Last week, a building permit application was filed by Fort Lauderdale-based Mainstreet CV76 S Laura Street LLC. with the Downtown Investment Authority (DIA) to begin construction on a nine-story Hyatt Place Hotel across the street from the Jacksonville Landing. Situated on a 0.27-acre site at the intersection of Independent Drive and Hogan Street, the 128-guest room hotel may be one of downtown’s most interesting projects in recent years, being that it is the direct result of public engagement on the conceptual planning process.

The original design for the parking garage along Hogan Street would have added a road circling the structure, leaving no room for street level retail.

The timeline for the Hyatt Place project actually dates back to 2012 when Parador Partners LLC. first attempted to move forward with the development of a parking garage adjacent to the SunTrust Tower. Designed by Haskell, the original Parador Partners parking garage would not have accommodated ground level retail spaces despite being located directly across the street from the Jacksonville Landing. Several excuses were made to the Downtown Development Review Board (DDRB) why the project could not support retail in the design, including a lack of market support and the developer’s desire to avoid the cost of adding sprinklers to the project as a part of the fire safety design, despite receiving $3.5 million in incentives from the city. Submitted to the DDRB for conceptual review in June 2012, the original design encountered heavy public opposition for its lack of street level retail and creativity for a garage proposed on one of downtown Jacksonville’s most desirable sites. This led to the concept being rejected by the DDRB and a workshop being scheduled to assist in the development of alternative design concepts.

This June 13, 2012 sketch by Modern Cities’ Ennis Davis was created to illustrate how the garage could be set back from the street in order to accommodate future retail.

Fearing that a garage being built on the block alone would establish a dead pedestrian zone in the heart of the city for the next century, an alternative concept based off the site design and development strategy for a garage in Greenville, South Carolina was created and offered up to the DDRB and design team. In Greenville, the Spring Street Garage was constructed in the middle of a block, opening space along the sidewalk for infill development at a future date. Considered a compromise, this solution was intended to preserve space for infill retail opportunities, while also maintaining the financial feasibility of the parking garage project.

Revised plans that accommodated space for future street level retail.

Revised plans submitted to the DDRB for conceptual design review by Parador and Haskell’s design team in September 2012, included this slight modification in the garage concept, opening an array of future infill opportunities in the heart of downtown without increasing costs to the developer. In February 2017, Jack Shad and Modern Cities’ Mike Field opened downtown’s first food truck court on the space created for future retail along Hogan Street. This unique, outdoor food court, activated the space created for future retail along Hogan Street into an affordable culinary destination. Along with The Court Urban Food Park, Fort Lauderdale-based Mainstreet CV 76 S Laura Street LLC’s intentions of adding a Hyatt Place Hotel have solidified the vision expressed by the public seven years ago by stimulating foot traffic in a previously underutilized space in the heart of the central business district.

The hotel tower’s ground level will consist of a lobby lounge facing Independent Drive with meeting and dining space along Hogan Street and at the intersection of Independent Drive, Hogan and Water Streets. A mezzanine level above the lobby will contain hotel offices, electrical and maintenance space. The second level will feature a fitness center, pool and 14 hotel guest rooms. The hotel’s remaining 114 guest rooms will be located on levels three through eight. A rooftop patio and event space will be included as well. In addition, the project will take advantage of existing on-street parking along Hogan Street and spaces in the existing adjacent VyStar Tower parking garage. As a result of a simple conceptual planning design modification made six years ago, this block of Hogan Street is well on its way to becoming one of the Northbank’s most interesting and active destinations. Construction on the project is expected to take 18 months.

Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at