by: Admin in Events No Comments  

Thanks to JAX Chamber, beginning tomorrow local business professionals can gain a new viewpoint on Downtown Jacksonville – literally and figuratively. The Downtown Perspectives Series kicks off 5:30 p.m. tomorrow, Aug. 1, at the roof pool deck of the Omni Jacksonville Hotel.

This seven-week Downtown networking event series, which will rotate through a number of high-profile and unique top-floor viewing locations, will feature a brief talk by an invited guest on an aspect of Downtown revitalization or history and encourage proactive dialogue and creative thinking about Downtown Jacksonville.

“The event is an effort to take a look at Downtown from a different perspective,” said Tony Allegretti, director of Downtown engagement for JAX Chamber. “The unlikely locations are fun and inspiring. We also want folks to explore Downtown after the short presentations and meeting and greeting.”

Tomorrow’s installment will feature a short presentation from Christie Thompson Holechek, director Art in Public Places Jacksonville. Guests will be provided a list of Downtown activities available after the meet and greet.

“I would like to see the business community come together and learn a bit more about the great promise Downtown holds and take lots of photos of our amazing natural assets and unique built environment,” said Allegretti. “We’ve got a beautiful Downtown. It just takes some perspective.”

To RSVP (required), visit the JAX Chamber’s Facebook event page.

by: Admin in Advocacy No Comments  

The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens recently hosted an evening with business and community leaders to showcase the museum’s renovations and to discuss the museum’s larger role in Downtown revitalization efforts.

Hope McMath, the museum’s director said, “I think everybody’s always sort of envisioning that we need to strengthen the core of Downtown, which we do, and push [energy] out. I think we all owe Downtown the help of pushing it in.”

DVI Executive Director Terry Lorince

I could not agree more with Hope. Much of the energy within our core is driven through the arts – Art Walk, our museums, public art installations and people who genuinely appreciate what Downtown has to offer. I’d like to encourage more of our community leaders and arts advocates to embrace this mentality of “pushing energy into Downtown.”

Often times, it can be as simple as enjoying a dinner Downtown after a museum event. But rather than waiting for Downtown to organically reinvent itself, let’s take a more holistic approach and all work together to push positive energy into Downtown.

Read the full article,  Cummer kicks off grassroots effort to boost Downtown Jacksonville, on The Cummer’s efforts.

by: Admin in Thought Leadership No Comments  

In my 12 years of working Downtown, I have never, ever felt that my safety was threatened. This includes walking to garages by myself late at night and being here all hours of the day and weekend. Have I been panhandled? Yes, many times, just like I have in other Downtowns. Am I aware of my surroundings and always keep a look out? Absolutely, just like my mother taught me.

I bring this to your attention because we seem to have two different types of folks Downtown. One group, usually younger, is used to living in an urban environment, isn’t afraid of a panhandler and views Downtown as safe. On the other hand, we have many folks who are concerned about their safety, are afraid and uncomfortable around homeless and transient people, and feel threatened when panhandled.

I sometimes hear from men about how they won’t let their wives come Downtown. Most often, this reaction is a response to experiences with panhandlers or individuals with mental-heath issues, who sometimes shout or act oddly. We are fortunate that Downtown is one of the safest neighborhoods in Jacksonville, and we need your help to get the word out.

There are also two major facts that affect the perception of safety Downtown. The first, panhandling, is illegal Downtown. This is an easy one to address. The reality is every day I see people giving money to panhandlers. Politely, but firmly refuse panhandlers. If you want to help, donate money or time to a social service agency. The harder issue deals with is mental health, especially since Florida ranks 49th in mental-health funding. The solution here is to find people permanent housing with wrap-around services that will help them get the help they need. Which is why we are so very pleased that the 100 Homes Jacksonville has reached their milestone of helping 100 of the chronically homeless people find housing and is now moving on to helping an additional 100 chronically homeless. Moving forward, we intend to work with these groups to ensure that our chronic nuisance offenders find permanent supportive housing.

-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 Spotlight No Comments  

Local advocate and founder of the Jax Truckies, Mike Field described Dos Gatos perfectly, “If the devil ever opened a bar that featured fine handcrafted cocktails and other assorted debauchery, he’d probably summon the proprietors of Dos Gatos to give the dark lord advice on what to do.”

Recently recognized by The Guardian UK, Dos Gatos was named Top 10 bars in Florida.

The word “awesome” doesn’t do Dos Gatos justice because it’s so much more. If you haven’t experienced this bar, you need to put this on your to-do list immediately. While you’re at it, order the Le Pomme et Le Poire (say it in a French accent for full experience).Hear from the owner himself, Jason Albertelli:


How and when did Dos Gatos get started?

