Author Topic: Ruins of Jacksonville: The Ambassador Hotel  (Read 32394 times)

GENTRY

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Re: Ruins of Jacksonville: The Ambassador Hotel
« Reply #60 on: November 16, 2009, 04:31:15 PM »
Injecting emotion is actually the best way to get a difficult thing done. That does not mean ignore facts.

We'd like to believe that emotion is the best thing but in business it is rarely involved. The city doesn't use emotion when it makes it's decision. The contractor does not use emotion when bidding on a project. It's all facts and figures.

jason_contentdg

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Re: Ruins of Jacksonville: The Ambassador Hotel
« Reply #61 on: November 16, 2009, 04:32:19 PM »
Gentry, this is what everyone is telling you...signs have gone up on buildings stating they have been condemned, and then some of those same signs have come down after renovation.  I'm not sure why you're arguing this point?

Ocklawaha

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Re: Ruins of Jacksonville: The Ambassador Hotel
« Reply #62 on: November 16, 2009, 04:36:13 PM »

Sorry but I'm not ranting. Look up the definition. Unlike you I'm not making emotional attacks. I'm just stating facts as an intelligent person would.

1. Sorry you are wrong. This zone (not district) in Jacksonville has the worst crime rate in the city as ranked by Forbes magazine. Where are your facts coming from? Sorry the two cities don't compare.

Uh, yeah, Gentry? Hello. The recent Forbes article that listed a certain "zone" in the LaVilla and Brooklyn, neighborhoods, as among the nations most "deadly," was completely a fabrication from "God knows where..."  I'm not taking sides here, just want to correct a fact, that they carried a story on deadly neighborhoods, and wrote about a "neighborhood" without neighbors!

LaVilla and Brooklyn, as residential "hoods", would have a hard time filling the seats on a JTA bus today. Thanks largely to bulldozier mentality of the "Emperors at City Hall, and the boy prince." Yes, the city has been run like a business, albeit one that smacks of stagecoaches, telegraph, and cerebral clipper ships. Several of us have hiked all over this deadly turf, even UNDER IT, and we've yet to see anything approaching the scary crap we've all seen in Arlington, Mandarin, or Orange Park.


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GENTRY

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Re: Ruins of Jacksonville: The Ambassador Hotel
« Reply #63 on: November 16, 2009, 04:44:21 PM »
Well other than your brief stay over a two decades ago, what particular aspect of the renovation would you say, in your professional opinion, is unrenovateable?

The structural supports?

The electrical systems?

The plumbing?

The supercalifragilisticexpyalladociousness?

You just stated several of the defining reasons why the renovation will not happen. This building would cost far too much to retrofit all that is damaged and or not up to today's code. Any contractor who would take on this project would either go broke, bow out or would be receiving some serious financial support from the city. This building would be too costly. Take your pick.

BTW. This is the correct spelling. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

ac

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Re: Ruins of Jacksonville: The Ambassador Hotel
« Reply #64 on: November 16, 2009, 04:46:51 PM »
Let's just temporarily assume, for sake of argument, that The Ambassador truly cannot be saved.

Were we living in a city that hadn't already razed block after block of viable buildings in the name of progress that never materialized, would there be this much debate over one building?  Probably not; but this is the reality of our past and present lack of forethought and respect for these abandoned buildings.

That said, time will tell on this one.


vicupstate

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Re: Ruins of Jacksonville: The Ambassador Hotel
« Reply #65 on: November 16, 2009, 04:54:58 PM »
Gentry, exactly what are your credentials to make your assessment?  Are you a structural engineer, architect, contractor, what exactly?

Both the Carling and 11E. received city subsidies.  Is your argument that the Ambassador cannot be renovated because of a lack of structural integrity, or because the numbers wouldn't work from a economic standpoint?    If it is the later, a subsidy for this building could eliminate that.  Granted, the city is strapped for funds currently.   
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jason_contentdg

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Re: Ruins of Jacksonville: The Ambassador Hotel
« Reply #66 on: November 16, 2009, 04:58:05 PM »
13 years of downtown living?

