Editor’s Note: The proposed adaptive reuse of the Laura Street Trio into a Courtyard by Marriott could result in as many as four Marriott brands operating in Downtown Jacksonville.
Founded in 1927 as a root beer stand in Washington, D.C. by John Willard Marriott, the first Marriott hotel opened in Arlington, Virginia in 1957. A Fortune 500 company, there are more than 6,900 locations operating as 30 brands internationally. Now the world’s third largest hotel chain is headed to a historic site in Downtown Jacksonville. In June, the Lexington Hotel & Conference Center Jacksonville Riverwalk will be rebranded into a Delta Hotels by Marriott.
A four-star brand acquired by Marriott in 2015, Delta was established in 1962 by William Pattison in British Columbia. Now a wholly owned Marriott brand and included in the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program, there were 27 Delta properties in the U.S. as of June 2018.
Located on the Southbank at 1515 Prudential Drive, the five-floor hotel features 305 rooms, 17 suites and nearly 40,000 square feet of meeting space. Pier 1515, Southbank Johnnies and Chart House are restaurants and lounges that anchor the property. The hotel also includes three restaurants. Chart House, an upscale seafood and steak restaurant, an atrium lobby lounge featuring the longest happy hour in town called Southbank Johnnies, and a traditional American restaurant called Pier 1515.
According to a recent report by the Jacksonville Business Journal, the hotel’s owner Red Lion Hotels, will be discontinuing the Lexington brand over the next few years. Although a $30 million renovation project was completed in 2017, additional renovations to the property will be made and completed by early 2021.
Acquired by the Vantage Hospitality Group, Inc. of Coral Springs for $9 million in 2015, the property opened as a Sheraton Hotel in 1982, as a part of a mixed-use project also anchored by Chart House and Crawdaddy’s Restaurant. Replacing the Gibbs Corporation shipyards, the development was a major part of Mayor Jake Godbold’s billion dollar decade for downtown revitalization.
A photograph of Crawdaddy’s Restaurant by Deborah Thomas on August 24, 1984. Courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, https://floridamemory.com/items/show/112827
Gibbs was founded by Zephaniah Kingsley descendant George Williams Gibbs in 1908. A pioneer shipbuilder, Gibbs created an engine that used half the fuel of other engines of the day and began building ship hulls on reclaimed swamp along the Southbank riverfront. By World War I, the shipyard had grown to become a major employer building 16 Sub Chasers for the U.S. Navy. Prior to the construction of the Main Street Bridge in 1941, he also operated a ferry between Downtown and the City of South Jacksonville.
A view of the Gibbs Corporation in 1911. Courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory