by: Admin in Thought Leadership No Comments  

Photo by Rob Futrell

We’re no Jamie Hyneman or Adam Savage, but we’ve got a myth to bust – the misperception that Downtown Jacksonville is unsafe.

In a recent Downtown Marketing Collaborative survey, 26% of the nearly 4,000 respondents said they believe Downtown Jacksonville is unsafe. That’s 26% too many.

Downtown Jacksonville is one of the city’s safest neighborhoods. With that said, however, safety is everyone’s concern, whether in the urban core or elsewhere. That’s why Downtown Vision, Inc.’s website offers several safety tips for Downtowners and beyond. Some of those tips include:

  • Walk in well-traveled and well-lit places, especially at night. Report burned-out street lights to JEA. Other unsafe conditions, such as broken sidewalks or unsecured vacant buildings, should be reported to 904-630-CITY or by submitting a Care Complaint (click green “Create Issue” icon at left).
  • Pay attention, stay alert and be aware of your surroundings. Project a confident image and walk with a purpose.
  • Always lock your car, and take your keys with you. Use a mobile phone app, such as G-Park or iParked, to help you remember where you parked.

One of the biggest contributors to the perception that Downtown is unsafe is the nuisance of panhandling. Downtown is part of the Riverfront Enhancement Area, where it is illegal to panhandle. You can actively help us reduce its occurrences. Never give money to a panhandler – it simply encourages the activity. Immediately report all incidents to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office via their non-emergency line, 904-630-0500.

In addition to these safety tips, DVI’s Downtown Ambassadors are available for directions, safety escorts and general Downtown information during their normal hours of operation within the Downtown improvement district. Find an Ambassador, dressed in an orange shirt and pith helmet, or call 904-465-7980.

Don’t let the misperception that Downtown is unsafe prevent you from enjoying the heart of our great city. The more people who come Downtown to live, work and play, the more eyes and ears we’ll have on the streets, which will reduce nuisance activity, and moreover, help debunk this Downtown myth.

by: Katherine Hardwick in Historic Preservation No Comments  

Tonight, City Council will entertain public hearings on the Mayor’s $9 million investment plan for Downtown and the mobility fee moratorium. Discussion on the Bostwick Building, however, continues to be deferred at the request of the property owners, but is still scheduled to be on the March 5 Land Use and Zoning (LUZ) Committee agenda.

In light of this, we thought we’d revisit the Bostwick discussion with this excellent design exploration from our friends over at Content Design Group showcasing one option for adaptive reuse:

Urban facelift rendering by Content Design Group

 “This urban facelift obviously just shows one way to save the building, keeping the facade and putting in new windows and doors, adding another steel structure to the walls and roof on the interior, and adding a roof deck with bar. This is the most expensive reuse of the building. Another way to save it, would be to only save the facade and build a new separate building on the interior of the lot. Would make a fantastic outdoor space between the shell of the old and the new.”

Full article and more renderings here.

by: Katherine Hardwick in Advocacy 1 Comment  

Mayor Brown’s proposal to invest $11 million into Downtown and Jacksonville-wide economic improvements is now in the hands of City Council.

With $9 million of the plan dedicated to leveraging private investment in Downtown, it may not be a simple sell. The funds – a result of successful debt refinancing – will be deposited into an economic development trust fund and distributed by the Downtown Investment Authority. An additional $2 million is slated for citywide economic improvements and expansion.

Some may argue that $9 million is too much for Downtown, or that we’ve already spent enough Downtown.

$1.4 billion has been invested in Downtown between 2000 and 2011. Of that, 20% was federally funded; 1% was state-funded; 18% funded the Better Jacksonville Plan: public projects such as the Main Library, the Veteran’s Memorial Arena and EverBank Field; and just 11% was City-funded. The remaining half was private investment.

Successful Downtowns are built on public-private partnerships, with public investment incentivizing private. The public—Jacksonville residents—desire a successful Downtown, ranking Downtown as the number one issue for improvement by the year 2025 and believe a vibrant Downtown is important to the economic health of the region.

DVI believes this $9 million of capital investment will make the biggest impact for Jacksonville when invested in Downtown, fostering activation and growth of the Downtown tax base.  Join us and voice your support for investment in a stronger Downtown and, ultimately, a stronger Jacksonville. Call or write your council members and ask them to support bill 2013-0089. A short sample letter is provided below.

Timeline
A public hearing on the bill is set for Tuesday, Feb. 26, at City Hall. The bill will also be addressed by the Finance Committee on March 5 at 10 a.m. and by the Recreation Community Development (RCD) Committee on March 5 at 2 p.m. The final vote on the bill will take place on March 12.

Sample Letter
Dear City Council Members,

A strong Downtown is important to the economic health of the Jacksonville region. I urge you to approve Ordinance 2013-89, which would infuse Downtown Jacksonville with $9 million of capital investment. This sum is essential to leverage private investment that will activate and revitalize our Downtown.  

 

by: Admin in Uncategorized No Comments  

Dig Downtown Jacksonville homepage.

Downtown enthusiasts share the skinny on exciting events, epicurean delights and more on the Downtown Marketing Collaborative’s Dig Downtown Jacksonville lifestyle blog. Contributions from Downtown advocates and local writers tell infinite Downtown stories that often go overlooked or unrealized.