Dan B

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Re: Ruins of Jacksonville: The Ambassador Hotel
« Reply #67 on: November 16, 2009, 05:02:41 PM »
The Building that now houses the Pearl was in dreadful condition when TSI first took it over. I was in there when the old liquor store/bar was in there before the Pearl, and the second floor was sitting wide open, with about 3 dozen pigeons living there. I thought for sure the building was doomed, and now it looks great.

thelakelander

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Re: Ruins of Jacksonville: The Ambassador Hotel
« Reply #68 on: November 16, 2009, 05:19:19 PM »
You guys should have seen the Book-Cadillac Hotel in Detroit before it was restored last year.  It had been vacant since 1986 before a $200 million restoration project into a Westin Hotel

Before


After




Quote
Legendary style and glamour has returned to Detroit. Following a $200 million renovation, the historic Book Cadillac Hotel has been restored to its original splendor to reclaim  its position as Detroit’s premier lodging and social gathering destination. The luxury hotel also features more than 60 residences on the upper floors and some of the Midwest’s most dramatic public event spaces.
 
Now included in the National Register of Historic Places, the Italian Renaissance–style hotel, built by Detroit’s famous Book brothers, was the tallest building in Detroit and the tallest hotel in the world at its completion in 1924.

http://www.bookcadillacwestin.com/
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Joe

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Re: Ruins of Jacksonville: The Ambassador Hotel
« Reply #69 on: November 16, 2009, 05:20:16 PM »
Um ... let me just add to the chorus here ... condemned buildings can be renovated. It happens all the time. I've been inside several condemned buildings in Jax which have since been restored. I don't know really know what else to say.

On the issue of structural soundness - yes, if the building were structurally unsound, it would probably be prohibitively expensive to restore. That's a big if. I have no idea one way or another.

As bleak as the pictures appear, I have to say that they aren't that bad. I've seen way worse. Most of the fixtures, HVAC, plumbing, etc would be torn out no matter what. The nastiest stuff would be torn out with the interior demolition, and (if it's structurally sound) you're going to be left with a fairly blank slate like most other old renovations. The scariest thing for me was seeing the mold. That could be a much more difficult issue than peeling plaster, bombed out kitchens, and outdated electrical.

Ocklawaha

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Re: Ruins of Jacksonville: The Ambassador Hotel
« Reply #70 on: November 16, 2009, 05:28:40 PM »
This is really funny, if old and condemned = beyond repair, someone needs to tell St. Augustine, Kingsley Plantation etc all about it. There is a similar basket case study, y'all check out the haunted and abandoned "SKIRVIN HOTEL" in OKLAHOMA CITY. Of course this takes a school of advanced urban thinking, something I'm afraid OKLAHOMA, has, and JACKSONVILLE, can't even define.







http://www.dreadcentral.com/story/the-skirvin-hotel
http://www.okc.gov/projects/Skirvin.html
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4182/is_20030310/ai_n10157162/

OCKLAWAHA

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Re: Ruins of Jacksonville: The Ambassador Hotel
« Reply #71 on: November 16, 2009, 05:30:43 PM »
A condemned building certainly can be renovated. There are examples all around the city.

Ask yourself. Do you know that the buildings you have seen renovated were condemned? Or did they simply look like they should be condemned? Big difference. So many buildings survive because some group, company or individual saves it before the city labels them.

Yes,  They were condemned and had the official orange death certificate on them.  My very own house was one of them.  It's been completely renovated.  

I'm amazed you continue to argue this point.  A condemned building can be renovated. PERIOD.

thelakelander

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Re: Ruins of Jacksonville: The Ambassador Hotel
« Reply #72 on: November 16, 2009, 05:31:11 PM »
Gentry, there is a "sucker" who believes the building can be saved.  I guess we'll have to see how it turns out.

Quote
Historic downtown hotel eyed for renovation

The Ambassador, born 85 years ago, is eyed for "high-end" living.

By Kevin Turner Story updated at 5:43 AM on Friday, Jul. 17, 2009

In the first half of the 20th century, downtown Jacksonville was replete with hotels, from the majestic and lavish to the utilitarian and spartan.

They had names like the St. George, the Jefferson, the Floridian, the Aragon, the Rollins, the George Washington, the Windsor, the Seminole, the Mayflower, the Carling, the Robert Meyer and the Ambassador.

Most have long since been demolished to be replaced by other buildings or parking lots, and only a few examples of their solid, gracious architectural styles stand today. The Carling on Adams Street is living a second life as an apartment building and the St. George on Duval Street houses Jacksonville city offices.

But the Ambassador, which has stood vacant at the corner of Church and Julia streets since closing its doors in 1998, is next on the list for a second chance.

Lamonte Carter, director of Oasis Venture Group, has been quietly working in recent years on a plan for the historic building’s rebirth as Ambassador Lofts apartments, and seeks to restore its glory days in modernizing its interior while rebuilding its 80 hotel rooms into 50 residential units, converting 10,000 square feet of commercial space on its ground floor.

The units will be “high end,” he said, but also will be affordable for middle class tenants, Carter said. Because the building is historic at 85 years old, its exterior won’t be changed, he said.

