by: Admin in Events, Spotlight 1 Comment  

For nearly 30 years every December, the holiday tree rising above The Jacksonville Landing‘s riverfront courtyard has brightened Downtown and the spirits of the community. The tradition continues this weekend when The Landing’s iconic holiday tree is lit for the 27th time. Friday, Nov. 29, thousands of people are expected to attend the live-broadcasted 27th Annual Christmas on the St. Johns Tree Lighting Ceremony, celebrating this seasonal Downtown landmark.

IMG_8012“It’s Jacksonville’s tree – we never look at it as The Landing tree,” said Michael Chambliss, The Landing’s director of marketing. “We’ve always been proud of the tradition. It’s something to get people to come Downtown and enjoy Downtown.”

The first 21 years of this Downtown tradition, The Landing used a real tree from the Carolinas. Since then, in an effort to “go green,” The Landing now hosts an artificial tree that dazzles from the inside out, as DVI discovered through an invitation to climb inside. The interior of the tree cone houses computers and speakers that operate the Synchronized Nightly Tree Light Shows. Here are some impressive facts about “Jacksonville’s tree,” by the numbers:

  • photo 3 (1)50-foot tree with a 6-foot star, topping out the landmark at 56 feet
  • 78,000 LED lights in two sizes
  • 32 rings of branches
  • 4 strands of lights on each branch with 4 colors: red, green, white and multi-colored
  • 4 miles of power cables
  • 7 computers inside the tree that operate the light shows; one computer for every color except multi-colored, which requires three computers
  • 4 speakers inside the tree that play holiday music

This year, the Synchronized Nightly Tree Light Shows feature all new shows and music – three 10-minute performances of varied music and light patterns. After Friday’s lighting ceremony, the shows begin each evening at 6 p.m. and run in a loop through 9 p.m. weekdays and midnight on weekends.

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Interior of “Jacksonville’s tree.”

Light shows and the ceremonial tree lighting just scratch the surface of what The Landing has planned for the holidays. This Saturday, Nov. 30, about 150,000 are expected to pack The Landing and the Northbank and Southbank Riverwalk for the popular Jacksonville Light Boat Parade and Fireworks Spectacular.

“People are so festive,” Chambliss said. “This is what kicks off the holidays for everybody.”

In addition, Landing events such as Chanukah at The Landing, the 19th Annual Tuba Christmas and the Holiday on the River Dance and Concert Series are big hits every December. For a full list of Downtown holiday events across all Downtown venues, visit DVI’s website events calendar.

Happy holidays! Don’t miss the fun Downtown offers all ages this season.

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

Terry Lorince, DVI executive director

Happy holidays!

Many people are surprised to hear that, for the past few years, I’ve bought most of my Christmas presents for friends and family Downtown. What could be easier than walking out of the office and loading up on children’s toys from the Toy Factory, jewelry from Hemming Plaza Jewelers, gift certificates to Daniel James Salon, hard-to-find books from Chamblin’s Uptown, and tickets to great shows and sporting events? The numerous options make my shopping as easy as can be. Plus, I get to support Downtown and Downtown’s more than 100 retailers. Here are some ways you can support Downtown and go local this holiday season:

Shop Downtown: Cash in on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday deals. Where else can you shop, dine, and enjoy the Main Library and museums before finishing the day with a riverfront holiday tradition? Black Friday shoppers can head to The Jacksonville Landing for the 27th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony and Small Business Saturday shoppers can top off the day with Jacksonville Light Boat Parade and Fireworks Spectacular. More on holiday discounts and deals below.

Walk Downtown: Stroll down to the First Wednesday Art Walk to celebrate the holidays in Downtown. With hundreds of artists and nine galleries, you’re sure to find quirky and artsy gift ideas while supporting local artists. Visit for the skinny.

Play Downtown: There’s still time to book your office holiday parties Downtown. DVI keeps an ongoing database of more than 100 places you can host an event Downtown, from historic buildings to rooftops to riverfront venues. We have options to suit every need.

-A message from the executive director, Terry Lorince

Screen shot 2013-11-27 at 12.14.30 PMRead 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.

Jax Connector from Greenhouse Studio on Vimeo.

Jacksonville is a city unlike any other. Her large boundaries capture dozens of unique neighborhoods. Geographically extensive, culturally rich and naturally beautiful, sometimes the attributes that set Jacksonville apart are the attributes that pull her residents apart.

