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

Terry Lorince, DVI executive director

Two hundred and twenty-five plus events in thirty-one days – only in Downtown.

After the holidays, things didn’t quiet down. It was just the opposite here in Downtown with an average of seven events per day in January. And there truly was something for everyone, from Billy Joel and B.B. King concerts to the Gator Bowl, civic events, farmer’s markets, craft beer afternoon parties, and kid’s happenings. Events of all sizes and types fill nearly 132,000 combined seats at 12 event venues to make Downtown the cultural and entertainment hub of Northeast Florida.

Here’s a fun event fact: Did you know The Jacksonville Landing alone hosted 600 events in 2013, including nearly 220 local bands and artists, nearly 30 national acts and more than 30 charity and non-profit events? That’s astounding.

This past month City Council passed Ordinance 2013-695 to make it easier to hold events Downtown, loosening the restrictive insurance requirements and liability oversight. While we already have a pretty busy calendar, more events are necessary to help support local businesses and continue to make the area more attractive to residents. It’s a positive cycle: the more events we have, the more people come Downtown; the more people Downtown, the more shops, restaurants and nightlife venues open; the more these open, the more people will want to live Downtown and the more attractive Downtown is to new businesses and employers; the more jobs Downtown, the more people will want to live Downtown. Events are the lynch pin in the vibrancy of Downtown, and we look forward to watching our calendar grow in 2014.

Screen shot 2014-01-31 at 4.21.12 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.

by: Katherine Hardwick in Business Spotlights, Developments, Placemaking (5) Comments  

“Downtown has been frozen, we need to thaw it out,” said developer Toney Sleiman, owner of The Jacksonville Landing.

And Sleiman is looking to do just that. Last month, the Downtown Investment Authority held a public workshop in conjunction with DVI, the Haskell Company, AIA and Sleiman Enterprises to explore ideas about revitalizing The Landing. Approximately 200 people came out to voice ideas ranging from the importance of market-rate housing to incorporating art and local flavor to pedestrian and vehicular access.

Sleiman Enterprises and Haskell Company incorporated that feedback into a proposed design presented at the January 15 DIA Board meeting. The plans incorporate two towers–one to house a boutique hotel, the other to house residential units–with space for small business and retail below and throughout the site along with ample parking built into the proposed structure. A substantial setback from the river will allow for a wider Riverwalk and art promenade for pedestrians to enjoy and last block of Hogan Street will become a public plaza. Finally, the plans call for elimination of the ramp leading from Water Street to the Main Street Bridge on the western boundary of The Landing site.

The DIA will now begin its due diligence on the market demand for residential and hotel space Downtown, and will make sure that these plans are included as part of the redevelopment strategy its currently drafting.

Here is a look at the presentation shared with DVI this month, republished with permission.

Jacksonville Landing Proposed Design Slide01 The Jacksonville Landing Design Proposal Slide02 Slide03 Slide04 Slide05 Slide06 Slide07 Slide08 Slide09 Slide10 Slide11 Slide12 Slide13 Slide14 Slide15 Slide16 Slide17 Slide18 Slide19 Slide20 Slide21 Slide22 Slide23 Slide24 Slide25 Slide26 Slide27 Slide28

DSC_3895_webDie-hard Michigan Wolverines fan. Foodie. Loves roller-coasters, movies and, of course, grabbing drinks any night of the week at Dos Gatos. This only scratches the surface of how to describe a Downtown Ambassador familiar to so many – Ambassador Michael.

Always equipped with a friendly greeting and fun story to tell, Mike has enjoyed six years as a Downtown Ambassador, including winning the hospitality industry’s prestigious ROSE Award. “I thought it would be an exciting job to help people out,” he said. “I love making people smile after I’ve helped them.”

And he’s done just that. With those several years under his belt, Mike has plenty of great Downtown memories share. Here are some of his most memorable Ambassador moments to date:

  • He’s brightened days.
    On a walk through Hemming Plaza one day, he came across an older woman who said she was having a bad day. One of her shoes broke, and she didn’t know what to do. Mike took her shoe over to Gus’s, and the shop fixed it on the spot for free. Mike said the woman was so thankful when he delivered her now-repaired shoe back to her in the Plaza.
  • He’s helped thwart crime.
    Last year, he pursued at a safe distance a suspected robber who took cash from a Downtown cafe. He’s also helped apprehend purse snatchers and return several missing cell phones.
  • He’s lent a helping hand.
    About once a week, Mike or Ambassador Lydia helps escort a blind man to his desired Downtown destinations, making sure the gentleman gets safely back on his bus following his errands.
  • He’s kept watch.
    When a hot dog vendor or other street vendor needs a bathroom break or quick cash run to a bank, Mike stands watch until the vendor returns to his/her cart.
  • He’s helped people find their way. 
    About twice a week, he assists Downtown visitors find their cars, whether the vehicles are street-parked or in a garage or lot.
  • He’s welcomed new Downtowners.
    One of his favorite memories, he said, was welcoming and introducing EverBank and C2C Solutions employees to Downtown when the companies moved to the urban core.

Want to meet Mike yourself? Take a stroll Downtown any weekday for dining, shopping or events, and you’re sure to run into him wearing his signature orange Ambassador shirt and smile. For more information on DVI’s Downtown Ambassador Program, visit our informational webpage, which includes contact information and hours of operation.

by: Admin in Spotlight No Comments  

The 100 block of Forsyth Street in Downtown Jacksonville is abuzz with recent regional and worldwide media attention.