Carter said he first saw the Ambassador when he happened to park in front of it on Julia Street while hurrying to make an appointment about four years ago. The vacant building immediately caught his eye and his imagination, he said.

“I was rushing,” he said. “I saw the building, and I just paused a bit.”

He asked owner Sam Easton about it and since has been working on a dream of buying and restoring it. He said he’ll fund the estimated $8 million project with about half in private equity funds and half in city, state and federal grants and low-interest loans earmarked for low-income workforce housing and historic renovation. He hasn’t yet purchased the building and declined to discuss its price. It’s listed on the Duval County Property Appraiser’s Web site as having $1.8 million in market value.

Easton had a plan to renovate the whole block, with a new office building and parking garage near the hotel. Carter said he’s working along the lines of that plan, which was shelved when work on the nearby Duval County Courthouse stalled five years ago. Carter said he seeks to work with Easton in the future to fulfill the vision for the block, but he’s focusing all of his attention on the Ambassador first.

“I see the Ambassador as being the anchor” for the block, he said.

The six-story, H-shaped, Georgian Revival Ambassador first opened in 1924 as a swank apartment building called 310 West Church Street Apartments, according to Florida Times-Union archives. Its 21st century renaming wouldn’t be the first. It was renamed the Three-Ten Hotel in 1944, the Hotel Southland in 1947, the Griner in 1949 and finally Ambassador in 1955.

In 1983, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places, but that didn’t slow its business decline. Sometime between 1955 and the late 1990s, the hotel slid from serving high-end hotel guests to renting by the week as a rooming house, and, like much of the downtown around it, into a reputation for seediness.

Carter said he hopes to have the purchase of the building closed within the next two months and to start the interior demolition that will clear the way for construction immediately afterward. Once construction begins, it will take about a year to finish, he said.

Emerson Brantley, president of Web3Direct, and consultant to Oasis and Tennessee-based City Capital, said the search is on to find tenants for the building’s commercial space that he says will serve increased area foot traffic when the new county courthouse begins operation.

“The courthouse is going to end up moving a lot of interest away from the river,” Brantley said. “I think it will open all sorts of opportunities for people, and having housing there will also be of benefit.”

The project now has complete architectural designs for its interior space and backers are in discussions with prospective contractors.

“We’re pulling together all of those resources that hopefully will create a new shining star in downtown Jacksonville,” Brantley said.

The effort to meet anticipated demand for residential and commercial space near the new courthouse doesn’t appear to have yet taken hold anywhere else in the area, however, Joe Whitaker, Business Recruitment and Retention Coordinator for the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission said.

“The city does own a small building at 324 North Broad that’s vacant, but we’ve RFPed [advertised for sale] that building twice and never got offers that were equal to the appraised value,” Whitaker said. “We’re hanging onto it in hopes that the courthouse value will allow us to get at least appraised value.”

http://jacksonville.com/business/2009-07-16/story/historic_downtown_hotel_eyed_for_renovation
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GENTRY

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Re: Ruins of Jacksonville: The Ambassador Hotel
« Reply #73 on: November 16, 2009, 05:53:59 PM »
Okay all. I'm simply stating facts from someone in the know. I'm not being emotional about this because it is a business matter not one that should affect any of us personally. Believe me when I say it doesn't matter to the city or contractors one way or the other. Far too many decisions are reached by those with greased palms. That is why this topic is debatable at all.

1. Yes I have lived downtown for over 13 years and worked here many more.
2. Yes I know condemned signs go up and come down.
3. Yes many projects receive government subsidies and grants (that's why contractors hover like flies).
4. Yes I would like to see the Ambassador Hotel renovated but it is my belief (just mine) that the principals involved know that this project would be a wash. Refer back to number 3.
5. Yes many of the projects you all listed were feasible. 99% in the city have been what are known as low rise renovations. They don't pose the same problems high rise buildings do.
6. Yes other medium/high and rises have been renovated but not all are built alike nor do they age alike. Case in point. The "modern" six-story Berkman Plaza 2 garage. Not all things are created equal.

It will eventually come to light that this is not a doable project. There are at least 6 other medium/high rise buildings that are as historical, need far less retrofitting, thus costing us, the tax payer, less.

Just because a contractor tells his principal(s), who tells our elected officials, it's doable doesn't mean it's best for us in the long run.

billy

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Re: Ruins of Jacksonville: The Ambassador Hotel
« Reply #74 on: November 16, 2009, 06:15:43 PM »
What are your top 5/6 candidates for renovation?