by: Terry Lorince in Thought Leadership No Comments  
Terry Lorince, DVI executive director

Terry Lorince, DVI executive director

We’ve all heard it: a colleague, friend or family-member exclaims, “It’s too hard to park Downtown.”

But what most people don’t know is we have more parking spaces in Downtown Jacksonville than four of the five Walt Disney World parks combined – more than 43,000 public parking. Walt Disney World has 32,539 spaces. It’s a pretty neat statistic and makes a great response the next time you’re conversing with someone who has a negative perception on parking.

Here are some other facts to equip yourself with to help improve this perception of parking Downtown:

  • There are more than 1,600 metered spaces, which are free after 6 p.m. and on weekends and holidays.
  • downtownjacksonville.org has a great parking map with rates if you’re looking to park in a garage or lot.
  • Downtown’s average monthly parking costs are 45% less than the national average.

Where else can you go see a world-class orchestra, Broadway shows or top acts at The Florida Theatre and park for free a block or two away? From my own experience, I never pay for parking when we come for a performance Downtown because I welcome a short stroll.

Besides the facts and figures, parking Downtown is a different mindset. What Downtown may lack in curbside parking convenience, it more than makes up for in the walkable experience. While you may have to park a block or two away from your destination, a stroll through the streets of Downtown will reward you with increased social interaction, street-level exploration, and even creative inspiration, not to mention health and stress relief benefits.

Lastly, help us keep Downtown safe. Remember to lock your car, and stow all valuables – even loose change – when you park Downtown to avoid crimes of opportunity. It will take all of us to help shift this negative perception of parking, and encourage people to walk a block Downtown!

-A message from the executive director, Terry Lorince

 

Oct. updateRead the full “Downtown 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.

by: Katherine Hardwick in Uncategorized No Comments  

Three months ago, DVI decided to throw it’s first block party: an Oktoberfest during the First Wednesday Art Walk. We planned, we promoted. We called in favors, we called in experts.

IMG_6161 And something special happened. Faces new and old came by the thousands to dance in the street to Dan Witcuki and Mein Heimatland Musikanten Band. To dine on German-inspired dishes from Ruth’s Chris, bb’s, Fionn MacCool’s Irish Restaurant and Pub and Bottega di Bella Sera by Liz Grenamyer. And to drink beer: German beer, local beer, witbier and Oktoberfest beer.

By our estimates, Oktoberfest doubled the average attendance of Art Walk, bringing out 15,000 people and making it the best attended event to date. The artists who set up at Headquarters @ Hemming Plaza saw increased sales, several reporting they doubled their average sales figures. But it didn’t stop there. The energy spilled over, as Art Walk-goers explored the surrounding merchants.

IMG_6180It was opening night for Downtown’s newest clothing retailer, Grease Rags, which sold approximately 30% of their merchandise that night. Chamblin’s Uptown reported the largest crowds to date. Even blocks away in The Elbow, the restaurant Olio broke their sales records.

Since November 2003, DVI has cultivated this free community event to celebrate the art scene of Downtown Jacksonville, the importance of building and maintaining walkable communities, and our continued mission to revitalize the heart of the River City. So, mark your calendar to celebrate with us as we “Cheers to 10 Years,” at the November 6th Art Walk.

We will continue to open new doors and new eyes with this free community event, but we need your help. To keep the momentum going, DVI has launched a community funding initiative to kick off the next ten years. Businesses looking to get involved can view our sponsorship information and download the kit here.

Lastly, we would like to thank our Oktoberfest sponsors: 6th Sense Solutions, Production Service Group (PSG), Reddi-Arts, Make Believe Costumes and Dancewear and the Girl Scouts of Gateway Council, plus our more than 50 volunteers for helping make our first-ever block party a huge success! Prost!

by: Jennifer Hewett-Apperson in Placemaking 1 Comment  
A created wetland area at Brooklyn Bridge Park.

A created wetland area at Brooklyn Bridge Park.

The question of how the 40-acre Shipyards property should be redeveloped has been discussed for many years in Jacksonville. Should it be filled with high-end residential towers? Should it be a public park? Should it be an entertainment destination? Should it be some combination of these? A project with similar characteristics exists in New York City, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and should be seen as a great example of what could be at the Shipyards.

Much like Downtown Jacksonville’s Shipyards parcel, Brooklyn Bridge Park was previously a waterfront industrial site. At 85 acres, it is a little more than twice the size of the Shipyards.

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Granite stairs double as a small riverfront amphitheater.

