The upper floors of Seminole County’s first “skyscraper” have been vacant for more than 2 decades.

John Revelle plans to change that.

His vision for the property located at 101 E 1st St. includes:

  • Rehabbing the upper floors into a boutique hotel;
  • Remodeling the 1st floor to create a hotel lobby while accommodating the existing Wells Fargo bank;
  • Installing a roof-top bar;
  • Building a 7-story structure on the property’s existing parking lot (from Park to Magnolia avenues) that would connect to the south side of the bank building on the second floor and above. It would house a 380-car parking garage (250 would be available for public parking), 2 additional floors of hotel rooms, and first-floor retail that would feature a small grocery store on the Magnolia Avenue side of the structure.

Revelle, who owns Sanford Hotel Group LLC, met with Sanford city planners recently to discuss his initial plans to convert the 6-story building that is currently referred to by many as the “Wells Fargo” building.

Revelle has the property under contract and is performing due diligence, including a market analysis. Revelle has hired Hank Fonde Jr. of CBRE Hotels (a division of international commercial real estate firm CBRE) to provide a market analysis and help shepherd the project in the early stages.

Cooper Carry, an internationally known architecture firm based in Atlanta will design the new parking and retail building, Revelle said. Sanford native Jerry Mills of BHM Architects, Inc. will be the local consultant.

See renderings of the proposed building at the end of article

During the pre-application meeting, Sanford Historic Preservation Officer Christina Dalton said city codes don’t allow new construction higher than 4 stories in the historic commercial district.

Dalton noted, however, that since 250 of the 380 spaces in the parking garage would be set aside for public parking, an argument could be made that the new structure provides a benefit to the public. The city attorney would have to research the issue Dalton said. Ultimately, the City Commission may decide if the height would be allowed.

Commissioners would also have to determine what, if any, financial assistance the city would provide for the parking structure.

“A big part of making the numbers work on this deal is some sort of public-private partnership (on the parking garage),” said Revelle, who added he expects to tap into overseas investors and local lending institutions to finance the $20 million project. The partnership could be in the form of cost-sharing or tax abatements, he said.

The city has been reaching out to local property owners in search of additional downtown parking. Downtown’s resurgence, coupled with the $50 million Heritage Park development that will add 235 residential units, has made parking a hot topic in the community. The city recently inked two deals to lease private land for surface parking, and is open to more deals. (“City OKs new d-town parking plan“) 

Revelle and Mills have met twice with Deputy City Manager Tom George, who is the point person for downtown parking.

Revelle would like to have the project done by the end of 2019, but said it’s still very early in the process. He has not yet secured a flag for the hotel. He has also not secured an agreement with a grocery store.

“We need to see what the feasibility study shows,” said Revelle.

The building is one of Sanford’s landmark historic structures. It was built in 1922, 9 years after the creation of Seminole County, by the George A. Fuller Co., which built a number of iconic buildings in New York City including the Flatiron Building, the Plaza Hotel and Macy’s flagship store on 34th Street.

It was Sanford’s first “skyscraper,” and for most of it’s 95 years a bank has been on the first floor. Long-time locals refer to the building as the “Sanford Atlantic Bank,” while newer residents call it by whatever name results from the latest bank merger, which is currently Wells Fargo.

The sketches below were done in 2007 by Jerry Mills. The top two floors of the new structure are labeled residential, which was the plan in 2007. Revelle’s plan is to use those 2 floors as part of the hotel he plans for the existing bank building.

Editor’s note: I wrote an earlier version of this story for GrowthSpotter.com, an online publication that focuses on early-stage development news and notably property sales.

View from Park Avenue – Click to enlarge
A view from Park Avenue. The existing bank building is on the left. The proposed building would connect to the existing building on the 2nd floor and above. Editor’s note: The colors shown are not proposed and were only added to enhance the black-and-white sketch. Credit: Jerry Mills
View from 2nd Street – Click to enlarge
A view of the proposed structure from 2nd Street. Editor’s note: The colors shown are not proposed and were only added to enhance the black-and-white sketch. Credit: Jerry Mills
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