by: Admin in Thought Leadership No Comments  

Photo by Rob Futrell

Downtown Jacksonville is home to more than 1,100 businesses, including three Fortune 500 companies.

Downtown workers are as unique as the businesses they support, but they hold at least one thing in common: they are part of companies smart enough to call Downtown home.

Downtown is a great place for business. Among the reasons:

Downtown Jacksonville offers the most affordable Central Business District commercial space in Florida. Rates for retail and office space are also competitive with Northeast Florida suburban locations. And, in addition to a low tax burden, there are a number of state and local incentive programs available.

Downtown is easily accessible from two major interstate highways, a 19-minute drive to the airport and Beaches and offers the most transit options. Nearly 44,000 parking spaces are available Downtown, with monthly rates as low as $15.

84% of Downtown workers reported they like their Downtown workplace, citing Downtown’s vibrancy, authenticity and amenities. There are more than 200 restaurants, bars, retailers and service providers that are walkable in the Downtown core.

An urban environment encourages productivity and a healthy lifestyle. Downtown offers several gyms, nearly three miles of Riverwalk and pedestrian-friendly bridges to help employees keep in shape.

Downtown Vision, Inc.’s website hosts information on available retail space, business incentives, urban developments proposed and under construction, demographics and statistics, and more.

It’s time to be part of Downtown. What are you waiting for? Consider this your invitation.

by: Katherine Hardwick in Resident Spotlights, Thought Leadership (2) Comments  

Whether you refer to them as the residential choice of the future for young professionals or “luxury shantytowns for hipsters,” micro-lofts appear to be the latest and greatest solution to urban housing shortages.

Micro-loft rendering in the Burns Block Heritage Building in Vancouver

These residential units—from new developments like New York City’s first prefab apartment tower to adaptive reuse spaces, like The Arcade Providence in Providence, Rhode Island—trade spaciousness for affordability. Making the most out living spaces as small as 200-400 square feet, many micro-lofts fit into the same amount of space as a one- or two-car garage. Units employ murphy beds, built-in furniture and plush common areas to make urban living a reality for the budget conscious who might otherwise be priced out of the market. Other key features often offered, such as convenient access to public transportation and outside bike ramps with direct access to a bike storage rooms points to another benefit of urban living: walkability.

Laura Street Trio: Florida Life Building, Old Florida National Bank (Marble Bank) and the Bisbee Building

Tapping into the trend of young professionals flocking to downtowns, micro-lofts seem to be clued into the changing lifestyle preferences of a new generation: vibrancy, activity, walkability and authenticity.

Micro-lofts in the The Arcade Providence touts the “chance  to live in one of Providence’s most notable landmarks.”

With high occupancy rates and the demand for more market-rate residential units in the core, could micro-lofts be in the future for Downtown Jacksonville’s vacant historic buildings, such as the Florida Life Building or the Bisbee Building?

 

 

by: Katherine Hardwick in Thought Leadership No Comments  

Thanks to JAX2025, Downtown Jacksonville is as hot a topic as ever.

The community-wide survey results were released last Saturday at the first of several community visioning events and cited Downtown as the number one issue respondents would like to see improved. This week’s Folio Weekly issue delves into into these findings. Here is an excerpt from, “Do You Identify with Downtown? Fixing the core is the key to many issues,” an Editor’s Note by Denise M. Reagan:

“The people have spoken. At least 14,000 of them, anyway. And 62.6 percent of those are not satisfied with downtown Jacksonville.

This is according to the Jacksonville Community Council Inc.’s JAX2025 survey that asked people to rate many issues facing the city…

…Many people in Jacksonville and surrounding communities don’t see their connection to downtown. No doubt they are among the 19.1 percent who were neutral on the topic in the survey. But if you look at almost any successful big city, the suburbs proudly identify themselves as part of that city and are drawn to it through arts, sports, shopping and community events. This is what downtown Jacksonville could be: the hub around which a greater metropolitan area revolves.”

 Pick up a copy of this week’s Folio Weekly, or click here to read the full article. 