Seventeen miles and two major bodies of water separate Jacksonville hot spots at the Beaches and The Elbow. Locals aren’t just missing out on the newest bar or their favorite band Downtown – they aren’t experiencing the full spectrum of Jacksonville.

Sometimes, we want to step outside of our comfort zones. Sometimes, we want to explore our hometown. Sometimes, we want a different view.

Sometimes, people see a problem and work together for a solution.

The folks at Void Magazine and The Elbow look at the gap between these two areas of town and see a big-picture solution: The Connector. The Connector will be a private transportation solution, a bus service connecting the 17 miles between these two cultural points on Jacksonville’s map.

Here are the nitty-gritty details of this endeavor:

  • Two luxury buses will make a circuit across this divide, with stops at the Jacksonville Beach Pier and The Elbow.
  • The Connector will be an affordable solution: $5 one-way and $8 round trip.  A cab ride between the two stops would cost about $40 plus tip. The average DUI: $10,000.
  • The Connector will run Friday and Saturday nights from 7 p.m.-2 a.m., as well as during special events (like First Wednesday Art Walk).

The Connector needs our support to become reality – a service for the community, The Connector will be funded by the community.  A crowdfunding campaign has been set up, with great perks for being generous. Every penny goes towards bridging this 17-mile gap, every dollar says that, in The Bold New City of the South, bold ideas are welcome and rewarded.

This venture will benefit Downtown nightlife, restaurants and residents, and continue the momentum that has been building in the urban core.  What more could we ask for this holiday season but the gift of connection Downtown?

by: Katherine Hardwick in Downtown Vision, Inc. No Comments  

photoThis month, DVI released its 2012-2013 Annual Report sharing the year’s accomplishments by staff and the Downtown Ambassador team. New this year, DVI outlined its goals for the year to come. Here’s a sneak peak:

Goal #1: Leadership through strategic alliances and advocacy.
As the premier organization that is focused exclusively on the success of Downtown, we are dedicated problem solvers determining holistic and sustainable solutions for Downtown. DVI enlists agencies, businesses and organizations to collectively accomplish common tasks that are needed to drive Downtown revitalization.

Goal #2: Enhance the urban environment to make Downtown more welcoming.
Downtown Vision, Inc. leads initiatives to create and maintain quality public places that are clean, safe, environmentally friendly and socially engaging to make Downtown more walkable and to grow its café culture.

Goal #3: Tell the story of Downtown Jacksonville.
We keep the community informed on Downtown’s unique events and offerings.

Goal #4: Act on behalf of Downtown stakeholders to improve the condition of Downtown.
Jacksonville’s overall image is judged largely on the condition of its Downtown. The more vibrant Downtown becomes, the more Downtown will be attractive to businesses, investors, a diverse work force and visitors. The success of Downtown directly impacts overall property values, job creation and the local economy.

Goal #5: Guarantee long-term organizational operations.
In order to continue and build upon the work that we have undertaken since 2000, a healthy and sustainable organization is necessary.

View the complete Annual Report here.

by: tdurandstuebben in Resident Spotlights No Comments  

There is a significant amount of dialogue and debate regarding the need to improve the element of transportation within and to our urban core. Between the JTA Bus Rapid Transit plan and DIA redevelopment meetings, there are many individuals working toward an improved, innovative transportation solution. But I would like to stretch your the perception of our urban connectivity.

water taxiThere are many options to get around Downtown Jacksonville. I’m going to dispel some of the assumptions about our lack of connectivity within Downtown with my experiences during Florida-Georgia weekend. The day began walking across the street (allow me to reiterate, I walked across the street) to ride the Jacksonville Water Taxi over to Metropolitan Park Marina after my husband’s weekly Saturday golf.

After enjoying a few tailgates, we decided to seek out a late lunch and jumped onto a bike taxi/rickshaw to Burrito Gallery. With our grande burrito take-out, we walked home over the Main Street Bridge. We then watched most of the game from home before we walked (again) across the street to have dinner at Chart House.

The Florida Theatre

The Florida Theatre

At the same time, game revelers were moving about Downtown, we finished dinner and headed to the Florida Theatre for Hugh Laurie and The Copper Bottom Band concert via a traditional automobile taxi. The jazz infused Cajun and blues music was awesome for those who did not know about the performance.

To finish the full, diverse Downtown day, we walked home once again over the Main Street Bridge. Living Downtown, we experienced all of this so easily in one day: three types of taxis, Florida-Georgia football, lunch, dinner, concert and two walks over the bridge.

Jacksonville is working on urban connectivity, and it will get even better than it already is – come try it out!

