The Ambassador Hotel opened in 1924 as the first upscale apartment building in downtown Jacksonville, Florida. The six-story building housed 110 residents in 50 units. The building was constructed of brick and limestone in the Georgian Revival style. It was designed in an H pattern so every room had a window view.
In 1944, the building was converted to a hotel and renamed the Three-Ten Hotel. In 1947, it was changed to Hotel Southland and again in 1949 to the Griner Hotel. Finally, in 1955 the building became the Ambassador Hotel.
Through the years, Jacksonville’s downtown fell into a decline. In 1970, Sam Easton, a local real estate developer, purchased the Ambassador Hotel. In 1983, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places, however it was quickly heading towards dilapidation.
During the late 1980s, the hotel was converted to low-income apartments, with rooms rented by the week. The Ambassador Hotel became the site of multiple drug busts and prostitution raids. In 1992, 50 blocks of the adjacent LaVilla neighborhood were condemned and demolished as a revitalization project. Many of the residents from the LaVilla neighborhood moved to the Ambassador Hotel.
In 1997, the building was cited for numerous code violations during a crack cocaine raid. Police discovered a hidden closed circuit surveillance system on the fifth floor to warn residents of incoming police or drug sales.
Property safety officials found cracked walls, faulty wiring, and locked fire escape doors among hundreds of other violations. The owner was given 15 days to make thousands of dollars worth of repairs in order to bring the building into compliance or face fines and possible condemnation. Some code violations dated as far back as 1991.
The Ambassador Hotel was officially condemned in 1998. Plans to renovate the hotel in 2005 never materialized. In 2009, a Jacksonville businessman had an $8 million plan to turn the abandoned apartments into the Ambassador Lofts which included 50 apartments and retail space. Today, the building remains boarded up and vacant.