Independent Life Building.
The Downtown Investment Authority has given several months of extensions to the developer to get started on the Ambassador work, most recently with a 21-day extension to work through delays from a bridge loan lender.
The high-rise was built in 1955 and served as the insurance company's headquarters until 1974 during an era when downtown was a national hub for insurance companies.
JEA later purchased the building for its headquarters before moving out in 1988.
KJB Architects designed the building as part of the Modernist architectural movement. The building has local landmark status.