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225 Laura Street: A Downtown Core Renovation Project

Ron Chamblin of Chamblin's Uptown ponders the street level potential of his latest downtown project and asks for advice from Metro Jacksonville's readers.

Published January 28, 2013 in Development      69 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

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I have two motivations in writing this article for MJ readers, and whoever else might chance upon it.  The first is informational, as I assume that some of the readers would like to know how an average person, a novice, with little funds, attacks the decisions and problems involved in a small and typical core renovation project.  The second reason is somewhat selfish, as it involves my need for feedback and help regarding what to do with the street level floor of a three story building which is about to be renovated.  It seems a given that the two upper floors will be apartments, not only because we have too many empty offices in the core, but offices would require an elevator installation, thus eliminating valuable floor space.  

The three-story 225 N. Laura Street building, built in 1904 of wood, with a brick faade added later, is currently occupied at street level by Gus’s Shoe Repair.  Although Gus’s owner, Greg, has expressed his willingness to remain as a tenant, and would consider moving out for several months during renovation, I suspect that, once settled in his new space, he would not wish to engage the arduous task of returning to the location all the heavy equipment and shelving.  Additionally, I’ve determined that by operating another business there myself, such as a restaurant, I can probably make four to six times the net profit with the street level space of the building as compared to the post-renovation rent agreed to by Greg of $2,500.00 per month ($15/sq. ft. x 2,000 sq. ft).  Although the lower space has a footprint of 2,400 sq. ft., the stairway to the upper apartments leaves about 2,000 sq. ft. for actual use.

 
225 North Laura Street

While leasing the street level space to others has the advantage of simplicity, the need to repay the renovation loan with a reasonable margin requires that I utilize the space more effectively by operating my own business.

Beginning within weeks, the upper two floors are to receive more cleanout and basic demo to prepare for apartments.  The architect has already completed draft drawings for the two upper levels; each level having one 2-bedroom apartment, and two 1-bedroom apartments.  Currently, there are five very small apartments on each floor, which have not been occupied since the mid-nineties.  Four of the apartments will have beautiful views of Hemming Park, giving the tenant the opportunity to gaze upon the beautiful oaks and the park people.

The entire building will be gutted, getting new windows, floors, walls, and ceilings.  All electrics and plumbing will be replaced, and new air conditioning installed.  Each apartment will have its own washer/dryer.  The entire building will have a new sprinkler system, which, although not a firm code requirement, is a tradeoff which precludes fire escapes to the outside from each bedroom.  Given the wood structure of the building, I am inclined to insist on sprinklers on the ten foot ceilings in any case, as it will be safer, and the building insurance will be less.  Of course, being residential upstairs, no elevator is required.  

I must offer an opinion about the code enforcement and building inspection departments, including the fire marshal’s office.  Although it is possible for a building renovator or a builder to engage an initially unreasonable field inspector, in most cases, if you are patient and considerate to their responsibilities, you can work things to a good solution.  Or, you can take the issue to one who is above the inspector, and resolve the issue.  In my experience, the rules and codes are necessary for safety, efficiency, or simply sound building practices, and are not frivolously designed, as some suggest, to impede your progress.  Therefore, I suggest that you listen to the inspector, or his or her supervisor, read the code, and in most case, if it is at all possible, the folks in code enforcement, building inspections, or the fire marshal’s office, will bend over backwards to ease your path to a compromise.  There are usually sound reasons for the codes and restrictions, designed over decades.  And in many cases, because a particular situation is outside of the fundamental reasons for the codes, a good compromise can be agreed upon.

Some estimated numbers.  The renovation of the building will cost $500,000 to $600,000, which means about $700,000.  I bought the building in April of 2012 for $290,000, putting about $65,000 down, and pay the previous owner, who holds the mortgage, $1,840 per month.  Greg is currently paying me $1,700 per month rent.  A balloon note of about $192,000 is due in April of 2015.  

Since I have no money for the serious renovation phase, I will have to borrow about $800,000 to pay off the $190,000 balloon note and to perform the renovations.  My payments on an $800,000 loan, if over 15 years at 5%, would be about $6,400 per month.

Ideally the building income will pay the loan payments, the building insurance, and the property taxes, which will probably zoom upwards, after renovation, from the current $4,800 per year to perhaps $12,000 per year.  Therefore the monthly cost demand on the building will be the loan payment of $6,400, plus a building insurance premium of $1,000 per month, plus the property tax of $1,000, for a total outlay of $8,400 per month to own the building.

How is this $8,400 going to be paid?  The six apartments on the upper two floors, of which three are already reserved by future renters, will have moderate rent levels.  The second floor, losing more space to the stairway, will have a small 385 sq. ft. apartment, a 521 sq. ft. apartment, and a larger, two bedroom 834 sq. ft. apartment.  The third floor will have a 515 sq. ft., a 624 sq. ft., and a two bedroom 720 sq. ft. apartment, giving a total of 3,600 sq. ft. of apartment rental space in the building.  If the going rental rate is $1.00 per square foot, then the income from the apartments will be $3,600 per month.  Perhaps the smaller apartments, with the better views, will rent for a little more than the $1.00 per sq. ft., so perhaps we could expect about $4,000 total per month from the six apartment rentals.  



Because of the interest I’ve seen by people wanting to rent these apartments, with views over the park, I expect to have full occupancy upon renovation.  The limited $4,000 apartment rental income is why renting to Greg would place me in a vulnerable situation, as his contribution of only $2,500, plus the apartment rent on only $4,000 would total only $6,500 per month, which would be $1,900 below the $8,400 cost to own the building.

To save the day, I could have a restaurant operation, with an expected gross of $2,500 per day, and perhaps a net income of $400 per day, thereby contributing about $12,000 per month (400 x 30) net income.  This figure, plus the apartment income of $4,000, would produce a total income of $16,000 per month from the building, thereby exceeding the monthly building cost of $8,400 by about $7,600 per month.  This monthly net income from the building would of course buy a lot of beer and drugs.  

But what about certain aspects of the Restaurant, or other options for the street level use?

I have so far assumed that a restaurant would be the best use of the street level spot.  Is this a valid assumption? And is a restaurant a use that would most enhance the downtown core near Hemming Park?  

A wall on the first floor, down the middle of the building, which could be removed if desired, will allow for two businesses to operate on the first floor if desired, which was probably the case during certain periods of the building’s history.  Total building width is only 30 feet.    

If we were to put a full restaurant in the space, I envision leaving the current small coffee shop in the bookstore environment, and to continue offering “light stuff”, the veggie menu, the bagels and the espressos and coffees.  The larger restaurant eating locations would be flexible, so that the customers could eat inside, take their food to the sidewalk tables, or to the bookstore caf tables.  Any opinions on this?    
           
If we were to do the restaurant, and because I and many others are breakfast persons, my intention is to offer a full breakfast, of a quality which will be second to none, seven days per week.  Breakfast would begin at 6:30 a. m., allowing an hour and one-half before parking meters wake up.  

Although our limited space in the current bookstore caf has not allowed it, I’ve often envisioned a goal of offering a menu and quality of service and ambiance such that people will drive for miles to enjoy it.  My hopes is that the upcoming larger restaurant space, along with the time to plan and design the perfect layout, and the hiring of a good chef/manager, will allow us to eventually achieve the goal of offering the ideal dining environment, which would be a great draw to the core.  I envision evening hours at a later date.  The decisions regarding the type of food for the lunch crowd, and the kind of menus for the evenings, is crucial.  Any opinions on this?  The selection of a chef for the operation will also be a crucial decision, as I am quite ignorant about food, menus, and food preparation.  

