by: Katherine Hardwick in Business Spotlights, Spotlight (2) Comments  

If you’re like us, chances are you’ve not only been to Dos Gatos and Underbelly but you’ve recommended them to your friends. And now, these two bars of The Elbow just received glowing international endorsements from The Guardian (UK) as a part of their “America uncovered” series. Here are the excerpts:

Top 10 bars in Florida

Florida may be full of bars designed to relieve tourists of their dollars, but these are not them. From Santa Rosa on the northern Gulf coast, right down to Key West, here are the bars locals hang out in.

Dos Gatos, Jacksonville

Fresh cocktails here are perhaps the best in Florida. On the bar sits an enormous tray with fresh ingredients and if you sit by the bar you get hit with aromas of lime, chilli peppers, mint and a host of other ingredients. Watching the drinks being made is almost, but not quite, as enjoyable as drinking them. Combine that with exposed brick walls, a tin ceiling, a fireplace and an eclectic mix of music, and you have one of the state’s ultimate cocktail lounges. Popular with the tattooed crowd, for sure, but a place that welcomes anyone. And the painting of the Spanish woman behind the bar really has a way of engaging your eyes.

• 123 East Forsyth Street, Jacksonville, +1 904 354 0666,

Check out the full top ten list here.

Top 10 live music venues in Florida

Tempted to go to a gig in Miami, Orlando, Jacksonville or Key West? Florida has rock, indie and punk covered … and some great happy hours to enjoy too.

Underbelly, Jacksonville

Originally a backyard speakeasy in Jacksonville’s historic Five Points neighbourhood, Underbelly is now in the heart of downtown with a huge, just-renovated space that features a state-of-the-art soundstage, a sizable craft beer selection (check out brews from their local Intuition brewery on tap), and some pretty good barbecue to boot. Underbelly has been a crucial part of the recent wave of revitalisation in Jacksonville’s urban core.

• +1 904 353 6067, Open Tue 5pm-midnight, Wed-Sat, 5pm-2am, Sun-Mon open for concerts only

Check out the full top ten list here.

by: Katherine Hardwick in Spotlight No Comments  

On One Spark in Downtown Jacksonville:

“Crowded cars on the Skyway. Traffic congestion downtown. Long waits at restaurants.

Isn’t it wonderful?

More than once I heard someone talking about the vibe, even the seemingly negative aspects, by saying, ‘Isn’t this great? … This feels like a real downtown.'”

Read the the full article, “Mark Woods: Downtown felt like downtown should feel” at

Can’t get enough of One Spark? Here are a number of wrap-ups and recaps to get your fix, facts and figures:


When Shawn Thurston spray-painted his landscape mural on the storefront of Chamblin’s Uptown last month, the installation was an introduction of the public art to come. Using the inaugural One Spark festival as a catalyst, DVI continued its efforts in collaboration with the Cultural Council to bring art Downtown, acting as a liaison between artists and property owners and securing approval to add four temporary and permanent public art installations to Downtown’s building façades.

Doug Eng’s “Beyond the Facade”

Local photographer and fine artist, Doug Eng, installed large-scale images of nature and architecture called “Beyond the Façade,” over the boarded windows of the Laura St. Trio and Barnett Bank buildings at the intersection of Laura and Adams streets.

A familiar face in the Downtown art scene, Eng has participated in Off the Grid for a number of years, formerly with a studio space in Studio 121 and currently as a member of the artist cooperative, Southlight Gallery. Prior to “Beyond the Façade,” Eng has lead and participated in a number of installations and exhibits Downtown including “Message in a Bottle: Wall of Light” in Main Street Park last spring. The installation sculpture displayed thousands of messages from the community to raise the awareness of our military’s service to our country.

‘Currently the landscape of abandoned buildings, empty storefronts, and “Available” signage is the driver of depressed states of consciousness for the city. By creating interest, curiosity, and observer interaction, we can begin to transform the downtown experience to a positive one,’ said Eng.

“Rise from the Ashes” by Corey Kolb & Eric Hinote

Local activists Doug Coleman and Wayne Wood introduced “The Big One” project, which brought six larger-than-life sculpture and mural installations to Downtown for One Spark. Included in project is the “Rise from the Ashes” wheat paste mural spanning the width of the vacant Lerner Building, which sits across from The Carling residence at 20 W. Adams Street.

The mural was a joint collaboration by local artists and graphic designers Corey Kolb and Eric Hinote.  “We were trying to portray a positive message for the city in that it’s time to support Downtown and see it return to the epicenter it once was. We see that initiatives like Art Walk and One Spark can revitalize Jacksonville’s urban core by giving people a reason to visit and stay Downtown,” said Hinote. “We feel it’s time that Jacksonville embraces this notion and builds off the initiatives it has put in place to make Downtown more vibrant culturally.”

