Studer Properties unveiled plans Thursday for a $6.5 million upgrade planned for the nine-story building at 220 West Garden Street in downtown Pensacola, formerly known as SunTrust Tower.
Developer Quint Studer announced plans in April to purchase the 9-story, 95,000 square foot office building. That transaction is expected to close in August.
Studer presented conceptual plans for planned renovations to the tower at a business roundtable event on Monday. He said the goal of the purchase and renovations was to turn the building into a place for community discussions and dialogue, host expert speakers on issues important to Pensacola, and create an open public space for citizens to meet and enjoy downtown.
A new name hasn’t been announced for the building, though the conceptual plans feature a large Studer Community Institute logo on the tower and its street-level plaza.
“Our goal has always been to improve the quality of life for people in Northwest Florida,” said Studer. “From Entrecon to the Business Roundtable to the future SCI building, we hope to help our community and our local businesses be more productive and profitable, which means more jobs and a better trained workforce.”
The plans depict the addition of public spaces both inside and outside the building. The triangular plaza in front of the building, which is currently completely hardscaped, would be reconfigured and landscaped to incorporate grass, trees, shade structures, water features, and seating areas. A smaller circular terrace would be carved out along the Spring Street side of the building, facing the building’s large windowless facade, where Studer hopes to host outdoor movie screenings and other events.
The Studers may also explore the possibility of hosting food trucks streetside, though that would require some reconfiguration of traffic lanes as there isn’t currently street parking on either the Spring or Garden Street sides of the building.
Extensive changes are planned for the building’s lobby, including the addition of an auditorium, seating areas and workstations, and a bar and/or coffee shop. An observation deck is also depicted on the building’s top floor.
Studer’s purchase of the building follows his unsuccessful effort in 2015 to build a planned Center for Entrepreneurship at the Community Maritime Park along the downtown waterfront. That project fell apart after lease negotiations between the city and Studer broke down, but Studer said in April that he has since traveled and researched other examples of multi-use community facilities.
“I felt the rejection of the UWF Center for Entrepreneurship and conference center at the Maritime Park was a real loss for the community,” Studer said at the time. “As it turns out, the SunTrust building, while not accomplishing all of what we planned at the Maritime Park, might accomplish some of it.”