by: abruno in Spotlight No Comments  

On the corner of Bay and Ocean streets, next door to the historic Bostwick Building, there’s an office space that brings something extra special to Downtown Jacksonville. With high ceilings, exposed brick walls and three conceptual masterminds, animation studio Dripsblack has entered the Downtown creative scene with a bang.

Shane Douberly and Bill Waller are a dynamic duo that have been creating together for years. New addition Laura Adams is helping the studio spread its wings in the Downtown community. The trio spoke not only of Downtown as a location, but also as a pool of innovative talent and potential. We remarked on the beauty and space of their new location (a far cry from their previous bantam “bedroom” office in Riverside) and the collaborative power of Downtown.

“There’s a lot of neat creative energy here, I’m really impressed,” said Bill.

The passion that these three share for their craft is contagious. They create more than cartoons and commercials – they make moving art, short films that communicate each client’s message beautifully.

They found this stunning space by chance; they had their eyes on a couple of different properties Downtown and in Riverside at the time. Bill and Shane were taking a stroll around the urban core, describing their ideal office, when they walked past this Bay Street location.

Real estate karma was in their favor that day. It fit their laundry list: a great location, much larger than their previous cramped conditions, and also happened to have a For Lease sign on the window. The rest, as they say, is history. They were in the space and making their mark Downtown in time for their Citrus Cel Animation Film Festival April 4-6.

These days, Shane, Bill and Laura are hopeful and excited about the future of an even more visionary Downtown. They laud Downtown nightlife and fellow creative agencies around them. The phrase “more of that” came up a lot in our conversation, and I was reminded of the City of Jacksonville’s More of This, Less of That campaign. If the Dripsblack team were to take pictures of what they want more of Downtown, you would see film and television production studios, more collaboration among creators in the urban core, and more high-caliber artwork being showcased.

The Dripsblack trio seems to be in agreement that Downtown is on the verge of something huge.

“We’re a part of something that’s about to explode,” said Shane. “We need dedicated, passionate people to make it happen.”

Check out Dripsblack’s impressive portfolio on their website, and be prepared to spend more time than you anticipated perusing their work, now homegrown right here in our creative Downtown.


by: Admin in Thought Leadership 1 Comment  

Angela Bruno, DVI Intern

Before I began working Downtown, I never ventured into the urban core for a night on the town or a day of fun. Aside from my contentment in my Southside “bubble,” I was terrified I would have to park my car miles away from my final destination, forcing me to trek through an unfamiliar urban wilderness. I had visions of wandering through a maze of buildings for hours until eventually collapsing from dehydration. I was a wimp, and I never ventured from my neighborhood to Downtown.

Now, with six months of Downtown strolling, parking, eating and event-going under my belt, I write today to those still stuck in your respective “bubbles.” You can do it! Here’s why:

Misconception: “There’s nowhere to park Downtown.”
Reality: Parking is aplenty!

Downtown Jacksonville has more than 43,000 public parking spaces. For a frame of reference, Walt Disney World has 32,539. This number includes Magic Kingdom, Epcot, MGM Studios, Typhoon Lagoon and Pleasure Island.

If, like me, you’re a little forgetful, don’t fear! There’s an app for that. Apps like iPark and G-Park will remember where you leave your car, so you won’t have to wander. Or you can always go “old fashioned,” and call our friends in orange: the Downtown Ambassadors are experts in all things Downtown, and will escort you to your car in a flash! For more information on where and when you can park Downtown, visit DVI’s parking database and FAQs.

Misconception: “Once I finally find an elusive parking spot, I’ll have to walk forever to get to my final destination.”
Reality: Downtown Jacksonville is extremely walkable!

If you’re from my neck of the woods, you shop at the St. John’s Town Center a lot. Say you walk from Target to Maggiano’s – that would be equivalent to walking from the Museum of Contemporary Art to Burrito Gallery at .2 miles.


If you find yourself at the Duval County Courthouse at lunchtime, you can also stroll over to Big Pete’s Pizzeria with even fewer steps.

