A look inside Jacksonville's historic Laura Street Trio

A property containing a few of Florida's oldest abanonded skyscrapers is on its way to finally being brought back to life. With this in mind, Bullet of Abandoned Florida takes an inside look at Jacksonville's Laura Trio while Ennis Davis, AICP of Modern Cities provides the background narrative.

(State Archives of Florida and MetroJacksonville.com)

The Marble Bank, Bisbee and Florida Life Buildings, also known as the Laura Trio, could very well be downtown Jacksonville’s most historically significant landmarks. Long abandoned, blighted, and in the heart of the Northbank, these structures were on the cutting edge of architectural innovation when they were completed over a century ago. Many downtown advocates, as well as city officials and civic leaders, believe the restoration of the rapidly deteriorating Laura Trio are critical to the future of downtown Jacksonville.

(Library of Congress)

In May 2010, Jacksonville developer Steve Akins, managing principal of SouthEast Development Group, unveiled plans to bring apartments, hotel rooms, restaurants and shops to the Laura Street Trio and adjacent Barnett Bank Building at an estimated cost of $70 million. After several years of delay, SouthEast has entered into a partnership with Las Vegas-based The Molasky Group, to convert the Laura Street Trio into a 131-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel, restaurant, rooftop bar and retail space. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the buildings will be renovated to maintain the detail of the original structures with appropriate updates through contemporary construction and design.

(SouthEast Development Group)

Costs for the restoration of the historic properties is anticipated to cost $44 million. In addition, the project will include the construction of a 550-space, $11 million parking garage with 12,000 square feet of street level retail space. The garage will be located on the south side of West Forsyth Street between Laura and Main Streets. Pending City Council approval of a $9.8 million incentive packet this spring, construction of the parking garage would be completed by mid-2018, the Barnett in fall 2018 and the Laura Trio by winter 2020.

Click on the links below for a brief look into the history of each building and a rare photographic tour inside their walls.

Inside the Marble Bank Building

Inside the Bisbee Building

Inside the Florida Life Building

Photographs courtesy of Bullet at Abandoned Florida

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Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at edavis@moderncities.com

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