Clarion could be coming down at airport
by David Chapman, Staff Writer

The Jacksonville Clarion Hotel Airport Conference Center could soon be gutted and replaced with a DoubleTree by Hilton, according to a purchase and sale agreement conditionally approved by the Jacksonville Aviation Authority.

The JAA board conditionally approved the agreement Monday.

The hotel sits on 5.2 acres of JAA property, which requires the authority to sign off on the deal. JAA leases the site to the operator.

The six-story, 220-room hotel is operated by Park Place Properties Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of CenterState Bank.

Park Place has entered into an agreement to sell its leasehold interest to JAX Hotel LLC, an assignee of Turn-Key Hospitality Solutions. Kaushik Desai and Nayan Patel are partners of JAX Hotel.

Under terms of the deal, JAX Hotel had to secure consent of the authority to assign the hotel agreement by April 30.

As part of the agreement, JAX Hotel must submit an application for a DoubleTree franchise agreement with Hilton Hotels Corp. and obtain a commitment from Hilton prior to closing.

JAX Hotel then will contract with Matrix Hospitality Group to manage and operate the hotel.

JAX Hotel also will gut the existing Clarion Hotel and construct a full-service hotel under the Hilton DoubleTree brand, according to documents filed with the JAA.

The remodeling is estimated to cost $5 million. It will meet DoubleTree standards and will feature meeting rooms, restaurant and other amenities.

The board conditionally approved the agreement unanimously.

The JAA’s conditions include proof of a clean title, the hotel operating as a Hilton DoubleTree brand or brand name of equal or greater rating and the execution of a new lease agreement.

“It will be the only four-star property in North Jacksonville,” said JAA Executive Director Steve Grossman.

Grossman said the agreement would cost the authority minimally — only the costs of signage changes — and would bring the Hilton name and prestige to the area.

Grossman said it would be “an excellent result” of the current situation.

Originally constructed in 1973, the Clarion was operated under Skycenter Hotel until the company sued the authority alleging that terminal renovations negatively impacted business.

The lawsuit was settled in 1995 and the hotel reverted to the authority.

The authority then entered an agreement with J&M Enterprises in April 1997, which then assigned the agreement to Kantibhai Patel and Kalavati Patel in October 1997.

The agreement terms commenced March 10, 1998, and terminated March 9, 2053. The terms called for a base rent of $2,333 per month plus a variable rent of 2 percent of gross revenues of $83,333 per month.

Rental adjustments called for an increase to $4,000 per month in 2023 and a variable rent increase of 2 percent of all gross revenue in 2023.

On Dec. 15, 2003, according to the documents, the authority approved assignment of the agreement to Leslie Lurken, who also operated the hotel as a Clarion until May of last year when he informed the authority he was unable to resolve credit issues with what is now CenterState Bank, which placed it with Park Properties., 356-2466