DG opened in 2009 and was the collaboration of years of thought and experience between myself and my wife, Joy.

Where did the name come from?

The name comes from the mural we discovered behind the bar when doing our build out.

What brought you Downtown?

We saw a similar Downtown renaissance in Los Angeles and saw the potential in Jacksonville to do the same.

Describe Dos Gatos. What was your goal with the vibe?

Rock n’ Roll cocktail lounge is the vibe. Within that, we focus on making great cocktails with superior service in a comfortable environment. We work hard to be Downtown’s neighborhood lounge, which is why we are open 365 days a year and provide a great product at a fair price.

Casey pouring drinks

What’s your favorite drink recipe?

My current favorite is The Kentuckian. I make a cardamom shrub (vinegar reduction basically) myself and add bourbon and some other magic. It’s serious business, but it’s fantastic.

What’s favorite thing about owning a Downtown bar?

We have a lot of fun. Jags games, concert after parties…we’re always rocking.

Dos Gatos

Other favorite thing about Downtown?

Eating. There’s a lot of solid choices, between Burrito Gallery, Indochine, Olio, Chomp Chomp, Pho. A Noodle Bar, La Cena…I could go on.

Besides owning Dos Gatos, what else do you do?

I own a tattoo parlor art The Jacksonville Landing, River City Tattoo, and I’m also the operating partner of The Shim Sham Room at Jacksonville Beach.

Anything else you want to add?

There’s more to come. Promise.

To stay up-to-date with Dos Gatos, follow them on Facebook.

There’s a building Downtown some believe is haunted. In three years’ time, three different ghost-hunting expeditions spent nights there – and one expedition detected something:

An apparition of a body sitting in balcony chair.

That apparition was detected at the Florida Theatre, one of Downtown’s most beautiful historic landmarks. If the walls of the Florida Theatre could talk, there would be some amazing stories to tell. Lucky for us, though, the Florida Theatre staff offers tours to the public. I had the opportunity to do so at a recent First Wednesday Art Walk.

This tour explores of the stage, backstage, the “green room,” dressing rooms, the promenade, the Barnett Room and the balcony. It’s awe-inspiring from start to finish. Here are a few fun facts about the venue that fascinate me most:

  • Elvis Presley performed at the Florida Theatre in 1956, one of his first headline concerts appearances on an indoor stage. The performance was the subject of a LIFE Magazine feature, and a local judge sat through the concert to make sure Presley’s dancing was not too suggestive.
  • When the Florida Theatre opened in 1927 as a movie theater, Forsyth Street was known as “theatre row,” with half a dozen other theaters nearby. The Florida Theatre is the only one remaining.
  • The theater is the city’s only remaining example of 1920s fantasy architecture and is one of only four remaining high-style movie “palaces” built in Florida during this period.
  • The theater was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
  • The back of the theater was originally open – no doors. After the Great Fire of 1901, many buildings were built in a way that large groups of people could exit quickly. Doors were not added until the 1980s restoration.
  • Every level of seating in the theater contains different types of chairs. Rocking chairs were once used, and the balcony seats are original.
  • Most ghost “activity” is said to take place in the projection booth. Speaking of the projection booth, the theater’s original projection equipment is used to screen the annual Summer Movie Classics series.
  • The theater’s Barnett Room was a fully functioning nursery from 1927-1952 for patrons’ children while parents enjoyed a theater show.
  • One of three original telephone booths just outside the theater doors still contains a telephone. Another houses an ATM; the other is used for storage.
  • The elevated theater boxes to the right and left of the stage are purely decorative and were never used for seating.
  • The architecture of the building has French, Italian and Moroccan influences.
  • Capitals of the columns upstairs contain carvings of dolphins – look closely, and you’ll find them.
  • The grapes on the vines just outside the theater doors are made of hand-blown glass, created especially for the theater in 1927.

Want to learn more? Take a tour: groups are invited to schedule a tour of the Florida Theatre; call 904-355-5661 for more information. Public tours are offered at the First Wednesday Art Walk. And, if you’re not faint of heart, stay tuned to the Florida Theatre website for future paranormal tours information.

It’s historic structures like the Florida Theatre that shine a light on the importance of historic preservation and show that with a little love and restoration, Downtown historic buildings can continue to tell great stories.

by: Admin in Thought Leadership No Comments  

I stride along with calm, with eyes, with shoes
With fury, with forgetfulness….

-Pablo Neruda

Navigating the urban environment on foot provides a variety of experiences and serves many purposes. As I walk to explore the urban core (and maybe beyond), I am challenged not to use planners-speak, but I won’t apologize if any seeps into my discussions overtime.