Another option is to close entirely the small coffee bar in the bookstore, and utilize the space for more bookshelves.  But then, anyone wishing to have bagels and espresso in the bookstore environment would have to carry it over from the adjacent new restaurant.  Of course, if the current coffee bar is closed, I suppose the waitresses, who serve the food to the sidewalk tables, could also serve the food to the bookstore patio tables, or the bookstore inside tables. I must admit that I like the idea of keeping the small coffee bar in the bookstore, and then concentrating on a major restaurant operation in the new space.    

With this in mind, and with my admitted ignorance about restaurants in general, I hope that the creative posters on Metro Jacksonville, will offer feedback and ideas for the restaurant type, and other aspects of it; or, if the restaurant in some opinions is not the best use, then to offer an alternative use for the street level space at the location, keeping in mind that the lower floor must contribute at least several thousand dollars net income to the operation so that the building cost of $8,400 can be covered, with reasonable room to spare.  

Property taxes.  As for owning buildings in the city, I pay at this point, about $4,100 per month in property taxes for five commercial buildings.  Thank goodness all buildings are occupied and producing income except for the upper two floors of the 225 building.  Being seventy years of age now, I figure that by the time I get the loans down to a tolerable level, which will be at the age of ninety, I will begin to think about retiring.  I’m already thinking about a second career, perhaps becoming a tap dancer, maybe a professional boxer, or a marriage counselor.      

Any core building purchase/renovation project, besides ideally being made to produce income upon completion, must fit the financial scenario of the buyer/developer.  The only reason I was able to “do” the bookstore building, purchased in 2006, is because it was small enough so that I could afford to do the project, and it was big enough so that I would have enough space to display enough books “and” offer the caf to customers so that I could create sufficient income.  As it turned out, the bookstore and the caf do about the same gross sales each month. However, because of the heavy costs to the caf, the bookstore has greater net profit per month.  

So, the significant question for potential buyer/renovators at this point in the stagnated condition of the Jax city core, is “What can I put into this building so that it produces income?”  I suspect that there “are” investors who can afford to buy core buildings.  But they hesitate for now, simply because they realize that there is no plan, with the depressed core,  to guarantee a way to make income with the building.  Once the magic vibrancy threshold is reached in the core; that is, once the residence, worker, retail, and visitor populations reaches a certain level, “then” the problem of having difficulty making money with a property will subside.  We will see more inclinations to buy, renovate, and engage profitably the new upsurge of people in the core.    

Editorial by Ron Chamblin







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69 Comments

DDC

January 28, 2013, 07:00:04 AM
Some very exciting plans you have laid out. I especially like the idea of breakfast on the weekends. Living in Springfield I would gladly come downtown for a good breakfast. Hope things go well for you.

Mr. Charleston

January 28, 2013, 07:13:59 AM
So many restaurants and sandwich shops have come and gone from downtown, including the Landing, that I would think any food service would be extremely risky.  It seems that those who survive focus on breakfast and lunch as the center city is still a ghost town on week nights.  Might hedge your bet in the short term by having retail (I believe a small convenience/cigar/newsstand would do well) occupy half the bottom floor and simply expand the bookstore coffee/sandwich shop into the other half. 

ronchamblin

January 28, 2013, 07:52:30 AM
So many restaurants and sandwich shops have come and gone from downtown, including the Landing, that I would think any food service would be extremely risky.  It seems that those who survive focus on breakfast and lunch as the center city is still a ghost town on week nights.  Might hedge your bet in the short term by having retail (I believe a small convenience/cigar/newsstand would do well) occupy half the bottom floor and simply expand the bookstore coffee/sandwich shop into the other half. 

Interesting option Mr. Charleston.  Of course, Scotties and the new 7-Eleven cover to some degree the convenience store needs.  They might also sell cigars too.  And in my opinon, the newstand, with newspapers and magazines would have survived up until about 15 years ago.  The internet is encroaching into this market more each year.  But you've opened a little window into the idea of splitting the space into two 15' wide spots.  Good input.  That's what is needed now.  I really would like to arrive at the "best" use of the space via this discussion, as I am rather limited in the creativity area.  I think I'm okay with gut feelings, and with project realization once the goal has been set, but I'm in need of ideas as to "the" best use of the space. 

Mathew1056

January 28, 2013, 07:56:15 AM
I would discourage changing anything to do with current coffee shop in the book store. People are creatures of habit and have taken up uptown. The food and service are great and the business has established it's own identity. To move it now would put unnecessary risk on it. If there is to be learned from King Street it is that multiple businesses, even if the properties are under the same owner, creates synergy. Creating an are of dense business with there own character is what turn downtown around is all about. I would love to see a nice 10-15 dollar range restaurant be put in that location. Now that a Brazilian restaurant just went in it would be nice for another ethic cuisine place, pulling from your own cultural background. Another choice would be to offer regionally relevant dishes, i.e. minorcan clam chowder. My only hope is that you stay open all day and by doing so challenge the other downtown establishments to do so. Maybe the girls working at uptown want a few more hours. You could send them next door to do a dinner shift. I'm sure they wouldn't mind that option.

strider

January 28, 2013, 08:06:40 AM
Before even getting to the use of the first floor, I found myself wondering if the Historic Tax options had been explored.  As it was built in 1904 and as it seems it was always first floor commercial and two floors residential, can you qualify for Landmark status?  If so, then you also have available the tax credits that if you can't use them yourself, you can indeed sell to help reduce the cost of the renovation.  I think that while most think that the larger, more architecturally significant buildings are what should be landmarks, the little everyday type buildings are just as important to the urban core, downtown in this case, and so need to be considered important enough to save and protect as well. 

As already stated, restaurants are so risky that including one in a plan to insure you can make the payments seems, well, too risky.  It just appears that your first priority is to find a way to reduce the renovation costs and future ownership costs so that you have more options with funding the payments.

ronchamblin

January 28, 2013, 08:19:07 AM
I would discourage changing anything to do with current coffee shop in the book store. People are creatures of habit and have taken up uptown. The food and service are great and the business has established it's own identity. To move it now would put unnecessary risk on it. If there is to be learned from King Street it is that multiple businesses, even if the properties are under the same owner, creates synergy. Creating an are of dense business with there own character is what turn downtown around is all about. I would love to see a nice 10-15 dollar range restaurant be put in that location. Now that a Brazilian restaurant just went in it would be nice for another ethic cuisine place, pulling from your own cultural background. Another choice would be to offer regionally relevant dishes, i.e. minorcan clam chowder. My only hope is that you stay open all day and by doing so challenge the other downtown establishments to do so. Maybe the girls working at uptown want a few more hours. You could send them next door to do a dinner shift. I'm sure they wouldn't mind that option.


I too am inclined to keep the small bookstore café as it is.  And the full breakfast and an interesting lunch menu is currently high on my list.  The evening dinner success, at this time of low evening downtown population, might get off to a slow start.  Although I realize that “doing” the evening operation must be done in any case, if we are to encourage the synergy you speak of.  The good thing is that we can always hire more workers to work the evenings.  Even now, we get each day, one or two job applications. 

As I type, I’m preparing to visit for the first time, the Uptown Market on Main St. to get some ideas about layout and breakfast.  I’ll be back to continue the conversation later.  Thanks for the input Matthew.

And Strider..... I'll be back soon from breakfast at Uptown.  I'll read your post there, and respond when I return. 

peestandingup

January 28, 2013, 08:37:14 AM
If it were me, I'd just move the mini-cafe part that's currently in Chamblin's & make it into a full fledged coffee shop/house in the new space. That's one thing downtown desperately needs IMO.

