2019 #DTJax Awards: The Barnett Building and UNF Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Downtown Projects of the Year


Left to Right: Jake Gordon, Dr. Simon Rhoades, Dr. Mark Dawkins, Karen Bowling, Steve Atkins

The Downtown Project(s) of the Year award recognizes a project that has significantly enhanced the economic revitalization of Downtown through the activation of underutilized buildings, job creation or leading design practices. Our co-winners this year are projects that celebrate Jacksonville’s historical architecture and promote living and learning in Downtown Jacksonville: The Barnett Building and the UNF Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Construction on the 1927 Barnett National Bank Building began in 2017 — and just last month — The Barnett held its first official Open House. The historic building is now home to a mix of uses, from 100 apartment units to office and conference space to UNF’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, with retail coming soon.

After past false starts, developer Steve Atkins of Southeast Group came through to make the vision for The Barnett a reality activating this central property in the walkable core. Steve has also shown his commitment to the core by personally financing several public-private partnerships. 

One of the key elements Steve brought to this live/work/learn property are The Residences at the Barnett. Tenants first began moving into these loft-style apartments back in June 2018 and enjoy beautiful exposed brick walls and one of a kind views of Downtown. Steve also partnered with the University of North Florida, Karen Bowling and Provost Dr. Simon Rhoades on a Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation which held it’s ribbon cutting early last year. 

With the start of the 2019 fall term, UNF welcomed 14 entrepreneurs to the program’s first cohort to provide a yearlong development program for early-stage entrepreneurs. More than 100 companies applied for the program. They were selected by an advisory board led by Karen Bowling, director of the center. The 14 companies will have access to coworking space in the building, business development assistance from staff, advisers and mentors as well as UNF interns. 

Thank you, Southeast Group and University of North Florida for bringing the historic Barnett Building back to life!