Or maybe you have to park at Publix and walk to my favorite place at Town Center: DSW Shoe Warehouse. That is a half-mile walk, similar to walking from the Main Library to Olio Market.


If you’re familiar with Jacksonville Beach, you know that walking from Joe’s Crab Shack to Lynch’s Irish Pub is a quick trip: only .4 miles. Perhaps you’re Downtown and have a hankering for Guinness and a shepherd’s pie: from the parking garage at Clay and Adams to Fionn MacCool’s Irish Pub at the Jacksonville Landing is the same distance.


The Bubble
Misconception: There’s nothing Downtown that I can’t get closer to my neighborhood.
Reality: There’s no place like Downtown!

A major factor in my unwillingness to venture Downtown was simply because I was comfortable in my bubble. I ate at chain restaurants, shopped where everyone else around me shopped, and never thought about supporting local businesses.

But then again, why settle for “comfortable,” when Downtown Jacksonville is vibrant, unique and exciting? Where else in Jacksonville can you sip an Intuition beer while perusing millions of used books like in Chamblin’s Uptown and Café?  Sure, you could have the same boring meal for lunch every day, or you could explore Downtown’s many quirky offerings for lunchtime fare, including Chomp Chomp and Pho. A Noodle Bar. Even the nightlife offerings Downtown are dynamic and distinct, including The Elbow venues and The Volstead, a brand new whiskey lounge set to open this August. These aren’t your average, run-of-the-mill businesses, and they’re only Downtown.


Has your “bubble” been burst yet? Don’t be scared to park your car, take a stroll, grab a meal and Explore the More!


by: Admin in Placemaking No Comments  

“I love this city, and I’m doing what I can to make it a better place.”
-Artist Shaun Thurston

It’s not a far stretch of the imagination to believe art has a positive affect on communities. In a recently released video, local artist Shaun Thurston shares through his own words – and artwork – why public art matters.

“Artwork, I hope, makes people feel inspired,” he says. “It can make them feel loved and appreciated, and that can add to a sense of community.” The video chronicles the spring installation of Thurston‘s mural above Chamblin’s Uptown & Cafe on Laura Street, as part of DVI’s Laura Street Facade Grant Program in conjunction with the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville‘s “Art in Public Places” initiative:

DVI’s Laura Street Façade Grant Program, a matching grant program established in 2011 to provide economic incentive for property and business owners to improve building facades and storefronts. – See more at:
a matching grant program established in 2011 to provide economic incentive for property and business owners to improve building facades and storefronts. – See more at:
a matching grant program established in 2011 to provide economic incentive for property and business owners to improve building facades and storefronts. – See more at:

According to the American Society of Landscape Architects, public art fosters community appreciation and attachment:

 “The Knight Foundation’s Soul of the Community initiative surveyed some 43,000 people in 43 cities and found that “social offerings, openness and welcome-ness,” and, importantly, the “aesthetics of a place – its art, parks, and green spaces,” ranked higher than education, safety, and the local economy as a “driver of attachment.” Indeed, the same story may be playing out locally in Philly: a survey of local residents found that viewing public art was the 2nd most popular activity in the city, ranking above hiking and biking.”

With Downtown Jacksonville’s public art boom underway, we’re one step – and a few murals – closer to a more robust city center. For even more progress on North Florida’s largest art gallery, known simply as “Downtown Jacksonville,” check out the Yates parking garage photo gallery.

by: Katherine Hardwick in Spotlight No Comments  

There’s a flourishing district within a district in our Downtown that you may not be aware of. A creative cluster of marketing agencies, photography and illustration studios and design firms has sprung up within The Elbow, Downtown’s nightlife and entertainment district.

One staple of this creative district is The Connect Agency, owned and operated by veteran marketer and DVI board member, John Ream. Take some time to talk to John about his Downtown experience and you’ll learn that his slice of Downtown—a beautiful brick building along Bay Street—has proven just as flexible as his agency’s approach to marketing and communications solutions.