Downtown Vision, Inc.‘s most recent epistolary contribution is “My Valentine to Downtown Jacksonville,” written by our intern Angela Bruno, a student at the University of North Florida:

“We have grown up together: over the past decade, I’ve watched you evolve as a city, mirroring my evolution as an adult. With JCCI’s JAX2025 project and with my impending college graduation, we are both ready to realize our full potential…. You’ve survived the recession and new businesses are popping up all across the urban core. You are a thriving, wonderful community of artists, creators, entrepreneurs and young people like me, who see everything as an opportunity.”

Find Angela’s full blog post – plus more great Downtown lifestyle reads – at www.digdowntownjax.com.  The blog is always looking for contributors; contact myas@smithandsurrency.com for more information. For links other Downtown-centric blogs, visit our blog library.

What do you dig about Downtown Jacksonville?

by: Katherine Hardwick in Thought Leadership No Comments  

If you want to glean insight into what’s important to the people of Jacksonville, there are a number of recent polls at your disposal. Much discussion as of late has been centered on JCCI’s JAX2025 survey, which examines how people want to see Jacksonville evolve. Released in January, it targets Downtown as the number one issue for improvement. Last week, a second study of more than 900 people released by the University of North Florida focused on where Jacksonville is today. It found that 37% of respondents feel the economy should be top priority. Linking these two studies together is the Downtown Marketing Collaborative’s fall 2012 poll, which found that 91% of respondents believe that Downtown is important to the economic health of the region.

Click to view this video.

On WJXT’s “This Week in Jacksonville” with Kent Justice, DVI’s Terry Lorince explains why an active and vibrant Downtown is an indicator of the economic health of the entire Jacksonville region. (Watch Lorince at the 13:15 minute mark.)

Downtown is a reflection of the community and companies looking to locate or relocate to Jacksonville will factor our Downtown in the decision-making process: Does Downtown provide a broad spectrum of quality of life offerings, such as arts and entertainment, to attract a diversity of employees?

Securing community support for Downtown revitalization is the first step in creating a competitive Downtown, which will attract regional and national businesses to our city and create more jobs. The community has identified our areas for improvement. Now, we need to focus on a road map to get there and how we will benchmark success.

by: Liz Grebe in Placemaking No Comments  

Guerilla sidewalk gardening

Downtowns may not be perfect, but they’re the perfect canvas for a little – or a lot – of creativity through guerilla placemaking: everything from street art to gardening to benching.

Generally speaking, placemaking is not a new concept. It has been around since the 1960s, when visionaries like Jane Jacobs and William “Holly”Whyte offered ideas about designing cities around people instead of cars and shopping centers. Guerrilla placemaking makes people talk and question what’s going on. It’s under-the-radar pops of color, surprises and even activities that make people feel welcome and comfortable and create a sense of place.

Tables and chairs outside of Chamblin’s Uptown

A couple of years ago, public pianos were placed around Downtown as a part of the City Keys Project. One still sits in front of Chamblin’s Uptown bookstore and café today and the sounds of impromptu concerts often waft down Laura Street. Building upon this vibe, owner Ron Chamblin used the Laura Street Façade Grant Program to add chairs, tables and umbrellas to create a free-floating place for folks to read, chat and sip coffee. This spring a whimsical mural, also part of the grant program, will be added to the storefront to further define this sense of place.

Not all projects have to be long-term or permanent; going guerrilla is about starting small. It’s something we can all take part in to better our community, to leave our mark, and create interesting, engaging, even surprising experiences. And, as with the streetscape at Chamblin’s, small placemaking surprises can often be the start of something big.

Guerrilla placemaking is about bringing a community together in unconventional ways. It is tactable urbanism – ever changing, sociable and inspiring. Here’s a look at what other cities have done:

 

Share links from your favorite guerrilla placemaking projects below.

 

by: Jennifer Hewett-Apperson in Developments No Comments  

There are currently three significant infrastructure projects in the works that impact connectivity on the Southbank: FDOT’s Overland Bridge, JTA’s Bus Rapid Transit and the City’s reconstruction of the Southbank Riverwalk.

Overland Bridge Replacement Repair
The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is in the process of reconstructing the I-95 Overland Bridge between the Fuller Warren Bridge and Atlantic Boulevard. Key aspects of this project include new access to I-95 from Atlantic Boulevard, improved traffic circulation and capacity, and improved access to the Main Street and Acosta Bridges. This project began construction on January 14, 2013, and is projected to be completed in 2016.  Learn more about project phases and traffic impacts here.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)
The Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) is adding Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to its mass transit services. Enhanced Downtown service is part of this new system. A segment proposed for the Southbank along Riverplace Boulevard is currently under design and has been the subject of much discussion. A community meeting to discuss this component of the BRT system is scheduled for Tuesday, February 19 at 6:00 p.m. This meeting will be held in the Wyndham Jacksonville Riverwalk Hotel Conference Center.

Southbank Riverwalk
The Southbank Riverwalk reconstruction is currently under design by the City of Jacksonville with construction anticipated to begin in Summer 2013. Reconstruction of the Riverwalk will begin at Friendship Fountain and be rebuilt in sections to ensure that access to a portion of the Riverwalk remains available throughout the construction process. This construction process is expected to take approximately 12 months.

Stay tuned for future updates on these projects!