Bostwick building designated city landmark

Historic building's owners face fines, can't find buyer, can't tear it down

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The 111-year-old building at the corner of Ocean and Bay streets known to most as the Jaguars building for its murals of the big cats in its boarded up windows was designated a city landmark on Tuesday by the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission.

The action was opposed by the family that owns the Bostwick building because they face a $100-per-day fine for its deteriorated condition, but are prevented from tearing it down. The designation must be formalized by a vote of City Council.

SLIDESHOW:  Inside the Bostwick building

The Bostwick family, which has owned the building for more than a century, has been trying to find an owner. They are asking $325,000, but Van Bostwick estimates it would cost more than $1 million to renovate the building and bring it up to code.

"There are a number of problems with it. There's a structural problem with the building, and, of course, we've got the ongoing fine," Bostwick told Channel 4's Jason Law last week.

A request for a demolition permit was denied.

Jacksonville's historic planner, Joel McEachin, admits Bostwick is in a tough spot as the fines add up on the building that could became a historic landmark.

"He's doing what he can do, and that's seek the City  Council to overturn the committee's action," McEachin said. "I do know this attention the building has received in the last couple of weeks has brought people out who may be interested in doing something with it."

While Emily Lisska, of the Jacksonville Historical Society, says landmark designation does not make it impossible for the building to be taken down if the owners can prove it is a hazard, it does offer one level of protection for the building.

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