As cities age, they must figure out what to do with historic buildings that have outlived their original purpose.
For many years, Jacksonville’s most common solution to this dilemma was to just demolish the buildings. It’s why there are so many surface parking lots and parking garages downtown, and why LaVilla is full of empty lots rather than the historic buildings that once sat there.
But increasingly, over the past few decades, local historic properties have begun to receive the respect they deserve. Adaptive reuse projects – that is, projects wherein an existing building is repurposed after losing its original tenant – have sprung up across the city, from downtown to San Marco to Springfield and beyond.
These are just a few of the prime examples of what can happen when a developer is willing to put in the time, money, and patience required for an adaptive reuse project.
Before the Klempf family purchased the property, the old Bostwick Building was close to falling apart.
The building, designed by J.H.W. Hawkins, was built in 1902 to house a bank. It cycled through a series of bank tenants before being taken over by William Bostwick, Jr., who had served as an executive at one of those banks. Bostwick turned it into an office building, which it operated as for several decades, but by the ‘80s the building was all but abandoned.
Almost nothing was done to maintain the building, which sustained roof damage and subsequent water intrusion that essentially ruined the interior. The Bostwick family tried to get the city to let them tear it down in 2012; the city instead declared the building a historic property and foreclosed on the Bostwicks.
Local restaurateur Jacques Klempf bought the building via city auction for $165,000 with plans to turn it into an upscale restaurant – but doing so would be no easy task.
The interior of the building had to be gutted, with its walls being propped up throughout much of the construction process as contractors built the interior from scratch. The $6 million construction effort was led by Danis Construction.
The result was an elegant, upscale steakhouse crafted out of the rotted remains of what was once one of downtown’s biggest eyesores.