Dapperdan

January 28, 2013, 08:44:11 AM
Ron,
 Have you considered a small grocery store in the space that maybe has a counter for food in it? I am not sure if the space would accomodate both, but if you had at least a  small grocer with local, perhaps even organic produce, and a selction of other foods, you would probably be  appealing at least to your renters as they can just come downstairs and shop. Not to mention the countless other downtown people craving any space that sells food they can take home.

buckethead

January 28, 2013, 08:57:26 AM
Firearms and ammunition store.

#WINNING!

ronchamblin

January 28, 2013, 10:00:12 AM
Before even getting to the use of the first floor, I found myself wondering if the Historic Tax options had been explored.  As it was built in 1904 and as it seems it was always first floor commercial and two floors residential, can you qualify for Landmark status?  If so, then you also have available the tax credits that if you can't use them yourself, you can indeed sell to help reduce the cost of the renovation.  I think that while most think that the larger, more architecturally significant buildings are what should be landmarks, the little everyday type buildings are just as important to the urban core, downtown in this case, and so need to be considered important enough to save and protect as well. 

As already stated, restaurants are so risky that including one in a plan to insure you can make the payments seems, well, too risky.  It just appears that your first priority is to find a way to reduce the renovation costs and future ownership costs so that you have more options with funding the payments.

Strider.... I checked on the historic aspect two years ago, and hope I made the right decision to bypass what I assumed to be a lot of paperwork and "stuff" to gain anything substantial from it.  I do want to keep the building front exactly as it is however, with the exception perhaps of an awning.  And regarding the financing....the loan figure of $800,000 is too high for my situation, and therefore I will have to contribute cash to reduce it at least by $200,000.  This reduction ability might come selling my house located on the river in Fleming Island, which is currently being occupied by three formerly homeless persons, two being former occasional Hemming Park occupiers.  For convenience, and to avoid the long drive, I live in the rear of the bookstore.  These days, all I need for a good life is a hot shower every day, clean bed clothes, clean clothes, a little food, books to read, an old Ford to drive, and Metrojax to enjoy and debate within.

But yes, I agree that the two priorities is to reduce the amount borrowed in the first place, thereby reducing the payments, and then to establish the business within the space giving the greatest probability of success.  Will it be a restaurant?  Let's see what is suggested by others.



stephendare

January 28, 2013, 10:06:41 AM
From what I understand, there is a possible ten year timeline on this project?

Is that accurate?

If so, wouldnt it be a better idea to either partner with someone else or find a different developer for the project?

ronchamblin

January 28, 2013, 10:22:50 AM
Ron,
 Have you considered a small grocery store in the space that maybe has a counter for food in it? I am not sure if the space would accomodate both, but if you had at least a  small grocer with local, perhaps even organic produce, and a selction of other foods, you would probably be  appealing at least to your renters as they can just come downstairs and shop. Not to mention the countless other downtown people craving any space that sells food they can take home.

DD... It's 30 wide at the mouth, being about 2,000 sq. ft.  This might at first sound like a good idea but what would happen when, finally, a moderate sized grocery/produce space opens up? 

ronchamblin

January 28, 2013, 10:33:46 AM
Firearms and ammunition store.

#WINNING!

Surely you're joking Mr. Feynman.  But actually, if the time was a decade or two ago, before we realized that guns can be used too easily to kill people, especially if they are scattered all over the landscape much like weeds upon the grass, it might be a good idea.  But thanks, I'll have to pass on this opportunity.

thelakelander

January 28, 2013, 10:38:23 AM
Ron,
 Have you considered a small grocery store in the space that maybe has a counter for food in it? I am not sure if the space would accomodate both, but if you had at least a  small grocer with local, perhaps even organic produce, and a selction of other foods, you would probably be  appealing at least to your renters as they can just come downstairs and shop. Not to mention the countless other downtown people craving any space that sells food they can take home.

DD... It's 30 wide at the mouth, being about 2,000 sq. ft.  This might at first sound like a good idea but what would happen when, finally, a moderate sized grocery/produce space opens up? 

You'll basically be forced to close when whatever goes in the rumored Fresh Market spot in Brooklyn opens in Spring 2014.

Captain Zissou

January 28, 2013, 10:47:19 AM
I looked at the property with a few friends shortly before you purchased the property, Ron, and it looked like a great investment.

Our plan was to leave Gus' shoes in the first floor for the time being, initially demo and clean up the top two floors to be leased out to artists for sleeping and studio space.  Once the real estate market improved, we were going to develop the top 2 floors into 2 units a piece for lease and future condo conversion.  This was before the huge surge towards multi-family development and before some of the progress downtown that has occured over the past 18 months.  Once the top two floors were finished, we were going to address the first floor.  Our timing was based on the Laura Trio project being completed by the time we had finished the apartments so that we could have a better idea of what the area still needs.  More than likely, at least one of the partners involved would have moved into one of the apartments upstairs.

It has been wonderful reading about your progress in the project and it's great to be able to see what a hypothetical for us looks like in the actual process.  I think that a restaurant would be high risk/high reward, but there is plenty of evidence that a well executed concept can thrive downtown even in the worst markets.  Look at Burrito Gallery, Olio, Zodiac, etc......

stephendare

January 28, 2013, 10:47:43 AM
anything like a grocery store would not have time to open downtown in that space before Spring 2014 anyways.

strider

January 28, 2013, 10:57:28 AM
Ron, I think if you really go back and research it, you will find you are making a mistake in not pursuing tax credits.  The federal tax credits have actually enabled many to renovate structures that otherwise would have been lost.  I know of cases where the sale of the tax credits has actually paid a substantial part of the rehab expense.  Each case is different but the potential is there and large enough to justify the paperwork. If you don't have the time, hire someone to do it.

Captain Zissou

January 28, 2013, 11:06:02 AM
We were also going to pursue one of the Laura Street facade grants from DVI when we were looking at the property.  I don't think that money was ever spent and they have gone well beyond the timing deadline with the landing, so maybe they could with you as well. 

stephendare

January 28, 2013, 11:07:40 AM
We were also going to pursue one of the Laura Street facade grants from DVI when we were looking at the property.  I don't think that money was ever spent and they have gone well beyond the timing deadline with the landing, so maybe they could with you as well.

Actually I think Ron has already taken advantage of the facade grant for his tables out front.  Some of the money has been spent.  I bet Riverside Planner could fill us in on the progress of the facade funds....

ronchamblin

January 28, 2013, 11:09:27 AM
From what I understand, there is a possible ten year timeline on this project?

Is that accurate?

If so, wouldn't it be a better idea to either partner with someone else or find a different developer for the project?

I hope it's not accurate, that there is not a ten year time limit.  In any case, I must do things according to my time and money constraints.  I agree that getting a partner with enough money would be a great way to speed up the process of developing the property, but I've always avoided partnerships, which, as I think about it, has a lot to do with why I'm still in business, and one reason why I've expanded overall through the years.

Although many partnerships do quite well, I recommend that all business persons avoid partnerships if at all possible, as one never knows the mental developments over time within the mind of the partner.

And as for finding another developer...... well.... the building sat for many years without anyone purchasing it, or developing it.  And if I did not purchase it in April of last year, it probably would still be sitting there.  As it is, as soon as I complete another construction project, we are going to begin the cleanout and limited demo within weeks.  In fact, if another project had not taken my time and money, I would already be well along on this building.  I suspect that even if I offered the building for sale, no new developer would come to it's rescue. 

Look at all the buildings sitting in our core, with no developers.  The only reason I'm able to "do" this building is because it is small enough for me, "and" it is small enough so that during these depressed times in the core, it can still produce an income, with the right business within.  That's the problem with the larger buildings, such as the Barnett etc.  They are too big to be profitable in the core at this time.  In order for anyone to develop these giants, millions would have to be invested to ensure enough income from them.  On these large buildings, who has the money, the plan, and the wish to risk?  There is not enough ongoing vibrancy/population in the core to invite development of the large buildings.  All we can do now is "work" the smaller projects through to income producers.   

