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DIA has more tricks up its sleeve to boost downtown business

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Updated: 11/26/2013 5:01 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The view from the top of the River City is impeccable and apparently profitable, too.

Local developer Mike Langton, has chosen the Old Republic Title building downtown as the canvas for that vision.

"I want to restore it to a ground-floor restaurant, offices on the second floor and hopefully a rooftop bar on the roof," said Langton.

The Downtown Investment Authority (DIA) is ironing out a plan that would bring business downtown. On its agenda is updated signage and lighting, building better roads and widening existing ones, and what's called the retail enhancement program.

The program would help property owners get tenants into vacant buildings faster and without having to pay for all of the improvement costs. Langton is one of several developers interested in it.

"It would be an inducement to say, 'I'm not alone on this. The developer is taking a risk, I'm taking a risk, and the city is going to partner with me,'" he said.

Revamping the old vacant building won't come cheap. Langton says more than $2 million will cover the purchase of the structure, renovation and restaurant build-out. With the city's help, he says, it will be worth it.

The DIA is still finalizing its plans but once it's ready, Langton is likely first on the list to receive that grant.
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