“Yarnbomb Downtown Jax” by Jackie Kuhn

Between the Laura Street Trio and Lerner buildings, sits an empty fenced-in lot, which came to life with whimsical knitted scenes lead by Jackie Kuhn from Neptune Beach, FL. The most temporary of the installations, “Yarnbomb Downtown Jax,” showcased this female dominated art form, which creates a dialogue between fiber artists and the public through non-permanent street art, called “yarn bombing.” In addition to the mural, yarn creations covered tree trunks, statues, poles and bike racks during the festival.

“Up-cycle” by SeeSAW

Two blocks down Adams Street, Matthew Hebermehl of Savannah, GA lead a project by SeeSAW, See Savannah Art Walls, to paint “Up-cycle.” This installation on the exterior of Burro Bar at 100 E. Adams Street, brings color to a formerly whitewashed wall highly visible from the Main Street bridge entrance into the Northbank core of Downtown. Inspired by the themes of renewal and cultural fire, the mural showcases the positive impact of community-centric public art.

If Thurston’s first mural was the introduction, the murals installed for One Spark are only the first chapter. Announced recently, the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville has launched a Spark Initiative for the walking core of Downtown. Through this grant program, the Cultural Council will fund additional placement of art and culture, such as bike racks or benches; or events, performances, festivals, concerts and tours.

Have you had a chance to see the new art Downtown? What do you think? What would you like to see next?

by: Admin in Thought Leadership 1 Comment  

One Spark truly has something for everyone, even the little ones! I brought my 5-year-old daughter Downtown to the One Spark festival Thursday evening and thought it would be nice to share some of the can’t-miss things that kids will be sure to enjoy.

The Skyway. This is an easy and free one! Park at the Prime Osborne Convention Center Skyway lot and hop onto the Skyway for a bird’s eye view of Downtown Jacksonville. Exit at Central Station for the first fun experience.

Tools = Schools. This creator is located at the end of Hogan Street by the Riverwalk. They are working to open an art studio/school and have an amazing interactive sculpture by local blacksmith, Robert Noelke.  People are invited to play the sculpture, which is a collection of cymbals, bells and other percussion pieces. It’s fair to say that my daughter easily spent 30 minutes playing this piece of art!

Back to the Skyway.  Head back to Central Station and hop back on the Skyway to Hemming Plaza, aka, One Spark Central!

Hemming Plaza.  Hemming Plaza features what I think may be the unofficial One Spark mascot – a giant rubber ducky floating in one of the Hemming Plaza fountains. My daughter could not get enough of the duck! Other kid-friendly Hemming Plaza creations include an afghan-covered music stage, amazing 3-D animal art, and an “air puppet” in the middle of Laura Street.  (And for the parents, Intuition Ale Works has a beer concession in the middle of the plaza!)

There are many other amazing creations that will appeal to everyone. Bring the kids and head Downtown!


by: Admin in Thought Leadership No Comments  

This is Downtown.

This is Downtown on One Spark.

After more than 20 years as a Jacksonville resident, I’m happy to say Downtown still continues to surprise me. As I stood among the crowd in Hemming Plaza Wednesday night, I saw a city I didn’t recognize, an energy I’ve never felt and pride that cannot be defined.

It’s no secret that One Spark has lit up the heart of the River City. Murals line façades of historic buildings. A larger-than-life “rubber” duckie floats in a Hemming Plaza fountain. Yarn is crocheted around lampposts and fencing and bike racks and an entire stage, all in intricate patterns and burst of color.

That’s only the beginning.

Jacksonville, you don’t want to miss this. Learn about – and try out – the art of hula-hooping on the Riverwalk. Chat with the designer of a Downtown beach proposed for the St. Johns River. See first-hand eco-friendly art, furniture, books and more. Cast your vote to support groups working to make people’s lives better through companion dogs, outdoor recreation opportunities, education and more. Hear live music, enjoy a speaker series, explore Downtown’s restaurants and nightlife.

The urban core is calling. If you’re not Downtown, you’re wasting time. This is Downtown’s time.

by: Admin in Spotlight No Comments  

Just one day away from One Spark’s Opening Ceremonies, and you can feel the excitement in the air Downtown. If you are just coming out from under your rock, don’t worry, you can learn about and see how to experience the event here.