But... you will see my good friend Stephen, the project will soon begin to take shape. Be patient with me.  I suspect that just as you can "smell, feel, and live" the restaurant business, among others perhaps, and therefore you have great confidence in "doing" them, I can "smell, feel, and live" projects such as this, just as some others here on MJ can do.  Therefore, there is sound cause for confidence within me on things like this, even when I don't have, for a time, the money to push aggressively ahead with them.

But... yes, if there was a time limit, I would be in trouble.

stephendare

January 28, 2013, 11:17:29 AM
Ive done more than my fair share of renovations and rehabs in urban environments as well.  Four of them within a block of the building in fact.

I don't doubt that the building would be unpurchased, from the experience of everyone who ever tried to purchase the building from its former owners over the decades.

But there is another side of that coin as well, and that is the slow rot of a building left unused for years.  And perhaps a little discomfort with partners would be worth the money difference in renovating now vs ten years from now.

I am glad to hear that you have experience rehabbing apartments and residential units, it was something I didnt know.  Based on your experience with renting out apartments, what kind of residents are you going to appeal to in the upstairs apartments?

fieldafm

January 28, 2013, 11:25:21 AM
We were also going to pursue one of the Laura Street facade grants from DVI when we were looking at the property.  I don't think that money was ever spent and they have gone well beyond the timing deadline with the landing, so maybe they could with you as well.

Actually I think Ron has already taken advantage of the facade grant for his tables out front.  Some of the money has been spent.  I bet Riverside Planner could fill us in on the progress of the facade funds....

Although Ron is more than capable of speaking for himself, he used the facade grant funds for a pretty spectacular mural over Chamblins which will be painted by Shaun Thurston starting in February.  If you are downtown, watching Shaun's progress throughout this process will make for quite the enjoyable lunch break.

stephendare

January 28, 2013, 11:28:03 AM
We were also going to pursue one of the Laura Street facade grants from DVI when we were looking at the property.  I don't think that money was ever spent and they have gone well beyond the timing deadline with the landing, so maybe they could with you as well.

Actually I think Ron has already taken advantage of the facade grant for his tables out front.  Some of the money has been spent.  I bet Riverside Planner could fill us in on the progress of the facade funds....

Although Ron is more than capable of speaking for himself, he used the facade grant funds for a pretty spectacular mural over Chamblins which will be painted by Shaun Thurston starting in February.  If you are downtown, watching Shaun's progress throughout this process will make for quite the enjoyable lunch break.

Exactly!  And a great use of the DVI money.  The rest of Laura Street should be so lucky.

thelakelander

January 28, 2013, 11:29:59 AM
We were also going to pursue one of the Laura Street facade grants from DVI when we were looking at the property.  I don't think that money was ever spent and they have gone well beyond the timing deadline with the landing, so maybe they could with you as well.

Actually I think Ron has already taken advantage of the facade grant for his tables out front.  Some of the money has been spent.  I bet Riverside Planner could fill us in on the progress of the facade funds....

An email from DVI to me earlier this month. 

Quote
We started with 12 buildings that were eligible for the grant program.  We had 9 owners agree to become involved with the program (now 8 since Ron has purchased Gus’ shoe store).   Of the 8 available 100 Laura Street, Wells Fargo and Chamblin’s are in the process of completing their plans – hopefully in the next month.  The other five are still in the process of finalizing their plans.
 
We want all work to be completed by the end of March – in time for One Spark.
 
Hope this helps.

PeeJayEss

January 28, 2013, 11:32:57 AM
Four of them within a block of the building in fact.

Sweet! Which places?

stephendare

January 28, 2013, 11:40:34 AM
Four of them within a block of the building in fact.

Sweet! Which places?

Two of them are no longer there, but I renovated the top floors of the old Arcade/Center Theatre in the mid 80s, the top two floors of the Investors Building on Adams Street in the late 80s for use as an apartment (before the Schultz acquisition) my old Loft at 47 West Duval and of course the Boomtown space in Hemming Park.

http://jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/082600/dsd_loft.html
http://www.myspace.com/boomtowntheater

sandyshoes

January 28, 2013, 11:45:38 AM
Just playing devil's advocate here;  if I were a tenant, the thought of moving in/out all my belongings when there is only one stairway for everyone to use would scare me off - logistically speaking.  If I were trying to push a sofa upstairs and my neighbors wanted to come down the stairs, you see where that's going.  Perhaps I misunderstand.  A suggestion for something to fill the storefront - as you already have a cafe in the Bookmine, and there is one next door, how about a little neighborhood grocery store, for convenience?  Somebody could run downstairs and pick up whatever they needed, and people nearby could do that on the way home from the office.  Some meats, fresh veggies, staples, a few drugstore type items, laundry soap...nothing huge.  What a dream to have a little mom & pop store.  Wonder if Julie of the Julie's Urban Grocery store would consider something like that, minus her original plans for delivery service?  Thanks for asking for input and thanks for listening.  Whatever you do I know it will be awesome. 

02roadking

January 28, 2013, 12:21:55 PM
We're no Brooklyn, N.Y. but, this would look nice...

devlinmann

January 28, 2013, 12:49:41 PM
Ron Chamblin is a generous and kind man dedicated to the sustained development of downtown.

ronchamblin

January 28, 2013, 12:57:12 PM
Ive done more than my fair share of renovations and rehabs in urban environments as well.  Four of them within a block of the building in fact.

I don't doubt that the building would be unpurchased, from the experience of everyone who ever tried to purchase the building from its former owners over the decades.

But there is another side of that coin as well, and that is the slow rot of a building left unused for years.  And perhaps a little discomfort with partners would be worth the money difference in renovating now vs ten years from now.

I am glad to hear that you have experience rehabbing apartments and residential units, it was something I didnt know.  Based on your experience with renting out apartments, what kind of residents are you going to appeal to in the upstairs apartments?

The Laura Street Facade Grant has been used by me so far to install new tile over the ugly concrete in the entrance and patio, plus the four new tables/umbrellas/chairs out front ($1,600 or so). The Thurston mural will be started within weeks. 
I might have a little left on the $10K grant money.  The Thurston mural takes the largest segment of it.  The use of facade money on the 225 building would be a little shaky, as it will be renovated soon.  I cannot think of a facade change we could do with the grant money, which would not be impacted or covered up by the renovation.

The use of other's money sounds inviting Stephen, but my fear of partnerships exceeds my desire for the assistance from anyone other than a bank.  As far as the residents to which I will appeal regarding the upper apartments..... ?? I'm simply going to build some nice layouts, offer moderate rents, and see what happens.  Given the central location, I expect good interest.  I have absolutely no experience renting out apartments.  It should be interesting.



"Water boils faster when Chuck Norris watches it."

stephendare

January 28, 2013, 01:02:13 PM
Ive done more than my fair share of renovations and rehabs in urban environments as well.  Four of them within a block of the building in fact.

I don't doubt that the building would be unpurchased, from the experience of everyone who ever tried to purchase the building from its former owners over the decades.

But there is another side of that coin as well, and that is the slow rot of a building left unused for years.  And perhaps a little discomfort with partners would be worth the money difference in renovating now vs ten years from now.

I am glad to hear that you have experience rehabbing apartments and residential units, it was something I didnt know.  Based on your experience with renting out apartments, what kind of residents are you going to appeal to in the upstairs apartments?

