Completed in 1987 on the site of a former Sear’s department store, along with the Jacksonville Landing, the 16-story Omni Jacksonville Hotel was a part of a plan to transform the Downtown Northbank riverfront into Florida’s version of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. 32 years later, with its neighbor recently razed into a human-less grass lawn and no events currently being held at the nearby Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts, Omni Hotels & Resorts is considering ridding itself of its Downtown Jacksonville location.
According to a recent Travel Weekly article, Omni Hotels & Resorts is weighing a potential sale of five of its U.S. properties: the Omni Jacksonville Hotel in Florida and the Omni Dallas Hotel at Park West, Omni Austin Hotel at Southpark, Omni San Antonio Hotel at the Colonnade and Omni Houston Hotel at Westside in Texas.
Located at 245 Water Street, the full service hotel features 354 guest rooms, a rooftop pool, Juliette’s Bistro, JBar, and 14,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 6,952 square foot grand ballroom.
Proceeds from the potential sale of Omni Jacksonville and other assets that no longer align with the direction on their brand would be put toward reinvesting capital into the convention center and resort market space. According to Omni Hotels & Resorts president Peter Strebel, “The hospitality industry was impacted immensely by the pandemic and as we emerge from this crisis, we must be forward thinking about our brand strategies and portfolio offerings.”
Removing Downtown Jacksonville from its portfolio does not necessarily mean Omni Hotels & Resorts is not in the midst of an expansion mode. Recent investments include convention-focused properties in Fort Worth, Dallas, Nashville and Louisville. Omni also plans to open additional properties in Minnesota, Oklahoma City, Boston and Frisco, Texas. Omni also continues to operate a 404 guest room oceanfront resort on Amelia Island, in Nassau County.
Omni Hotels & Resorts pending departure could pave the way for another hotel chain to enter or expand in the Downtown Jacksonville hotel market. In June, Marriott, the world’s third largest hotel chain, made local news by entering the Downtown Jacksonville hotel market through the rebranding of the Southbank’s Lexington Hotel & Conference Center Jacksonville Riverwalk into a Delta Hotels by Marriott.
A change in ownership could also present the Downtown Investment Authority (DIA) with an opportunity modify the Omni’s pedestrian hostile ground floor into a more inviting space that activates the pedestrian realm surrounding the building by better exposing the existing restaurant, bar and retail spaces inside of the building. Such a project would fall in line with the goals of a new Storefront Facade Grant program recently created by the DIA to support renovations of street-facing facades on downtown buildings.
Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Photographs by Mike Field. Contact Ennis at email@example.com