John bought the building in 2005 at 131 E. Bay Street, during the excitement and anticipation leading up to the Super Bowl. Looking past the plaster walls, drop down ceilings and green shag carpet while touring the space, he was drawn to the brick walls, wooden beams and floors that lay beneath. Creative by nature, he envisioned what the space could become. And, during the Super Bowl, John sold barbeque, beer and wine out of the first floor to help generate revenue for the renovations.

For three years, John and his family lived in the contemporary, urban space. For a time he rented out the first floor to a shop called Foolish Boutique, which operates nowadays as Icon Boutique just three blocks away. Living Downtown, John would bump into all kinds of activities. “Until you live here, you don’t know all there is to do,” he says. And as someone who enjoys exploring, the lively lifestyle was a perfect fit.

In 2009, John formed his own marketing agency and reinvented the space to house his office. Specializing in strategy and a client-customized approach, John looks to the creative district and Downtown environment to keep his ideas fresh. A short walk to one of the cultural venues, like Southlight Gallery, to take in some art provides a fresh perspective. A lunchtime jog along the riverfront relieves stress. Being steps away from various Happy Hour options doesn’t hurt either.

And about working near other creative shops? He enjoys the all the shoptalk and believes sharing insights and trends helps to knock down silos in which firms often work. According to John, the Madison Avenue model of large advertising agencies is changing. Small shops like Connect Agency, and others in the creative district offer great flexibility, and “mind share” collaboration creates a better product for their clients.

John at work in his flexible, creative office space.

His clients are often surprised on their first trip to the agency: ‘They often say, “I never knew space like this existed Downtown.”’ They enjoy the energy and nostalgia of Downtown. They like the perks of a walkable business district, and the options of lunch places that you can’t find anywhere else, like Chomp Chomp.

With eight years of Downtown experience under his belt—as a Downtown property owner, small business owner and resident—John believes we’re on the cusp of something big. One key for Downtown’s success will be The Elbow, with its bars and restaurants and live music is creating a great entertainment culture Downtown. Another will be connecting all of the areas of activity. And at the end of the day, word-of-mouth marketing for Downtown, the kind we can all do, is crucial. “It takes the people who are already Downtown sharing their experiences to bring more people Downtown,” he says.

Stay tuned as we share more spotlights from the creative district, and help spread the word on Downtown by sharing your favorite experiences here.

by: Admin in Thought Leadership No Comments  

Recently, you might have seen some major changes occurring near the Andrew Jackson statue in front of The Jacksonville Landing. On a hot June 1, more than 30 volunteers came Downtown to weed, dig and plant new flowers in the median islands and the roundabout along Water and Laura streets.

While the project is not yet completed, this group of individuals from the Late Bloomers Garden Club, Greenscape of Jacksonville and the City of Jacksonville Parks Department worked hard to make Downtown more attractive. We need to grow more volunteer efforts like this in our Downtown. Next time you see trash laying on the sidewalks, take a moment to pick it up and toss it in a trashcan. Volunteer for a block clean up. Place a container of flowers outside of your building and leave a few lights on in your storefronts at night. Together, it’s a thousand little things like these that help create the type of neighborhood we want to spend time in.

I’d like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Neely Towe, Peggy Bryan, Barbara Ketchum, Anna Dooley, Kelly Boree and lots of other volunteers for giving Downtown some love! If you’d like to give Downtown some love, give us a call – we’re developing a list of projects and could use your help: 904-634-0303, ext. 221.

-A message from the Executive Director, Terry Lorince



Read the fullDowntown Jacksonville Update to learn about what’s happening Downtown in the realm of news, initiatives, developments and more. And if you haven’t already signed up for this monthly e-newsletter, sign-up to have all future Updates sent directly to your email inbox.

-A message from the Executive Director, Terry Lorince


Read the fullDowntown Jacksonville Update to learn about what’s happening Downtown in the realm of news, initiatives, developments and more. And if you haven’t already signed up for this monthly e-newsletter, sign-up to have all future Updates sent directly to your email inbox.

– See more at:

by: Admin in Thought Leadership No Comments  

Enjoying views of the Arno River.

I recently returned home from the trip of a lifetime.

