Jacksonville University College of Law establishes permanent campus in iconic Downtown historic building

November 22, 2023

As the Jacksonville University College of Law completes the fall semester of its second academic year, it announced plans to move into its permanent space in the heart of Downtown Jacksonville at 121 W. Forsyth St., the historic former Atlantic Bank Building, in summer 2024.

The College of Law formally signed a long-term lease of more than 50,000 square feet on four contiguous floors of the building. The space will accommodate the growth of the law school and provide the opportunity to expand as it continues to welcome additional classes and hire more faculty and staff. The move to a larger, permanent space had been planned since well before the law school’s inception in 2022. It will continue to hold classes in its current campus in the VyStar Tower until the new space is completed. 

121 w forsyth street“We’re proud and energized to be able to move into this new space, even closer to the federal and county courthouses and City Hall,” said Randall C. Berg. Jr. Founding Dean Nick Allard. “It is a priority for us to maintain a presence and contribute to the city’s vibrant, growing urban core, and we look forward to being part of the rapid development of Downtown Jacksonville. Our location is ideal, especially for our students, who regularly make good use of the libraries and observe law in action in the county and federal courthouses. This keeps them embedded in the legal epicenter of the region with unparalleled access to these invaluable resources for learning.”

The new space will be completely renovated to include flexible, state-of-the-art classrooms, study and common areas, meeting spaces, faculty and staff offices, and library spaces. Auld & White Constructors is the contractor for the project. TTV Architects, a group with extensive experience in higher education projects and in historic renovation and adaptive reuse, along with nationally renowned law school design consultants, The Smith Group, will design the space. Christian Harden of NAI Hallmark brokered the lease deal and John Hodges of International Management Company was the key representative for the owner.

“This move to our new location is an important step for the University to establish our permanent home in the core of downtown. We are grateful for the continued extraordinary support of the legal community and the City of Jacksonville and we fully intend to return their investment with interest by activating an iconic historic building serving as an essential part of the legal ecosystem that brings much needed services to the community,” Allard added. 

The City is also continuing its support for the law school with a planned investment of $6.5 million in 2024 for the $12.5 million project, subject to approval by City Council.

“This is exactly the type of transformational project that Jacksonville needs in its Downtown revitalization goals – the economic vitality of hundreds of college students living and learning in the downtown core and the preservation of one of Jacksonville’s iconic historic buildings,” said Karen Bowling, Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Jacksonville.

The historic building at 121 W. Forsyth St., also known as 121 Atlantic Place, will be renamed for the Jacksonville University College of Law. The 10-story former home of Atlantic National Bank was the tallest building in Florida at the time it completed construction in 1909. Longtime tenant Jacksonville Transportation Authority once occupied the majority of the building but moved to its new location in 2020.

At full capacity, the Jacksonville University College of Law will bring hundreds of students, faculty, staff and legal scholars into the heart of Downtown Jacksonville every day, including evenings and weekends, for years to come.

“We knew we found the right partner with IMC, an established local firm with a shared vision of what this historic adaptive reuse could mean for Downtown,” said Jacksonville University College of Law Vice Dean Margaret Dees, who spearheaded the search for a new location.

“John Hodges and the IMC ownership worked diligently with us to get to this point and have been enthusiastic participants in the investment and hard work that will take place to create our campus.”

"It is an honor to be a part of this landmark deal establishing the Jacksonville University College of Law in our downtown historic 121 Atlantic Place building. As a locally owned and operated full-service commercial real estate firm, our team at IMC is dedicated to building lasting partnerships within the community. We’re proud to be a part of this milestone project underscored by JU’s ongoing commitment to our city,” said Brett McKee, Vice President, Property Services at International Management Company. 

Since classes began for the inaugural class in August 2022, the College of Law occupied the 18th floor of the VyStar Tower, a 15,000-square-foot space Jacksonville University began leasing in 2017 for graduate programs. Once the law school moves out next summer, Jacksonville University will no longer occupy the space.

 The College of Law welcomed its second class of 26 students in August. All 14 students from the inaugural class returned to their studies at the College of Law for their second year, following a summer gaining practical experience through internships and externships with the local legal community and judiciary. Recruitment for its third class, which will begin their studies in the newly renovated building, is underway.

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