While the city and state provided funding for the construction of the park, a memorandum of understanding between the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation and the City of New York mandated the park be economically self-sufficient and generate revenue to pay for ongoing maintenance and operations. This means, in addition to park concessions, private development is a part of the long-term strategy for Brooklyn Bridge Park. It should be noted development parcels are limited to 20 percent of total park area and are largely on the upland perimeter of the park, with the majority of the riverfront preserved for public uses.

The public spaces include a mixture of active and passive uses (i.e. ballfields vs. open space). Additionally, wetland areas along the riverfront were recreated, and traditional bulkhead walls replaced with riprap, which were important in mitigating effects of Hurricane Sandy last year. There is a small amphitheater built into a riverfront hillside as well as lawns, a carousel and event space. Public art is also an important component of the park and includes both permanent sculpture pieces and temporary art and photography exhibits along construction fences.

The Fence at Brooklyn Bridge Park provides temporary art exhibit space.

The Fence at Brooklyn Bridge Park provides temporary art exhibit space.

The result of this blending of public and private uses is a self-sustaining park that is truly a legacy piece for the citizens of New York City.  Jacksonville’s leaders could learn from this exemplary model as redevelopment talks of Downtown’s Shipyards parcel move forward.

by: abruno in Events 1 Comment  

Trick-or-treat-promo

Downtown workers have a chance to relive their childhood on Halloween at Trick or Treat on the Street. From 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., participating businesses and restaurants will be set up either inside or outside their storefronts, handing out candy, coupons and other promotional goodies.

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Obviously, the DVI staff encourages costumes and creativity! This is a great opportunity to get out of the office, snag some Halloween goodies and meet your Downtown neighbors!

trick or treat mapNot listed:
Jacob’s Jewelers | 204 N. Laura St.
Edwards & Cavendish Dentistry | 137 W. Adams St.
Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, Inc. | 126 W. Adams St.

Don’t forget about the other great events happening Downtown on Halloween!

Mad Science Halloween Party
Haunted Harbor
Florida Theatre Paranormal Tour
Downtown’s Biggest Halloween Party
Burro Bar Halloween Party
Off With Your Head Party

by: tdurandstuebben in Resident Spotlights No Comments  

Blog_Main Street Walking

In between my official business meeting calendar, I also schedule in public meetings regarding the Downtown Investment Authority, Redevelopment Committee Meetings and others focused on Downtown advocacy.  There is a renewed sense of interest and excitement by many, and their passions are diverse.

Most will agree that an important ingredient to rejuvenate our Downtown is increasing the number of residents. When this subject is approached, the same debate erupts: “…we need more retail to attract residents…but commercial retailers want residents in place before coming on line….”   There is a lot of talk, but I challenge those advocates to walk the talk and become a Downtown resident.

Regarding walking, it’s one of the many outstanding benefits of living Downtown and a personal favorite for me. I can walk one block to pick up take-out dinner from  b.b.’s, walk across the street to jump on the water taxi for a quick ride over to EverBank Field on game day and, for unwinding after work, a walk along Friendship Fountain and the Main Street Bridge.

On the subject of a walkable community, in less than two weeks, Dr. Richard Jackson, MD, MPH, professor and chair of environmental health science at the UCLA School of Public Health, will visit Downtown. At a November 7 American Institute of Architects Jacksonville chapter event at WJCT Studios, Jackson will discuss community design and how it relates to burgeoning health costs and what citizens need to do about this crisis by looking upstream for innovative solutions. I encourage you to attend.

First step: get people walking! Get people walking Downtown – and ‘walking the talk’ on Downtown.

by: Admin in Business Spotlights 1 Comment  
Grease Rags Clothing Company owner Cindy Platt

Grease Rags Clothing Company owner Cindy Platt

The newest addition to the Laura Street corridor, Grease Rags Clothing Co. owner Cindy Platt is thrilled to be part of the Downtown neighborhood. We recently chatted with Platt about her inspiration behind her new shop, and why Downtown was the only place Grease Rags would call home:

How did the idea for Grease Rags Clothing Co. come about?

For a long time, I was bothered by not being able to find things I like anywhere in Jacksonville. I also don’t enjoy buying clothing or shoes online.  If something arrives and doesn’t fit, I never send it back and becomes a total waste of money. I could look around and see lots of other people wearing things I knew they could have only purchased online. I woke up one morning with the entire concept and, two months later, here we are!

Describe what your shop offers customers.