Make your voice heard about Downtown. The next JAX2025 community visioning event will be held on Saturday, February 2, 2013 from 9-11 a.m. at the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center. Registration is free.

by: Katherine Hardwick in Thought Leadership No Comments  

When more than 14,000 Jacksonvillians weighed in on the recent JAX2025 survey—the first step towards creating a shared vision of what Jacksonville can become and how we will get there—Downtown Jacksonville weighed heavily on their minds.

Downtown ranked in the top 10 responses for “what should be preserved” and ranked number one for both “what concerns you” and “what should be improved.” This survey is a reality check. And there is a silver lining: it proves that Downtown matters to the people of Jacksonville.

One picture is worth a thousand words.

Downtown matters. Downtown is a source of community identity, culture, history and pride.

Downtown matters. A strong Downtown attracts new businesses, jobs and a diverse work force to the region.

Downtown matters. A strong Downtown increases property values throughout the community and enhances the quality of life for all Jacksonville residents.

DVI is one of many groups working towards a healthy and vibrant Downtown. But this shared goal will not become a reality without action from us all:

  • Get familiar with what there is to do Downtown, tell your friends.
  • Go out to lunch or dinner Downtown, stay and enjoy the riverfront.
  • Take in a show Downtown, stay for a night cap.
  • Plan your next date night Downtown.
  • Bring the kids Downtown for education and entertainment.
  • Hold your next event or meeting Downtown.
  • Start your business Downtown or join a co-working space.
  • Make your voice heard at the next JAX2025 community visioning event:

Community Visioning Event #2: A Vision for Jacksonville
Saturday, February 2. 9-11 a.m.
Now that we have created a shared agenda for our JAX2025 Vision – what we will preserve, and what we will improve — we need to refine those concepts into statements of vision and purpose. In the follow-up meetings, we will determine measures of success and accountability, and then develop a plan of action. Now is the time to step back, take a deep breath, and decide together what we want our city to be. Register for this free event.

 

 

by: Katherine Hardwick in Thought Leadership No Comments  

WalkScore for 32202: “Walker’s Paradise”

It’s been said that Downtown Jacksonville doesn’t have a parking problem, it has a walking problem. The negative perception of parking is, at least in part, related to the fact that a person may have to park a block or two away from his or her destination and… walk.

WalkScore, an organization whose mission is to help people find a walkable place to live and enjoy a walkable lifestyle, gives “Downtown Jacksonville” a score of 78 – the highest for any Jacksonville neighborhood, followed by San Marco (76) and Riverside (73). The Northbank’s 32202 zip code actually rates much higher with a score 91 and is lauded as a walker’s paradise.

By shear size, Jacksonville is an expansive, auto-centric city. But, have we forgotten the simple pleasures of walking? The joy of increased social interaction, street-level exploration and stumbling upon creative inspiration? The health and stress relief benefits?

Throughout the nation, walkability is coming back into vogue these days and it’s no secret why. A walkable city offers greater energy efficiency, less air pollution, and often times, higher home values and lessened commuting expenses.

Christopher B. Leinberger of The Brookings Institution puts the importance of walkable Downtowns into terms we can all understand, Back to the Future. In the 1985 film, main character Marty McFly lives in a low-density, drivable suburban neighborhood, where a trip into his present day (1985) Downtown, portrays a littered place full of boarded-up store fronts and torn awnings. However, once transported back into 1955, the scene is staggeringly different: Downtown was well-manicured and walkable with businesses of all types creating a social and civic center of the community.

Perhaps we all need to go back in time to remember why walkable cities matter and will be the healthy, thriving Downtowns of the future.

by: Katherine Hardwick in Advocacy No Comments  

Interested in joining the conversation on the revitalization of Downtown? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

This editorial, written by DVI’s executive director Terry Lorince, was reposted from Jacksonville.com on Jan. 19, 2013:

It’s no secret that downtown Jacksonville has been in revitalization mode for decades.

However, revitalization kicked into high gear last year with significant accomplishments. We must use these as a springboard and keep moving forward.

In 2012, Farah & Farah completed a building renovation and added a private courtyard on Main Street.

7-Eleven opened two new convenience stores: the first on the ground floor of Julia and Forsyth Streets, the second at the intersection of Main and Union Streets.