The Laura Street Facade Grant has been used by me so far to install new tile over the ugly concrete in the entrance and patio, plus the four new tables/umbrellas/chairs out front ($1,600 or so). The Thurston mural will be started within weeks. 
I might have a little left on the $10K grant money.  The Thurston mural takes the largest segment of it.  The use of facade money on the 225 building would be a little shaky, as it will be renovated soon.  I cannot think of a facade change we could do with the grant money, which would not be impacted or covered up by the renovation.

The use of other's money sounds inviting Stephen, but my fear of partnerships exceeds my desire for the assistance from anyone other than a bank.  As far as the residents to which I will appeal regarding the upper apartments..... ?? I'm simply going to build some nice layouts, offer moderate rents, and see what happens.  Given the central location, I expect good interest.  I have absolutely no experience renting out apartments.  It should be interesting.



"Water boils faster when Chuck Norris watches it."

Ah.  sounds like youve a history of negative experience with partners. ron. ;)  They arent for everyone.  And they certainly arent for some.

Perhaps you will find good luck with the Banks.  They seem to be in a generous mood. ;)

Captain Zissou

January 28, 2013, 01:03:44 PM
Just playing devil's advocate here;  if I were a tenant, the thought of moving in/out all my belongings when there is only one stairway for everyone to use would scare me off - logistically speaking.  If I were trying to push a sofa upstairs and my neighbors wanted to come down the stairs, you see where that's going.  Perhaps I misunderstand.

So the 5 minutes where you might prevent someone from coming down the stairs would cause you not to live there for an entire year?  Having seen the property, the views of Hemming and the Snyder memorial alone are worth the price of rent.  I'll pay whoever moves into the 3rd floor front unit $10 just to let me look out over the park for 5 minutes every so often.

sandyshoes

January 28, 2013, 01:13:31 PM
Captain Zissou, you are mistaking me for a physically fit superhuman - only 5 minutes to push a sofa upstairs?   ;D

PeeJayEss

January 28, 2013, 01:20:51 PM
Captain Zissou, you are mistaking me for a physically fit superhuman - only 5 minutes to push a sofa upstairs?   ;D

How many segments are there to moving a sofa up the stairs? You pick it up and go. Either you can lift it the required height for the necessary amount of time or you can't. Were you planning to lift it halfway, go to Chamblins for a cup of coffee, grab lunch, maybe hit Bed Bath and Beyond (if you have time), then come back and finish the job?

Ron: I'll be interested in renting when the time comes...

stephendare

January 28, 2013, 01:27:32 PM
Captain Zissou, you are mistaking me for a physically fit superhuman - only 5 minutes to push a sofa upstairs?   ;D

How many segments are there to moving a sofa up the stairs? You pick it up and go. Either you can lift it the required height for the necessary amount of time or you can't. Were you planning to lift it halfway, go to Chamblins for a cup of coffee, grab lunch, maybe hit Bed Bath and Beyond (if you have time), then come back and finish the job?

Ron: I'll be interested in renting when the time comes...

So a two bedroom then?  One for the kids?  lol.

ronchamblin

January 28, 2013, 01:30:00 PM
Quote from Stephen Dare:

"Ah.  sounds like youve a history of negative experience with partners. ron.   They arent for everyone.  And they certainly arent for some.

Perhaps you will find good luck with the Banks.  They seem to be in a generous mood."

Actually, I don't have negative experiences, but my imagination allows me to conjure up horrible possibilities with partnerships.  Knowing how people change, the divorces and tragedies possible, the descents into depressions, and the possible flights to wild heights of greed...... I would try all other things before I would engage a partner. 

Just as our single mind allows us humans to walk efficiently and successfully in only one direction at a time, and as a benevolent and wise dictator of a nation can efficiently make the best decisions for the citizens of his country, having the ideal of a single mind to make decisions for a business can best guarantee the absence of argument, the sole intent of business success, and the lack of inefficiencies due to non-action, when action should be.

But Stephen, I must admit.... sometimes the only way to do a project is with a partner, either because of the partner's money assets, or because the project could succeed only with the mental and creative abilities of the potential partner. 

PeeJayEss.... Sure.  I don't know who you are, but if you are still interested as we move along, get with me.



"Chuck Norris does not leave messages.  Chuck Norris leaves warnings."

taylormiller

January 28, 2013, 01:43:51 PM
peestandingup
Today at 08:37:14 AM
If it were me, I'd just move the mini-cafe part that's currently in Chamblin's & make it into a full fledged coffee shop/house in the new space. That's one thing downtown desperately needs IMO.

Ron, while the Bookmine does in fact already serve coffee, there has been a glaring hole in the options for coffee downtown. While retail options such as Starbucks have an appeal because of name recognition and a level of familiarity, most people downtown would prefer local businesses that are starting to emerge as local successes. For example, the growing popularity of Bold City and Intuition beers are being seen by more bars around town serving them on tap. In that spirit, just a thought, how about reaching out to a local group like Bold Bean and having a coffee bar there that serves Bold Bean coffee. Set it up as a cafe geared towards being a great place to read your books, and while you're at it, what if you worked out a contract with 3 Layer's and have them bring in certain coffee cakes and other light snacks. It satisfies a need to have a good coffee shop downtown for day to day needs, fosters an environment to bring even more traffic to the bookshop and fuses three great Jacksonville local favorites.

ronchamblin

January 28, 2013, 02:09:40 PM
peestandingup
Today at 08:37:14 AM
If it were me, I'd just move the mini-cafe part that's currently in Chamblin's & make it into a full fledged coffee shop/house in the new space. That's one thing downtown desperately needs IMO.

Ron, while the Bookmine does in fact already serve coffee, there has been a glaring hole in the options for coffee downtown. While retail options such as Starbucks have an appeal because of name recognition and a level of familiarity, most people downtown would prefer local businesses that are starting to emerge as local successes. For example, the growing popularity of Bold City and Intuition beers are being seen by more bars around town serving them on tap. In that spirit, just a thought, how about reaching out to a local group like Bold Bean and having a coffee bar there that serves Bold Bean coffee. Set it up as a cafe geared towards being a great place to read your books, and while you're at it, what if you worked out a contract with 3 Layer's and have them bring in certain coffee cakes and other light snacks. It satisfies a need to have a good coffee shop downtown for day to day needs, fosters an environment to bring even more traffic to the bookshop and fuses three great Jacksonville local favorites.

The weight of opinion has shifted back and forth between leaving the little coffee shop in the bookstore open and having a larger breakfast/lunch place next door, "or" closing the smaller bookstore cafe, and shifting all coffee/food assets to the larger place at the 225 street level location.  The latter decision would still allow us to keep the tables in the front of the bookstore, the table in the patio, and the tables on the sidewalk, with the added advantage of having more space for bookshelves. 

And yes, I agree about utilizing any excellent coffees and pastries produced locally.  I hope to use this new project to establish a level of quality which will guarantee a high volume of customers, which is the only way to really ensure the overall success of the renovation, including the ability to pay off any loans.


"Chuck Norris once visited the Virgin Islands.  Shortly thereafter, they were renamed The Islands."

JFman00

January 28, 2013, 02:29:45 PM
Ive done more than my fair share of renovations and rehabs in urban environments as well.  Four of them within a block of the building in fact.

I don't doubt that the building would be unpurchased, from the experience of everyone who ever tried to purchase the building from its former owners over the decades.

But there is another side of that coin as well, and that is the slow rot of a building left unused for years.  And perhaps a little discomfort with partners would be worth the money difference in renovating now vs ten years from now.

I am glad to hear that you have experience rehabbing apartments and residential units, it was something I didnt know.  Based on your experience with renting out apartments, what kind of residents are you going to appeal to in the upstairs apartments?