In a series of events that can only be filed under “Luckiest Girl Alive,” I was able to spend 10 days wandering around Florence and Rome with my boyfriend and his family. I came back cultured, educated and a couple pounds heavier but also with a fresh appreciation for Downtown Jacksonville.

We spent a full week of our trip in Florence. For those of you that napped through a few art history classes like I did, here’s a refresher course:

Florence was the birthplace of the Renaissance. The population of metropolitan Florence is similar to Jacksonville, approximately 1.5 million. Like Jacksonville, it is a river city. Built around the Arno River, multiple bridges span the water. For a brief stint in the 1860s, it was the capital of Italy.

Browsing masterpieces in the Bargello National Museum.

Florence is believed to have the greatest concentration of art in the world. The home of Galileo and da Vinci, the city is saturated in history, science, sculptures and frescoes. It was a strange phenomenon for me to see such magnificent works of the human ability juxtaposed with modern conveniences. Next to palaces that used to house Italian royalty are touristy T-shirt carts and overpriced cafès. Fiats and Vespas speed down streets once reserved for the Medici family. Italian school children listlessly scroll through iPhones while on field trips to the most venerated art museums in the world.

I found myself intrigued by these students. They were napping in Loggia dei Lanzi and painting their nails in the Boboli Gardens. Why were they not in awe like I was? I became enchanted by everything around me. I felt like a Disney character, wide-eyed and whimsical, meandering through galleries and museums and cathedrals. But these kids were just on another field trip, probably one they’d been on every year since primary school. They rolled their eyes and listened to their iPods. It baffled me.

But then it occurred to me after my Italian fairy tale had ended that maybe I’m not as reverent about Downtown Jacksonville as I should be. If we all look at our city from an outsider’s perspective, it is a beautiful place to be. How often do we drive to work over the Main Street Bridge as the sun is coming up and just curse the traffic jam? How many times do we walk past a public art piece on our way to lunch without a second look? When was the last time we walked along the river at night, looking at the lights of Downtown like a tourist in our own city?

This weekend, take a trip Downtown and look at our city with a fresh pair of eyes. Check out our events calendar, and try something new. A little whimsy is available around every corner.


– Angela Bruno, DVI Intern

by: Admin in Placemaking No Comments  

The saying goes that colors brighten any room. The same can be said about public art Downtown. The recent addition of several public art installations Downtown have brightened bare exterior walls of businesses, brought life back to façades of vacant historic buildings and transformed familiar walkways’ fences, sidewalks and trees.

Yates garage mural installation underway June 7.

The latest in this public art boom on the heels of One Spark are the Yates parking garage murals, currently under installation at the corner of Market and Newnan streets. New murals will be constructed on each of the four 52-foot stair towers of the garage and are the newest addition to the City of Jacksonville’s Art in Public Places collection, administered by the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville.

The first two murals, by Northeast Florida artists Felici Asteinza and Joey Fillastre of Milagros Art Collective, are abstract designs best seen by drivers from the Hart Bridge Expressway. Neptune Beach artist Sean Mahan will create figurative and symbolic images on the remaining two murals geared toward pedestrian traffic.

Sean Mahan mural concept (left), alongside Felici Asteinza and Joey Fillastre of Milagros Art Collective’s abstract mural.

According to the official press release, the murals will create a visual connection to accessible public parking and serve as an entry point into the Spark District, a new Cultural Council initiative to revitalize Downtown’s core through arts and culture projects.

The Spark District spans from the riverfront north to Duval Street and is bordered east to west from Liberty Street to Hogan Street and is meant to serve as a canvas for Spark Grant Program beneficiaries. The Spark Grant Program anticipates awarding $5,000-$25,000 to approximately eight visual arts projects from a pool of $60,000 this year. For more information, view the Spark Grant video or visit the Cultural Council’s website.

Public art is an important initiative for any Downtown working toward revitalization as it enhances the street-level experience, creates and inspires effective public place-making and improves the quality of life for Downtown workers, residents and visitors.

If you’re interested in checking out the Yates garage murals’ installations, the artists are scheduled to paint at the site 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through July 6.