After four years of construction, the new Duval County Courthouse opened its doors in June.

And the JAX Chamber launched renovations to become “Downtown’s new front door.”

A major victory for downtown, the new Downtown Investment Authority is actively defining its role and pursuing new development projects.

The green-lighted 220 Riverside development and the Pope and Land mixed-use project along Riverside Avenue will result in nearly 600 housing units, new retail and restaurants and a public park within biking and walking proximity to the downtown core.

Plus, the Yates YMCA will be second to none following the completion of its new riverfront facility.

All of this will provide an additional 1,000 people living downtown — roughly a 25 percent increase toward the goal of having 10,000 residents downtown.

WORKING WITH WHAT WE HAVE

New development is traditionally easier than renovation and often provides greater economic benefit. However, adaptive reuse of downtown’s existing areas allows Downtown to retain a sense of personality; attracts the creative class; fosters small business incubation and affordable housing; stabilizes neighborhoods; and attracts arts, culture and heritage tourism.

THE RIVERFRONT

The St. Johns River is downtown’s No. 1 asset. The city and its authorities own more than 120 acres of riverfront, including the former courthouse site and the Shipyards property on the Northbank and the JEA site on the Southbank.

How should this land be developed? What kind of residential development would best suit our city — high-rise condos or quaint lower-density buildings?

Downtown boasts nearly three miles of riverwalk, but they lack management, maintenance and activation.

How do we grow the Riverwalk into a premier asset?

How do we provide more river access?

What other services (such as water transportation, for example) are needed to increase opportunities along the river?

PUBLIC PARKS

We need to turn what we already have into thriving public spaces.

Two of our “ripest” public spaces, Hemming Plaza and the Main Street pocket park are begging for attention. Currently, lack of management, maintenance and activation plagues these areas.

The demolition of the former courthouse will create an additional public space.

I firmly believe that the issues surrounding Hemming Plaza are solvable and that we are on the cusp of turning this landmark into a spectacular space.

I’ve seen other cities with limited resources turn struggling parks into thriving destinations overflowing with people and activity.

Please join the discussion on our blog at www.downtownjacksonville.org/blog.

 

Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/business/columnists/2013-01-18/story/guest-column-revitalization-downtown#ixzz2ISaPfaBF

by: Admin in Resident Spotlights 1 Comment  

On any given workday in Downtown Jacksonville, you’ll notice that among the experienced attorneys and veteran bank workers, there’s a slew of young professionals strolling along the sidewalks during the morning rush, filling up lunchtime eateries at noon and congregating in Downtown bars for after-work happy hours.

It’s all a part of a growing trend of 20 and 30-somethings leaving the suburbs for urban cores, seeking the variety and authenticity of city ambiance. According to Census data, U.S. cities are growing at a faster pace than the suburbs for the first time since the 1920s. And, in Jacksonville, the 2010 Census data shows that about 30% of residents in and near the urban core fall into the young-professional age range.

Paige Calvert, community curator at Downtown’s CoWork Jax, is one such young professional who lives and works on Downtown’s Northbank. For as long as she can remember, Calvert’s been a fan of city life.

“Even as a kid, I was super-obsessed with skyscrapers and being in the city,” she said. “I still want to be in a big city, around people – it’s been a life-long thing.”

Calvert said it’s the energy that appeals to her most – the changing storefronts; the constant familiar and new faces she sees on the sidewalks; the walkability to great dining, concerts and more. She added that many of her friends, including those living in places such as Atlanta and Charlotte, agree. “It’s a lifestyle they all want to live,” she said.

As for the trend catching on in Jacksonville, she’s optimistic but knows the demand for living Downtown is quite higher than the supply. “If there was more residential Downtown, there would be more people Downtown,” she said, “and it would be more of a trend.”

With large-scale projects like 200 Riverside and Riverside Place underway to infuse Downtown with nearly 1,000 residential units plus smaller adaptive reuse projects set to create more residential in the core, we expect to see the number of residents and businesses relocating Downtown to continue to climb.

Do you work and/or live in Downtown Jacksonville? If not, would you consider doing so? Share your thoughts in this blog post’s comment section below.