The Laura Street Facade Grant has been used by me so far to install new tile over the ugly concrete in the entrance and patio, plus the four new tables/umbrellas/chairs out front ($1,600 or so). The Thurston mural will be started within weeks. 
I might have a little left on the $10K grant money.  The Thurston mural takes the largest segment of it.  The use of facade money on the 225 building would be a little shaky, as it will be renovated soon.  I cannot think of a facade change we could do with the grant money, which would not be impacted or covered up by the renovation.

The use of other's money sounds inviting Stephen, but my fear of partnerships exceeds my desire for the assistance from anyone other than a bank.  As far as the residents to which I will appeal regarding the upper apartments..... ?? I'm simply going to build some nice layouts, offer moderate rents, and see what happens.  Given the central location, I expect good interest.  I have absolutely no experience renting out apartments.  It should be interesting.



"Water boils faster when Chuck Norris watches it."

Put in gas cooktops in the kitchens and watch the rental applications pour in. Not sure why gas is such anathema in this town.

stephendare

January 28, 2013, 02:48:32 PM
Well Im for anything that doesnt take ten years to do, Ron.

I think thats the most important thing.

And if you cant get bank financing and don't want to take partners, then what is your plan?

ronchamblin

January 28, 2013, 03:54:36 PM
Well Im for anything that doesnt take ten years to do, Ron.

I think thats the most important thing.

And if you cant get bank financing and don't want to take partners, then what is your plan?

Ten years?  I agree….. that’s too long.  That’s why I’m glad my project, once started, will take only around two years.  My 215 N. Laura Street project, the bookstore/café building, took me two years and four months from purchase to opening.  That time includes the six months in the beginning when I did almost nothing to the building.  Therefore, one could say that once started, the 215 building took me less than two years.

Not having the assets to do more than one semi-major project at a time, I have delayed starting the 225 project, and probably will not begin any work until April.  Therefore, if the two year duration for the project is realized, I will finish it in the spring of 2015.

Of course, the most important thing is not the objective of finishing a project within a set period.  The most important thing is to finish it.  The second most important thing is to finish it within a reasonable amount of time.  Two years is within reason in my view.

A bank loan?  Given my background of having paid every penny I’ve owed to all creditors for over fifty years, of never failing in a business, of consistently expanding in my current business for almost forty years while many others in the same business have failed….. I think any reasonable bank will seriously entertain a loan to me for the project.

Although I’ve suggested that the loan might be as high as $800,000, further thought allows me to say that two things will allow the loan to be less.  The first is that I will be able to do more of the preliminary work on the project myself, using my own money, than I had at first thought.  And secondly,  I anticipate selling my house so that I can contribute perhaps $200,000 additional to the project.  Therefore the loan might be as low as $400K to $500K.

In any case, thanks for the questions Stephen, but somehow, I am confident about the project.  My plan?  I have the same attitude as many people do about things like this…… which is simply that … “For many of us, no matter what some mediocrities or idiots place in front of us, we will force the son-of-a-bitch to completion.”   How or why?  Through the same process that allows many people to finish projects.  I can see within my mind the entire process of renovation, from beginning to end, with all the details.


Chuck Norris once ate an entire factory of sleeping pills.  They made him blink.     
   

Non-RedNeck Westsider

January 28, 2013, 04:17:48 PM
@Ron,

I've been following this thread all morning and will continue to follow the project as it moves ahead. 

I'm only commenting to give you kudos for the random Chuck Norris signatures, but it leaves me with only one question:

If Chuck Norris is such a badass, then why aren't there any Bruce Lee jokes? 






Bruce Lee is no fucking joke.    ;D

Looking forward to the rest of what follows.

kreger

January 28, 2013, 04:37:33 PM
I'm so stoked about this! Chamblins is awesome just as it is, with one exception...It's not always open when I think it's going to be. I'm sure you will do a great job next door. If you have good food, good hours, and wine and beer I think you will do very well. I truly believe that downtown restaurants would all do well if they worked together and kept similar hours i.e. everybody stayed open on Friday and Saturday nights. This means without fail. Adding more restaurants would also help, as people like options when going out for a meal. This is why Avondale works so well. It only takes a few failed attempts at grabbing a coffee early or a meal late downtown until you go elsewhere. The Urban Core has the strangest hours for these things, too much focus is placed on lunch only. I wish you all the best, and am looking forward to what you come up with.

P.S. I'd suggest something like The Grotto in San Marco.

TPC

January 28, 2013, 04:49:08 PM
I'm not a business owner but a few places that seem to do very well Down Town are Burrito Gallery, Indochine, and Dos Gatos to name a few.

The reason I feel these places do well is they offer great tasting unique items at good prices with great service. I know I'm being very general with these but if you hit those three points you should do well.

I think if you offered a great breakfast meals with fast service (Which isn't offered Downtown), a great lunch menu and had beer and wine available at night you could do quite well.

ronchamblin

January 28, 2013, 04:59:40 PM
Thanks NW Westsider, Kreger, and TPC for the input.  It's all good for digesting.

And for that.... some more Norris items:

"If Chuck Norris looks at you and even thinks about Jesus, you are immediately converted to Christianity."

"Bill Gates lives in constant fear that Chuck Norris's PC will crash."

"Chuck Norris's tears cure cancer.  Too bad he has never cried."

sandyshoes

January 28, 2013, 06:03:49 PM
Peejayass #34:  Wow...really?  Were you waiting around just to pounce on someone?  Glad I could provide that opportunity for you to show your ass.  One day when you are elderly and infirm, may you find out how difficult it would be to do things (like moving a sofa) all by yourself.  Karma is a scary thing. 

If_I_Loved_you

January 28, 2013, 08:35:38 PM
Peejayass #34:  Wow...really?  Were you waiting around just to pounce on someone?  Glad I could provide that opportunity for you to show your ass.  One day when you are elderly and infirm, may you find out how difficult it would be to do things (like moving a sofa) all by yourself.  Karma is a scary thing.
(Karma is a scary thing) How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.
- Wayne Dyer  ;)

Non-RedNeck Westsider

January 28, 2013, 08:45:17 PM
(Karma is a scary thing) How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.
- Wayne Dyer  ;)

"Yes, well that's very cute, but you're running this thread like a bunch of bullsh!t. ~ Dave Moss

(Yes.  There's a quote for everything, huh.)   ;)

If_I_Loved_you

January 28, 2013, 08:52:57 PM
(Karma is a scary thing) How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.
- Wayne Dyer  ;)

"Yes, well that's very cute, but you're running this thread like a bunch of bullsh!t. ~ Dave Moss

(Yes.  There's a quote for everything, huh.)   ;)
“The deadliest bullshit is odorless and transparent”

 William Gibson quotes (American writer of science fiction, b.1948)

stephendare

January 28, 2013, 08:58:40 PM
Well Im for anything that doesnt take ten years to do, Ron.

I think thats the most important thing.

And if you cant get bank financing and don't want to take partners, then what is your plan?

Ten years?  I agree….. that’s too long.  That’s why I’m glad my project, once started, will take only around two years.  My 215 N. Laura Street project, the bookstore/café building, took me two years and four months from purchase to opening.  That time includes the six months in the beginning when I did almost nothing to the building.  Therefore, one could say that once started, the 215 building took me less than two years.

Not having the assets to do more than one semi-major project at a time, I have delayed starting the 225 project, and probably will not begin any work until April.  Therefore, if the two year duration for the project is realized, I will finish it in the spring of 2015.

Of course, the most important thing is not the objective of finishing a project within a set period.  The most important thing is to finish it.  The second most important thing is to finish it within a reasonable amount of time.  Two years is within reason in my view.

A bank loan?  Given my background of having paid every penny I’ve owed to all creditors for over fifty years, of never failing in a business, of consistently expanding in my current business for almost forty years while many others in the same business have failed….. I think any reasonable bank will seriously entertain a loan to me for the project.