~ Terry Durand-Stuebben, Downtown resident and advocate

Read other posts by Terry in our “Downtown Residents” blog section.

by: Katherine Hardwick in Downtown Shout-outs No Comments  

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 9.09.39 AM

What a great Downtown shout-out in the current issue of Folio Weekly! Here’s an excerpt from Michael Dunlap Is Thankful for Artists’ Collaboration:

“I am grateful that the Downtown core has made substantial progress over the last decade; for example, Art Walk is celebrating 10 years of success. Constituent elements of a great Downtown are falling into place: a diverse 24/7 urban core, vibrant street life, a cross section of housing (with price ranges for all), many new cafés, strong nightlife on Bay Street, 43,000 parking spaces (more than four Disney World parks), a spattering of retail, and major business investment. Shad Khan’s investment in the Laura Street Trio will change everything, not to mention the $20 million investment in the Haydon Burns Library adaptive re-use by the Jessie Ball duPont Fund.”

DVI is thankful for all our artists and entrepreneurs, creators and voices, investors and doers in Downtown Jacksonville who are essential to this progress! Visit Michael and his fellow collaborators, and celebrate the visual arts in Jacksonville at Southlight Gallery.

Jay Harris

Jay Harris

Tucked between Chamblin’s Uptown and Diversions on Laura Street sits Jay Harris and his Strght & Nrrw boutique. The shop features not only clothes and accessories but a place for anyone looking for life direction to hang out in a friendly atmosphere. We recently chatted with Harris about Strght & Nrrw’s impact on Downtown and on the lives that walk through its doors.

When did Strght & Nrrw open, and how did the idea for the shop come about?

We opened Oct. 25, 2011. The shop was a part of my original business plan when I started the Strght & Nrrw Clothing line. I’ve attended Art Walk for several years, and I would envision a storefront every time I walked past the Elks Building. I was participating as an Art Walk vendor in Hemming Plaza, and I looked down Laura Street – it hit me like a ton of bricks. So I made a faith move and opened the shop.

Describe what Strght & Nrrw offers customers.

Shopping our brand is cool, but it’s the least of what we offer. The store is a refuge for people who need help. Young men and women who are void of direction. People who are starving or are freezing on a cold night. It’s a monument for people who are deemed hopeless to be encouraged, esteemed, loved and treated with value. I was once a very lost young man, and the best part of what I get to do is help others. That’s why the store is set up like a really cool living room instead of a place thats driven by a financial bottom line. People are welcome to sit and just stare or talk. The work is sometimes overwhelming, but the results have really blown us away. We have seen people’s lives utterly turn around.

Where are you from originally, and what is your professional background? How did these factors lead you to opening your own retail business?

Originally from Newark, N.J., raised in Jacksonville and Orlando. My professional background was very unprofessional, so I’ll go with world-class screw up that finally saw the light. I’m self educated. I spent the last 12 years of my life going to fashion trade shows, taking classes and asking questions. I’ve gone to Vegas for a fashion show about twice a year for the past 11, 12 years.

Why did you choose to open your shop Downtown?

Jacksonville has a beautiful Downtown, and I wanted to build what I wanted to see there instead of complaining about it not being there. Also, I wanted to make a move that would inspire people and cast a vision for what could be, with the hope that other entrepreneurs would follow in my steps. I knew it was a risky move. My brand was already bringing in revenue from online sales, so I figured that would pad me through rough seasons. It has worked.

What do you love most about owning a shop Downtown?

The people. The buildings. The concrete. Did I say the people? I simply love it.

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

There is so much opportunity. You can be the first to do something new in a thriving, growing city. There are not many places where you have that advantage. You have organizations like Downtown Vision, the Jax Pack Downtown Merchants and many others that partner to help make this city even more amazing.

What’s next for Strght & Nrrw? Any upcoming events, new products, etc.?

In 2014, we will launch a nonprofit, partnering with other nonprofits, working in the community to make difference in the lives of some of our less fortunate neighbors, and releasing more music. We are really excited about mentoring more youth. We were able to make an impact with some really special young dudes last year. We’ve seen guys come from prison to working jobs and taking care of their families. That’s what excites us. We will be putting a lot of focus there. Oh yeah, more clothes, too.

Anything else to add?

Thanks for having me, and we really appreciate everything Downtown Vision is doing for the city.

For more information on Strght & Nrrw, located at 205 N. Laura St., check out the shop’s website and ‘like’ it on Facebook.