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Author Topic: 225 Laura Street: A Downtown Core Renovation Project  (Read 5847 times)

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225 Laura Street: A Downtown Core Renovation Project
« on: January 28, 2013, 03:00:26 AM »
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.


Full Article
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2013-jan-225-laura-street-a-downtown-core-renovation-project-

DDC

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Re: 225 Laura Street: A Downtown Core Renovation Project
« Reply #1 on: 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.
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Mr. Charleston

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Re: 225 Laura Street: A Downtown Core Renovation Project
« Reply #2 on: 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

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Re: 225 Laura Street: A Downtown Core Renovation Project
« Reply #3 on: 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

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Re: 225 Laura Street: A Downtown Core Renovation Project
« Reply #4 on: 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

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Re: 225 Laura Street: A Downtown Core Renovation Project
« Reply #5 on: 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.
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ronchamblin

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Re: 225 Laura Street: A Downtown Core Renovation Project
« Reply #6 on: 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

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Re: 225 Laura Street: A Downtown Core Renovation Project
« Reply #7 on: 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

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Re: 225 Laura Street: A Downtown Core Renovation Project
« Reply #8 on: 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

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Re: 225 Laura Street: A Downtown Core Renovation Project
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2013, 08:57:26 AM »
Firearms and ammunition store.

#WINNING!

ronchamblin

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Re: 225 Laura Street: A Downtown Core Renovation Project
« Reply #10 on: 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

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Re: 225 Laura Street: A Downtown Core Renovation Project
« Reply #11 on: 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?
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ronchamblin

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Re: 225 Laura Street: A Downtown Core Renovation Project
« Reply #12 on: 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

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Re: 225 Laura Street: A Downtown Core Renovation Project
« Reply #13 on: 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

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Re: 225 Laura Street: A Downtown Core Renovation Project
« Reply #14 on: 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.