Although I’ve suggested that the loan might be as high as $800,000, further thought allows me to say that two things will allow the loan to be less.  The first is that I will be able to do more of the preliminary work on the project myself, using my own money, than I had at first thought.  And secondly,  I anticipate selling my house so that I can contribute perhaps $200,000 additional to the project.  Therefore the loan might be as low as $400K to $500K.

In any case, thanks for the questions Stephen, but somehow, I am confident about the project.  My plan?  I have the same attitude as many people do about things like this…… which is simply that … “For many of us, no matter what some mediocrities or idiots place in front of us, we will force the son-of-a-bitch to completion.”   How or why?  Through the same process that allows many people to finish projects.  I can see within my mind the entire process of renovation, from beginning to end, with all the details.


Chuck Norris once ate an entire factory of sleeping pills.  They made him blink.     
 

Well its probably important to the person doing the project to eventually finish I suppose.  The neighboring community may have different goals or timetables to get them excited.

I certainly hope that your building is both speedily completed and successful.  Im sure in a year or so, the eventual timetables will be more clear. :)

PeeJayEss

January 29, 2013, 10:56:21 AM
Peejayass #34:  Wow...really?  Were you waiting around just to pounce on someone?  Glad I could provide that opportunity for you to show your ass.  One day when you are elderly and infirm, may you find out how difficult it would be to do things (like moving a sofa) all by yourself.  Karma is a scary thing.

I had already posted in this thread, so I clearly was not waiting to pounce. I was simply illustrating that I thought your concern was unrealistic and likely not shared by others. There aren't many people that can move a sofa by themselves, whether infirm or not, never mind up a set of stairs. If I am elderly and infirm some day, and trying to move a sofa upstairs by myself, I sure do hope someone stops me. In fact, if I tried to do that now, I would hope someone coming down the steps would stop me (after questioning the sanity of my attempt).

Karma certainly is a scary thing to the superstitious. I guess it also doesn't take into account childish name-calling or delighting at karmic retribution.


Well its probably important to the person doing the project to eventually finish I suppose.  The neighboring community may have different goals or timetables to get them excited.

What neighboring community? The community has stared at the building while it dropped into disrepair for years, doing nothing with it and everything around it. Someone takes the risk and purchases it with the intent to improve it, and the progress is not fast enough? If that is the attitude of the "community," then who cares what they think?

Peejayass #34:  Wow...really?  Were you waiting around just to pounce on someone?  Glad I could provide that opportunity for you to show your ass.  One day when you are elderly and infirm, may you find out how difficult it would be to do things (like moving a sofa) all by yourself.  Karma is a scary thing.
(Karma is a scary thing) How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.
- Wayne Dyer  ;)

(Karma is a scary thing) How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.
- Wayne Dyer  ;)

"Yes, well that's very cute, but you're running this thread like a bunch of bullsh!t. ~ Dave Moss

(Yes.  There's a quote for everything, huh.)   ;)

(Karma is a scary thing) How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.
- Wayne Dyer  ;)

"Yes, well that's very cute, but you're running this thread like a bunch of bullsh!t. ~ Dave Moss

(Yes.  There's a quote for everything, huh.)   ;)
“The deadliest bullshit is odorless and transparent”

 William Gibson quotes (American writer of science fiction, b.1948)

"I don't know what we're yelling about!" - Brick Tamland

Non-RedNeck Westsider

January 29, 2013, 11:07:51 AM

Peejayass #34:  Wow...really?  Were you waiting around just to pounce on someone?  Glad I could provide that opportunity for you to show your ass.  One day when you are elderly and infirm, may you find out how difficult it would be to do things (like moving a sofa) all by yourself.  Karma is a scary thing.
(Karma is a scary thing) How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.
- Wayne Dyer  ;)

(Karma is a scary thing) How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.
- Wayne Dyer  ;)

"Yes, well that's very cute, but you're running this thread like a bunch of bullsh!t. ~ Dave Moss

(Yes.  There's a quote for everything, huh.)   ;)

(Karma is a scary thing) How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.
- Wayne Dyer  ;)

"Yes, well that's very cute, but you're running this thread like a bunch of bullsh!t. ~ Dave Moss

(Yes.  There's a quote for everything, huh.)   ;)
“The deadliest bullshit is odorless and transparent”

 William Gibson quotes (American writer of science fiction, b.1948)

"I don't know what we're yelling about!" - Brick Tamland

"Great Scott!" ~ Doc Brown

KPD

January 29, 2013, 11:16:40 AM
I agree with you and several of the others about keeping the cafe in the bookstore. For at least 3 years, my husband and I have thought that a restuarant on the ground floor with apartments upstairs would be perfect for this building (we went so far as to tour the building with a real estate agent and realized it was too big of an undertaking for us). Our inspiration came from an article in Dwell magazine about a building very similar to yours. The restaurant in the article has glass garage doors that can be opened when the weather is pleasant. I believe I still have that edition so I'll locate the info on the article for you and either forward the details RE that issue so you can locate it online or make a copy and drop it off at Chamblin's this week.

Tacachale

January 29, 2013, 08:10:58 PM
A restaurant would be great there, though I'm sure would be a lot of work and risk if you haven't run one before.

I'd really encourage you to consider things we couldn't get much of anywhere else in town. For example, Bold Bean took a pretty simple concept - a real coffee shop - and ran away with it, and turned it into something you can't get anywhere else in NE Florida. I'd love to see something that cool right next to the coolest bookstore in the state.

ronchamblin

January 29, 2013, 11:37:55 PM
You're right Tacachale, in that I'm not a restaurant person.  That's why, if I were to do a restaurant there, I would hire the right person to operate it, find the best inputs to arrive at the right type, style, ambiance, menus, layout etc.  I will of course, do my own research by visiting other restaurants, research books on layouts, invite ideas from all types of people with experience operating restaurants. 

The idea would be to arrive at the best kind for the area.  The good thing is that I have months to make decisions.  I realize that I will have to pay the "main person" who operates the restaurant a good salary, perhaps even a percentage of the net, in order to achieve and maintain the excellence I envision we must have in order to be successful in the long run. 

No matter what we do, we must not open a mediocre, poorly thought out operation.  Given the time we have, there is no excuse for failing to create a place that will be a success, and a big draw for the area.  I cannot except mediocrity under the circumstances.  The bottom floor will be gutted completely within months.  Seldom do operators have an opportunity to design the perfect layout, beginning with a gutted building.

So far, a unique restaurant is on the table, although a large coffee roaster operation is too, similar to Bold Bean.  However, the latter, in my opinion will not offer as much revenue as would a place offering a full breakfast, an excellent lunch menu, and later, a unique evening menu for the area.  Given the space available, we could of course, install a coffee roasting operation to the side.  However, if so, it must enhance the overall concept, whatever that ends up being.  The good thing is that we will be able to use the tables in the bookstore, the bookstore patio, and the those on the sidewalk, which is about 24 tables, along with the 15 to 20 tables inside the new operation.  I would like to see a baking operation within, giving an ability similar to the old Worman's.

There are so many options.  Let's hope that a few months will allow arrival at the best.     

 

stephendare

January 29, 2013, 11:42:37 PM
and less than ten years to implement.

ronchamblin

January 29, 2013, 11:53:47 PM
Where are you at right now Stephen, because I'm going to find you and kick your ass. ;D

Somehow, i feel like Chuck Norris tonight.

Ghosts are actually caused by Chuck Norris killing people faster than Death can process them.



stephendare

January 29, 2013, 11:56:50 PM
Where are you at right now Stephen, because I'm going to find you and kick your ass. ;D

Somehow, i feel like Chuck Norris tonight.