Over the past year, DVI has had the opportunity to collaborate with the One Spark team and has gotten to know many of its movers and shakers, like Aschelle Morgan. She’s one of the staff members who is taking the spark and creating fire! Learn more about Aschelle in our Q+A:

Name: Aschelle Morgan

Job: Community Outreach and Engagement Manager

Explain your role at One Spark:

If you ask the One Spark team, my role can best be summed up by “Thanks and yay!” While my primary focus is here locally, I have the incredible role of getting to work with organizations and stakeholders  in the Southeast region to pull off what I believe to be a true game-changer for Jacksonville. Whether that is managing partnerships, rallying supporters, fulfilling speaking engagements or planning promotional events, my purpose in the organization is to get the entire community as jazzed about One Spark as we are.

How did you get involved with One Spark and why?

I initially got involved in One Spark as a volunteer after attending a couple of meetings at CoWork Jax to hear about the idea in its infant stages. To say I was inspired would be an understatement. As a Jacksonville area native, I have always known the potential this city has. Overtime that developed into a huge passion for Downtown and an ever-growing ache to help put this city on the map. One Spark, to me, was an outlet for just that. Getting involved not only meant I could be a part of showcasing amazing talent, but it meant being part of a movement that uncovers the hidden gem of the South.

What do you love most about it?

Do I have to pick just one? I think the best thing about this job is all the new friends I have made along the way. More specifically, all the friends that are just as passionate about this city as I am. I have met so many people from all walks of life who not only want a fun and flourishing Downtown but are willing to put in the leg work to make it happen. It’s really incredible to be reminded of how amazing our community is every day.

What do you want One Spark to accomplish for Downtown?

I would love to see One Spark become a magnifying glass for everything amazing that is our Downtown. Although we won’t know what the impact will be for years to come, it would be a pretty incredible thing to look back and say a side effect was uncovering for the world everything our urban core has to offer.  If that turns into business and residential growth, fantastic, but even if it’s just making us a destination once a year, that’s a pretty astounding thing, too.

What have you learned about Downtown, yourself and anything in between?

Oh boy, I don’t even know where to begin. I’ve joked that this job has been equivalent to getting a masters, Ph.D. and J.D. Whatever you need to know about doppelganger outreach, how to power through sleep deprivation or open container laws, I’m your girl.

In all seriousness though, this has been an incredible ride learning about all things Jacksonville and how to create success in our city. The biggest takeaway I have from this journey is how incredible our existing Downtown community already is. I think sometimes we get so caught up in what we want this city to be that we forget to stop and appreciate our existing local character. More importantly, the team of players that contribute everyday by simply doing what they love. From hole-in-wall business owners to community leaders to even the cool 20-somethings with the rockin’ tattoos, thanks for making our urban core something to be proud of. You are the foundation that makes something like One Spark thrive.

What are your plans after One Spark?

Sleep. Dos Gatos. Repeat. Just kidding…kind of.  After One Spark 2013, I’m pumped to move onto…drum roll please…even more One Spark! The team and I are excited to gear up for another year of showcasing innovation in our urban core. I can’t wait to see One Spark evolve in years to come and look forward to continuing to support something truly special for Jacksonville.

Anything else you want to add?

Thank you, thank you, thank you to our creators, venues, community partners and One Spark enthusiasts for making this thing real. We can’t wait to have a blast with you all this week!

Make sure to download the One Spark app for iPhone and Androids and get out there and vote!

This is more than supporting creators and One Spark, it is about supporting our community.

Downtown Jacksonville boasts one of the most beautiful settings in the country – set along the St. Johns River and bathed in sunshine most of the year. At street level, several groups and organizations work hard to keep our Downtown roads, sidewalks and building facades clean throughout the year.

Downtown Vision, Inc.’s Downtown Ambassadors work diligently picking up trash, sweeping sidewalks and pressure-washing public places seven days a week. Last year alone, the Ambassadors removed more than 2,500 bags of trash, swept more than 84,000 blocks, and pressure-washed 720 Downtown high-traffic and soiled areas. In addition, DVI manages the upkeep of Downtown hanging flower baskets and has furnished trash receptacles.

If you want to get in on the action to keep Downtown beautiful, here’s your chance. Join us this Saturday, April 20, for an Earth Day Downtown Clean-up organized by the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront, the City of Jacksonville, Keep Jacksonville Beautiful and DVI.

From 8-10 a.m., local businesses, residents and volunteers are invited to clean up the Northbank core: Jefferson to Liberty, Water to Church streets. Gloves, bags and other cleanup supplies will be provided by Keep Jacksonville Beautiful. Volunteers will also help survey Downtown streets, buildings and lots for graffiti or miscellaneous damage. After the clean-up, the fun continues at The Jacksonville Landing’s annual Earth Day and Ecology Fair.

Interested volunteers can meet at the front steps of The Landing, and all ages are welcome.