Alabama-based firm to redevelop the Ambassador Hotel

Birmingham-based Arbour Valley Development, is moving forward with plans to redevelop the long abandoned Ambassador Hotel into Jacksonville's latest urban residential apartment community. Today, Metro Jacksonville shares proposed renderings of the exciting project.

Published March 6, 2013 in Development -

Birmingham-based Arbour Valley Development, LLC. is the latest group to propose redeveloping the former Ambassador Hotel for residential apartment use.  Located at 420 Julia Street, the historic six story structure would house 80 to 57 residential units, a club room and fitness area.  In addition, a seventh floor would be added to the roof to serve as a clubhouse.

The Ambassador Hotel originally opened in 1924 as 310 West Church Street Apartments, the first upscale apartments in downtown Jacksonville. It was designed by Hentz, Reid and Adler, one of Atlanta's most prominent architectural firms. This $300,000, six-story brick and limestone Georgian Revival style building was built in an 'H' pattern that gives every room a large window view while still being able to house 50 apartments and about 110 residents.

In 1944, it was converted into a hotel and renamed the Three-Ten Hotel.  Over the next decade, the building saw little change besides the many short-lived names adorning the front and side. Only three years later, in 1947, the Three-Ten Hotel was renamed yet again to Hotel Southland only to be changed again in 1949 to The Griner Hotel.  On May 2, 1950, Senator George Smathers occupied a room at the Griner.  This was the night Smathers defeated Senator Claude Pepper for nomination to the United States Senate.  That would would live on to be known and marketed as the Senator George Smathers Suite.  In 1955, the Griner would be renamed to the Ambassador Hotel.

In 1983, it was added to the National Register of Historic Buildings, but it was already on a downward spiral of dilapidation, with code enforcement on the owners back and multiple drug busts and raids scarring its name. In 1998, the entire building was condemned and closed up. If Arbour Valley successfully pulls this project off, it will easily breath life back into what was once a bustling Julia Street corridor.

Both photographs on this page are courtesy of nomeus via

A visit to Arbour Valley's website indicates the firm has developed multifamily properties throughout Alabama and Florida.  However, it appears the redevelopment of the Ambassador Hotel would be their on of their first urban adaptive reuse projects.

On the Downtown Development Review Board (DDRB) March 7th agenda for conceptual review, DDRB staff recommends conceptual approval subject to the following conditions:

1. Prior to final approval, the applicant will show compliance with Sec.656.361.13 - Entrances, or receive a deviation to not provide an entrance on the Church Street frontage.

2. Prior to final approval, the applicant will provide complete design information for the
proposed clubhouse addition on the rooftop so as to comply with Sec. 656.361.15. – Rooftop
Design or receive a deviation from the development guidelines for an alternative design.

3. Prior to final approval, the applicant will provide complete parking design and layout so as to
comply with Sec.656.361.16. – Off-Street Parking Overlay or receive a deviation from
development guidelines for an alternative design.

4. Prior to final approval, the applicant will provide complete parking and trash, loading, and
screening for the adjacent surface parking lot so as to comply with Sec.656.361.17. –Surface
Parking, Trash, Storage and Loading Area Screening and Landscaping Requirements, or
receive a deviation from the guidelines for an alternative design.

5. Prior to final approval, the applicant to show compliance with the Streetscape Design
Standards so as to comply with Sec. 656.361.20. –Streetscape Design Standards, or receive a
deviation from the guidelines for an alternative design.
6. Prior to final approval, the applicant will obtain approval from the Jacksonville Historic
Preservation Commission.

Source: DDRB March 7, 2013 Agenda

Next Page: Ambassador Place presentation and proposed renderings

Next Page: Ambassador Place presentation and proposed renderings

The Downtown Development Review Board (DDRB) meeting will be held Thursday, March 7, 2013 - 2:30pm at City Hall (117 West Duval Street).

About Arbour Valley Development, LLC.

Arbour Valley Development, LLC was founded by principals with backgrounds in real estate acquisition, land development and syndication, single-family and multi-family construction, and mortgage banking and real estate finance. Our market-rate projects complement their communities with attractive amenities, spacious and original floor plans, and numerous features that set us apart from other residential complexes. And our affordable housing projects, designed to provide very attractive and comfortable housing with rental rate and income caps, allow local governments to attract a plentiful entry-level labor force, enabling city managers and economic development directors to bring businesses to their communities.

Our projects utilize state-of-the art best-practice construction techniques, are environmentally conscious, strive to maximize green space, and accentuate a “work-play” environment. Whether it is high-speed wireless internet provided community-wide, or central gazebos designed as community gathering points, or nine-foot vaulted ceilings and screened porches, an Arbour Valley Development project is designed with the resident, the community, and the environment in mind.

Most importantly, our residential developments are run by competent, personable managers who know the apartment business and make our residents feel like valued customers and neighbors rather than numbers.

An Arbour Valley Development residential development inspires pride in all of its partners: its owners and managers; its residents, and its communities.

For more information on Arbour Valley Development:

Update by Ennis Davis

This article can be found at:

Metro Jacksonville