The six-story brick and limestone building was built in 1924 and opened as the upscale 310 West Church Street Apartments. Designed by architects Hal Hentz, Neel Reid and Rudolph Adler, the Georgian Revival styled building was built in the shape of an “H” which provided every room with a window while still able to house about 110 residents.
In 1944, the apartment building was converted into a hotel and renamed Three-Ten Hotel. Though it wouldn’t be the last time it would be renamed as it would only be three years before it was renamed in 1947 as Hotel Southland, and again in 1949 to Griner Hotel. Finally, the hotel was renamed one final time in 1955 to the Ambassador Hotel, the name it is called by today.
As Jacksonville’s downtown went into decline, the hotel fell into disrepair along with it. In 1983, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places, but code violations and multiple drug busts and raids have given the hotel a bad reputation and losing any hope of saving it. Most of the residents in the hotel at that time came from the adjacent LaVilla neighborhood, where most of the houses were condemned or demolished. Some of the homes were condemned due to drug raids by police.
On June 12, 1997, police raided the building after weeks of surveillance and undercover buys of crack cocaine and at least one other raid at the hotel. No drugs were recovered but two arrests were made and drug paraphernalia was found on the fifth floor. Police also found a hidden closed circuit monitoring system on the fifth floor, used to warn them of oncoming police or to monitor drug customers.
City property officials were with the officers during raid to check for safety-code violations and other problems. Among the code violations found were faulty wiring, cracked walls, improper screens, poor sanitation and lighting, and locked fire escape doors. Residents received notices stating that the building no longer complied with code and that they would have to be fixed to remain open. The hotel was officially condemned in 1998.
Since then, many people have been interested in renovating the dilapidated hotel, but as of yet, none of the plans have gone through. In 2005, renovations were halted at the hotel along with the nearby Duval County Courthouse. In 2009, Lamonte Carter, director of Oasis Venture Group, had plans to covert the hotel rooms into 50 apartment units but nothing has come of it.
Just recently in May 2011, Ryan Whitaker of Grandbridge Real Estate Capital, is seeking $6.25 million in debt financing and plans to have the apartments ready for leasing by Summer 2012.