Screen shot 2014-01-23 at 5.20.22 PM

The Florida Theatre was named one of the “Top 100 Theatres” in the world, based on ticket sales, by Pollstar.


And just across the street, you ask? The always tantalizing Dos Gatos was named one of “100 Best Bars in the South” by Southern Living Magazine.

Drinks and a show? If you ask us, this is one “best of” combination sure to make your next night on the town a winning one.

The Pennisula

The Peninsula

It should come as no surprise to Downtown enthusiasts that Downtown is becoming one of Jacksonville’s hottest real estate markets, and with more than 600 units under construction, it’s going to get even hotter. With more than 15 living spaces to choose from, Downtown residential complexes include everything from a historic former hotel, The Carling, to The Peninsula, a modern high-rise luxury condominium.

DVI recently polled Downtown living spaces for occupancy rates and are pleased to report a 94% occupancy rate for the 11 residential buildings surveyed. Here are five examples of occupancies Downtown:

You may be asking yourself, why do urban areas including Downtown Jacksonville have such high occupancy rates? According to, cities are now becoming the fastest growing communities compared to the suburbs. Most of these new urban-area residents, known as the Generation Y, are 20-somethings who prefer the city life due to the conveniences and amenities it provides.


The Carling

So what are some benefits of living in Downtown Jacksonville, you ask? Jacksonville’s core boosts more than 90 restaurants, 20 bars and clubs, close proximity to hundreds of workplaces and hundreds of cultural events to enjoy throughout the year. Many choose the Downtown area because of the nightlife, accessibility to entertainment and easy access to high-quality dining without the need to drive.

While DVI’s numbers prove Downtown has a hot residential market with competition to get into the most popular properties, there are several opportunities to grow in the works. Examples of residential projects currently under construction or proposed include 220 Riverside, the Brooklyn Riverside and The Jacksonville Landing‘s proposed addition of residential units.

by: Admin in Developments No Comments  

“If you build it, they will come.”

That’s the concept behind at least two investor groups looking to develop the City of Jacksonville’s Shipyards property, a vacant 40-acre riverfront site near Downtown’s Sports Complex Area.

One idea, proposed last summer by Shad Khan of the Jaguars, is to create a “gateway, front door” to the Sports Complex Area, featuring sports-related activities as well as commercial and residential projects, according to the Jacksonville Business Journal. The latest idea, the Seaglass Tower proposed last month, was introduced Friday to members of the JAX Chamber’s Downtown Council. Both ideas are intended to increase visits to Downtown.

The proposed Seaglass Tower and surrounding attractions.

The proposed Seaglass Tower and surrounding attractions.

At the Downtown Council meeting, Mark Farrell, owner of Killashee Investments, LLC, discussed his company’s proposal to build this “iconic structure” on the Shipyards property. The Seaglass Tower would be the tallest building in Florida at 1,000 feet, and Farrell believes the project could boost Downtown visits from locals and increase tourism.

Plans for the Tower include a two-story restaurant, observation deck and possibly a bungee, which would make it the fifth-highest bungee in the world. On the surrounding property, Killashee Investments envisions other neighboring destinations, including a 100,000-square-foot aquarium, a convention center, hotels and the U.S.S. Adams museum.

“Just think how this city would change,” said Farrell. While he knows making this project a reality is not without its challenges, he is optimistic that, if not the Seaglass Tower, something catalytic will come to the Shipyards in the near future.

“If nothing else,” he said, “[the Seaglass Tower] has stirred the imagination of others to think bigger.”


For more information on the Seaglass Tower proposal, visit its official webpage and ‘like’ its Facebook page.

by: abruno in Art Walk (2) Comments  

Ring in a new year of First Wednesday Art Walk on Feb. 5 with wedding bells! At “Art is for Lovers,” there will be activities for all, including the singles, the couples and the heartbroken.

Save the Date 1

Married by The Specktator | 6:30-9 p.m.
Kerry Speckman, local personality “The Specktator” and ordained minister, will be on-hand at a handmade Chapel of Love to perform wedding ceremonies to couples that have the necessary paperwork, or commitment ceremonies and vow renewals for those that don’t. After the Art Walk nuptials, participating couples will be treated to chocolates from Sweet Pete’s, photos by Rob Futrell, roses from Bonnie’s Floral Designs and ring engravings by Hemming Plaza Jewelers.

To request a ceremony time, contact Liz Grebe at We will do our best to accommodate all requests. We also welcome walk-ups.

NOTE: There’s a three-day waiting period for marriage licenses in Duval County, so you’ll want to start the process ASAP here:

Single Mingle | 7:30 p.m.
This event is for those of us that haven’t yet been struck by Cupid’s arrow. Make new friends during a speed dating-like event hosted by The Lyricist Hour with Mal Jones.

Dump Your Baggage | 5-9 p.m.
Sometimes, love stinks. Write down your stories of jilted, hurtful or unrequited love and shred it. As the shredder becomes full, we’ll empty it into what will become a colorful trash bin full of the past.

Don’t forget, local art makes a perfect Valentine’s Day gift! Shop from all types of art, including jewelry, paintings, sketches and accessories throughout Downtown galleries, businesses and Hemming Plaza.

With 40+ participating venues spanning over 15 city blocks, First Wednesday Art Walk has something for everyone, no matter what your relationship status may be.