I talk about walkable communities and the pedestrian environment a lot because walking is the universal means of travel and the way in which we all begin and end all of our trips. The real measure of our urban neighborhoods is determined by how we feel when we are walking along the streets, in front of buildings, on the Riverwalk and through the parks. The pace and purpose of an urban walkabout will determine the proper selection of footwear.

According to the National Shoe Retailers Association, the footwear industries annual revenue is in the $48-billion range. Early civilizations did not wear shoes with fashion in mind, but urban core walkers sport many a fashionable shoe for almost any occasion.

Flats are always a practical choice and safe when trying to negotiate the variety of paving surfaces on our Downtown streets. The choice of paving materials – from concrete and brick to slate tiles and cobblestones – is a fundamental element of the public realm that reinforces the paths through the city. The path below your feet is defined by pattern, texture and color creating, perhaps, a temporal experience as you meander among the other elements such as foliage, lamp posts, storefronts and signage that create the image of the urban core. However, in addition to the aesthetic function of paving material, safety considerations are paramount in the public realm.

Indeed, some of the paving surfaces in the urban core are challenging, so I only walk in my high-heels for short jaunts, and I always carry around my handy flip-flops or tennies if there is serious distance to cover at a fast pace. And I never forget my rain boots for Art Walk.

Show off your shoes. If you walk Downtown, we want to see your footwear of choice, and let us know the most precarious place to navigate on foot. Submit your photo.


by: Admin in Spotlight No Comments  

Like many good beginnings, the idea started on a cocktail napkin.

Brian Eisele, Duane DeCastro and Jason Hunnicutt

1904 Music Hall was the idea of three friends: Brian Eisele, Duane DeCastro and Jason Hunnicutt. They wanted to open a bar and focus on what they loved – live music and beer. Brian has a passion for quality beer, and Jason and Duane have musical backgrounds, so the power of the trio was the perfect combination for a new establishment Downtown.

You’ll find at least one of them behind the bar working each night. Stop in to get to know the guys and enjoy a cold one but, until then, read what Jason has to say about the bar and Downtown:

What brought you Downtown?

We looked at several locations before deciding on Downtown Jacksonville. We had options in Riverside, San Marco, Murray Hill and Springfield. Downtown just seemed to be the best fit with the historic buildings and tons of space to do what we wanted. In most major metropolitan cities, Downtown is the hub for entertainment and activity. In the early half of the 20th Century Downtown Jacksonville was a bustling entertainment hub with amazing national musicians and artists frequently stopping through. We saw the potential to bring our Downtown back to her former glory. We felt in some way Downtown Jacksonville needed us as much as we needed it.

What was your goal with 1904 Music Hall, and what’s the vibe like?

1904 Music Hall is a multipurpose room that takes pride in offering a unique environment for numerous entertainment needs. While our main focus is showcasing amazing live music, our room can lend itself to many different types of events and configurations depending on the need. In addition to an amazing stage, lighting and sound system, we feature an extensive beer and wine menu to be enjoyed either inside or in our outdoor courtyard. Our goal is to continue to bring great music Downtown as well as build the rest of Jacksonville’s awareness that there is a burgeoning entertainment district Downtown like nothing else Jacksonville has experienced.

Since 1904 Music Hall has been open, what’s your favorite show?

Brian – Any show Chroma has played
Duane – Emancipator
Jason – Bass in the City Music Festival

Aurora App’s Show at 1904

What’s your favorite thing about owning a bar Downtown?

The great thing about owning a bar Downtown is the camaraderie with the other bars and restaurant owners. We are all independent small business owners who know and respect the hard work it takes to keep our doors open. Most places would see this as competition, but the situation in Downtown Jacksonville is a bit different. I think we all agree that more people Downtown is good for everyone’s business. As Downtown grows and succeeds, we all rise with the tide. The Elbow entertainment district can be seen as a testament to the collaborative efforts of all the bar owners coming together for a bigger goal of getting people Downtown.

What are your other favorite things to do Downtown?

Other favorite things we enjoy doing Downtown are Art Walks, football and baseball games, Community First Saturdays and, of course, frequenting other bars and clubs for drinks and entertainment.

What do you do besides working at 1904 Music Hall?

Brian spends his time restoring his historic home he just bought in Riverside. Duane owns a manufacturing company as well as a health food and produce store called Kin Green Market. I am a Downtown resident and I enjoy playing music. I also own a natural gardening and hydroponic supply shop called Urban Organics in San Marco.

What’s next for 1904 Music Hall?

We are making plans to add a deck and seating in the courtyard behind the bar for the fall. We are also in the process of expanding our beer and wine selection and opening for happy hour during the week.

Anything else you’d like to add?


For more information on 1904 Music Hall – including upcoming events – visit and check out its Facebook.