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New push to pump life into Ambassador Hotel

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Updated: 5/02/2013 9:26 pm

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- One of our area's oldest buildings could bring new life to downtown.

The Ambassador Hotel has been an eyesore for years, but now there's a new plan to renovate the historic hotel.

It opened in 1924 as the first high-end apartments in downtown Jacksonville.

While it's on the list of National Register of Historic Buildings, the historic hotel has been down an ugly path of ruins.

These days, it's boarded up and trash litters the outside of the building.

"We're trying to restore it to basically refurbish it, restore it to its old grandeur," said Sam Johnston with Arbour Valley Developments.

One of the project's architects gave Action News a firstlook at the plan to transform the former beauty into an energy-efficient, 57-unit apartment complex.

Plans also calls for a renovated rooftop courtyard.

"It's an amenity for the development once we get it refurbished," said Johnston. "We'll have tenants move in and have an outstanding amenity to retain them there, to make it unique so they enjoy the outdoors."

Johnston's team presented the plan to the city's Downtown Development Review Board on Thursday.

It's a job estimated to cost $12 million. City leaders hope it'll increase the value of not only the building but also a struggling urban core.

"To me, it would continue the momentum of everything the city wants to do. It's an additional step in refurbishing downtown."

Once renovations are complete, the city of Jacksonville and Arbour Valley hope it will attract more young professionals to downtown.

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