Ghosts are actually caused by Chuck Norris killing people faster than Death can process them.

That won't speed up the project at all.

And Im pretty sure they have treatment options available for people who think they are Chuck Norris.

ronchamblin

January 30, 2013, 12:01:12 AM
I agree with you and several of the others about keeping the cafe in the bookstore. For at least 3 years, my husband and I have thought that a restuarant on the ground floor with apartments upstairs would be perfect for this building (we went so far as to tour the building with a real estate agent and realized it was too big of an undertaking for us). Our inspiration came from an article in Dwell magazine about a building very similar to yours. The restaurant in the article has glass garage doors that can be opened when the weather is pleasant. I believe I still have that edition so I'll locate the info on the article for you and either forward the details RE that issue so you can locate it online or make a copy and drop it off at Chamblin's this week.

KPD.. the article should be interesting.  I too, think, at this point, that it is best to keep the current small coffee/veggie shop in the bookstore, as many people seem to like the "light" lunches, soups, bagels,etc.  And if we do install a baking ability next door, we can simply walk the fresh pastries and cake over to the coffee shop. 


"When God and Satan play a game of football, Chuck Norris is the field they play upon."

ronchamblin

January 30, 2013, 12:15:45 AM
Actually Stephen, the idea occured to me that you might like to do a consulting project, for pay of course, and somewhat informal, concerning the proposed restaurant next door.  If you thought you might, you could take a little time to think about it, as if it was your building, and your restaurant.  In other words, you could decide what "you" would do in my position.

This would be valuable to me, as, surely you've the experience, and being in the area longer than me, you could "feel" the enviroment and arrive, via gut input, at an opinion as to what type of operation would be best for the location.

Take some time to think about it; that is, if you would, for reasonable compensation, like to offer advice, and a concept, as if "you" were to proceed with it.


"Chuck Norris once ripped a man in half just to see what he had for lunch."     

stephendare

January 30, 2013, 12:22:30 AM
Actually Stephen, the idea occured to me that you might like to do a consulting project, for pay of course, and somewhat informal, concerning the proposed restaurant next door.  If you thought you might, you could take a little time to think about it, as if it was your building, and your restaurant.  In other words, you could decide what "you" would do in my position.

This would be valuable to me, as, surely you've the experience, and being in the area longer than me, you could "feel" the enviroment and arrive, via gut input, at an opinion as to what type of operation would be best for the location.

Take some time to think about it; that is, if you would, for reasonable compensation, like to offer advice, and a concept, as if "you" were to proceed with it.


"Chuck Norris once ripped a man in half just to see what he had for lunch."     

Thanks for the offer, Ron, but I made up my mind to stick with publishing for the time being.

The city is full of smart competent people though.  Im sure you will find someone.  Especially within your time frame. ;)

Pinky

January 30, 2013, 12:26:25 AM
Love the restaurant idea, although I'd ditch the in-store coffee counter and replace the in-store tables with couches and comfy reading stuff.  If folks want food they can run right next door and either bring food back or eat there.

ronchamblin

January 30, 2013, 12:35:21 AM
Actually Stephen, the idea occured to me that you might like to do a consulting project, for pay of course, and somewhat informal, concerning the proposed restaurant next door.  If you thought you might, you could take a little time to think about it, as if it was your building, and your restaurant.  In other words, you could decide what "you" would do in my position.

This would be valuable to me, as, surely you've the experience, and being in the area longer than me, you could "feel" the enviroment and arrive, via gut input, at an opinion as to what type of operation would be best for the location.

Take some time to think about it; that is, if you would, for reasonable compensation, like to offer advice, and a concept, as if "you" were to proceed with it.


"Chuck Norris once ripped a man in half just to see what he had for lunch."     

Thanks for the offer, Ron, but I made up my mind to stick with publishing for the time being.

The city is full of smart competent people though.  Im sure you will find someone.  Especially within your time frame. ;)

Well....... okay..... I was thinking of only $3,000 or $4,000 in any case..... just for informal input... a walk through... ideas etc.  But..... okay.... I'll look elsewhere.  Thanks for considering.

"Never use the phrase.... eat my heart out.... around Chuck Norris.  He will."


stephendare

January 30, 2013, 12:37:25 AM
Actually Stephen, the idea occured to me that you might like to do a consulting project, for pay of course, and somewhat informal, concerning the proposed restaurant next door.  If you thought you might, you could take a little time to think about it, as if it was your building, and your restaurant.  In other words, you could decide what "you" would do in my position.

This would be valuable to me, as, surely you've the experience, and being in the area longer than me, you could "feel" the enviroment and arrive, via gut input, at an opinion as to what type of operation would be best for the location.

Take some time to think about it; that is, if you would, for reasonable compensation, like to offer advice, and a concept, as if "you" were to proceed with it.


"Chuck Norris once ripped a man in half just to see what he had for lunch."     

Thanks for the offer, Ron, but I made up my mind to stick with publishing for the time being.

The city is full of smart competent people though.  Im sure you will find someone.  Especially within your time frame. ;)

Well....... okay..... I was thinking of only $3,000 or $4,000 in any case..... just for informal input... a walk through... ideas etc.  But..... okay.... I'll look elsewhere.  Thanks for considering.

"Never use the phrase.... eat my heart out.... around Chuck Norris.  He will."

no problem.  Good luck!

If you can't find anyone over the next couple of years let me know.  I can help you find someone!

ronchamblin

January 30, 2013, 12:57:28 AM
Love the restaurant idea, although I'd ditch the in-store coffee counter and replace the in-store tables with couches and comfy reading stuff.  If folks want food they can run right next door and either bring food back or eat there.



Thanks Pinky.  Occasionally someone will mention the soft chair idea.  This takes more room.  And, as you say, it could be accomplished if the smaller cafe was closed.  Still thinking about this option.  But....yes, the soft chairs would be an improvement.

PeeJayEss

January 30, 2013, 08:29:53 AM
If I was making a dream restaurant, I would just find the Chomp Chomp guys (Ian, Mark, John), throws as much money as I could afford at them, and try to corrupt them into doing Chomp Chomp on a larger scale, on the bottom floor of 225.

KPD

January 30, 2013, 10:33:20 AM
The issue of Dwell that I told you about yesterday is September 2009 and the article is called Hoagie's Heroes. This is the link: http://www.dwell.com/magazine/city-life. I hope this gives you some ideas!

Non-RedNeck Westsider

January 30, 2013, 04:49:43 PM
Like you and your project, Ron.

Because he can.

Painting Bruce Lee Using Kung Fu

ronchamblin

January 30, 2013, 10:03:19 PM
N-R Westsider  :).  KPD, the article in Dwell...... the building is very close in appearance to 225 Laura.  The article gave me some ideas about avoiding expensive modern materials and methods when  possible, keeping whenever practicle, any older aspects of the building intact.  On the sides, the brick goes back only about twenty feet or so, a process perhaps common in those days.  I suppose they figured.. when the buildings are so close, why worry about the appearance of the hidden sides.

The feedback and thoughts about the building cause me to become anxious to start the work.  Won't be long now. I must buy a dump-trailor for the cleanout and early demo, one with six-foot high sides, about 15 feet long.  The dumping ability allows one to simply drive to a county dump, such as Trail Ridge (?), the one just off 301, near Baldwin, and dump the stuff.  It takes much too long to unload a standard fixed trailer.  We will either build or buy some kind of chute, placing it between one of the windows and the trailer.  All kinds of "stuff" is in the building, and much to discard.  We will keep the cast iron tubs however, and hopefully use them in the apartments. 

Onward.


"Chuck Norris does not hunt because the word hunting implies the possibility of failure.  Chuch Norris goes killing." 

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