Our shop offers a unique selection of clothing and shoes for women and men as well as select home goods and personal care items. Our main focus is on the pinup/hotrod/rockabilly culture, but I have a love for anything retro. You might see the influence of punk, disco or the ’80s at any given time.

Where are you from originally, and what is your professional background?

I’m a third generation native of Jacksonville. When I was younger, I thought anywhere else would be better than Jacksonville. Now you couldn’t pay me to leave.

My background is quite varied. I have worked in the printing industry, did the obligatory stint in retail and was also a makeup artist for a number of years. Most recently, I spent 12 years at Bank of America, where I started as a personal banker. I quickly worked my way up to vice president and became a senior change manager and anti-money laundering specialist for the Global Commercial Banking division. Ultimately, I resigned due to what I thought were stress related issues, which turned out to be cancer. That’s a whole other story in itself.

photo (25)Why did you choose to open your shop Downtown?

Being from Jacksonville, I was very familiar with all of my options. I wanted to be in an area that had room for growth, and I was looking for a certain edgy feel. The only area that met my requirements was Downtown. When I did a search for commercial space for rent and my favorite block was at the top of the list, I knew I made the right choice.

Since opening, what have you discovered that you love about owning a shop Downtown?

I love the relationships I’ve built with the other merchants and how I never know who will walk in my door. I love seeing the growth constantly happening in the small-business arena and how there’s always something art-related to enjoy. But I think mostly I love standing outside the shop late in the evening – not really doing anything but talking with my husband or one of my fellow merchants. There’s always a breeze and music coming from somewhere. I find it very peaceful and grounding.

For those looking to open a business Downtown, what would you say to them?

I would say now is the time to do it. Get in here, and be a part of the change you want to see in our city. Without small business, all revitalization efforts will go to waste. Was I a little nervous? Absolutely! But if you don’t try, you will always wonder if it could’ve worked.

photo (24)What’s next for Grease Rags?

We survived our first Art Walk and are super excited about November’s Art Walk. We will have a live rockabilly band, Beau and The Burners, from 6-9 p.m. and (hopefully) some more of Lucky’s delicious cupcakes to hand out.

I hope to have our online shop up and running soon. We will be adding Switchblade Stiletto, Hearts and Roses, and Blue Q to our brand lineup by mid-November. We will continue to stock Lucky 13, Rock Steady, Sourpuss, T.U.K. Shoes and POO-POURRI.

Anything else to add?

I feel very lucky/blessed/happy to be living a life I love. None of this would be possible without the support of my loving husband, Justin Hammack. He makes my dreams come true!

For more information on Grease Rags Clothing Co., ‘like’ its Facebook page. The shop is located at 40 W. Monroe St., just off Laura Street.

by: Katherine Hardwick in Spotlight No Comments  

Based on a demonstration project between DVI and local entrepreneurs in 2011, CoWork Jax opened its doors on January 26, 2012, to create Jacksonville’s first co-working community with a simple mission of offering entrepreneurs and small businesses an environment to collaborate, conspire and grow.

 

It’s a formula that not only fosters local entrepreneurs and small businesses, but fosters Downtown growth as well. To date, 15 companies with nearly 90 employees have grown out of CoWork Jax. Companies such as: Ignite, Content Design Group, Digital Edge Marketing , Sports Yapper, One Spark and KYN have all outgrown their CoWork spaces and have relocated, leasing office space in Downtown and surrounding neighborhoods.

The three founders of CoWork Jax, Varick Rosete, Dennis Eusebio and Elton Rivas, developed and launched the inaugural five-day One Spark innovation festival at CoWork. This festival, of course, went on to bring more than 500 creators and 130,000 patrons Downtown and had an estimated economic impact in the tens of millions in its first year. In turn, Northeast Florida’s first business accelerator program, KYN, was imagined here. Selecting four companies from the One Spark Festival, KYN will nurture and develop these companies to grow their businesses Downtown through a 16-week boot-camp-style curriculum designed to validate business models, and scale the companies while attracting additional investment to their businesses.

Today, CoWork boasts more than 100 members and 50 “alumni” members. Approximately 20 participants and program managers are regularly working out of the space, and CoWork is the home of Healthbox Florida’s first cohort of seven companies. An average of 850 unique people come through CoWork’s doors each month, including: members, event and meeting attendees, clients, colleagues, family, and friends.

CoWork Jax has proven itself as a laboratory for fresh innovative thinking, and also as a great vehicle to help revitalize Downtown Jacksonville.