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

Terry Lorince, DVI executive director

On a recent Tuesday at 8:35 a.m., I was driving to work and found myself in one of Downtown’s usual traffic jams watching a sailboat slowly meander under the raised Main Street Bridge.

I know of no other major American city that has traffic jams like this – one that causes you to pause, look at our magnificent river, the skyline and how fortunate we are to live here. Not only is it my own opportunity for meditation but also one of the major tools we can use to market Downtown Jacksonville: “A traffic jam in Downtown is waiting five minutes while the Main Street Bridge is up for passing sailboats.” As we move to market bigger and better in Jacksonville, I think there is something special about this quality of life that I would hate for us and for Downtown to lose.

Be on the look out this Saturday for an editorial in The Florida Times-Union in collaboration with Brenna Durden of the Florida Redevelopment Association, Chung Rutter of the American Institute of Architects and Ben Warner of JCCI. Our goal is to spark the conversation on creating a cohesive vision and coordinated approach for our riverfront to ensure we are able to retain the qualities that make Downtown Jacksonville unique and special for generations to come.

Monthly e-newsletterRead 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: Admin in Business Spotlights No Comments  
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Adams Dukes (left) and Bryce Pfanenstiel of FORGE. Photos by DVI.

There’s a possible Guinness World Record that now calls Downtown home, and it’s up to Adam Dukes and Bryce Pfanenstiel to babysit it in their free time.

Crammed between to large panes of glass in a wooden frame is a mountain of sand and about 1,000 ants, carving their way through the grains in tunnels and hills. The ant farm – a One Spark project called Ant Mama – was built by Dukes and Pfanenstiel, the founders of FORGE.

While the pair gets a kick out of carpentry projects like the ant farm, it’s digital carpentry that’s their specialty – three-dimensional printing.

3D-printing is a relatively new, low-cost manufacturing phenomenon that involves printing three-dimensional objects designed on a computer in hundreds of layers, using liquified versions of materials including silicone and aluminum. As the industry evolves and technology rapidly changes, you’ll find Dukes and Pfanenstiel thrilled to sort through the latest challenges in their Bay Street studio.

“When we saw the capabilities of 3D-printing, we knew it was a revolutionary technology that would not only help us, but all creators,” said Dukes. “FORGE is an attitude as much as a company. It is about taking ideas and leveraging modern technologies and relentless resourcefulness to bring them to life.”

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A sample of FORGE’s 3D-printed projects.

The longtime friends first discovered 3D-printing when researching how to create a zombie-apocalypse training aid for Pfanenstiel’s dog – we’re just going to let that statement speak for itself. Since then, they’ve produced custom jewelry, architectural models, sculpture replicas, replacement car parts, medical prototypes, branding irons, custom electronics cases and doll heads, just to name a few projects. They also frequently work with inventors and patent holders to prototype and develop new products.

“The quirkiest day I’ve had involved discovering how many things in the office we could implode using a vacuum pump while trying to cast a product in silicone,” Dukes said. “After destroying every air-tight container we had, I bought a vacuum chamber.”

Buddies since high school, Dukes’ and Pfanenstiel’s backgrounds aren’t what you’d expect for 3D printers – or is it? Pfanenstiel went to school for marketing and creative advertising and has lived in Jacksonville for the past seven years. Before Jacksonville, Pfanenstiel began the first Wireless ISP company in Kentucky, among other pursuits. Since arriving in the River City, he’s helped develop several other businesses.

The "Ant Mama" ant farm built by FORGE.

The “Ant Mama” ant farm built by FORGE.

Dukes’ background is computer-science. He spent seven years working at the Genome Institute at Washington University in St. Louis as a software designer working in cancer genomics. He’ll tell you he’s more of the computer, designer guy of the team, and Pfanenstiel focuses more on equipment functionality and marketing.

The guys chose Jacksonville for FORGE’s home because of the city’s “young, thriving entrepreneurial spirit” along with its nicer winters, Dukes said. As for landing in Downtown, the urban core turned out to be the perfect choice.

“We’ve found Downtown to be a nexus of passionate, hard-working young professionals and business owners,” Dukes said. “Downtown is the heart of the city, and all of us are trying to create a thriving and exciting place to live and visit. From a business standpoint, I am most excited about the momentum behind Downtown revitalization. There are many promising projects taking off Downtown, and the growth of the One Spark festival is a promising sign for the success of other endeavors.”

Pfanenstiel agrees.

“Downtown is a great place to start a business for several reasons,” Pfanenstiel said. “Perfect weather most afternoons and evenings, nearby accessibility to resources and an urban core that is not only patrolled for safety but actively cleaned. The Downtown atmosphere is one of Southern pride without the pretentiousness and fancy modernization most cities embrace. This atmosphere and attitude might move a little slower, but it’s a bold Southern charm that grunts and gets things done.”

DSC_0599_webWhat’s next for FORGE? The guys hope to take their concept nationwide and deliver quality “geek manufacturing” to other metropolitan areas. Meanwhile, they’re perfecting their new 3D-scanning capability. Upcoming projects involve full-color 3D figurines, Dukes said.

“People from all backgrounds, unique projects, new challenges,” Pfanenstiel said, “these are elements at the core of innovation, and building perpetual momentum will have Downtown Jacksonville prepared to be on the forefront of the digital manufacturing revolution.”

For more information on FORGE, visit www.forgejax.com or ‘like’ FORGE on Facebook. Also, FORGE is usually open Art Walk nights, so be sure to stop by to check out the studio when you’re walkin’ the walk.

by: Jennifer Hewett-Apperson in Downtown Shout-outs, Events No Comments  
Down Town Clean up 2014 002

Volunteers assemble at The Landing for the start of the Second-Annual Downtown Cleanup April 19.

In celebration of Earth Day this month, Jacksonville’s concrete jungle received a little love from locals passionate about the environment. Saturday, April 19, nearly 50 volunteers from various local organizations descended on Downtown for an early-morning litter patrol.

Volunteers collected litter from the street, Downtown parks and right-of-ways. Teams also made note of any properties with graffiti, broken sidewalk concrete or other issues needing to be reported to 630-CITY.

In addition, DVI’s Downtown Ambassadors were on hand to assist with this effort.

The second-annual event was coordinated by Keep Jacksonville Beautiful in conjunction with Downtown Vision, Inc., the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront and the City of Jacksonville.

Thank you to all volunteers and organizers who pitched in to make Downtown shine!


by: Admin in Events 1 Comment  
Photo by DVI

Photo by DVI

Pull up a chair. If you’re not already, you might want to sit down for this.

The more than 260,000 people who packed the 20 blocks of One Spark April 9-13 is equivalent to two full days of attendance at all four Disney World theme parks.

Upwards of 90,000 of that crowd rode the Skyway during the festival’s five days, matching the Jacksonville Super Bowl numbers across six days.

DVI’s Downtown Ambassadors assisted more than 650 pedestrians; logged 335 miles on bicycles and Segways; and worked an additional 42 hours.

Intuition Ale Works, One Spark’s official beer supplier, sold 260 kegs of beers. The week after the festival, restaurants/bars only received Intuition’s I-10, as One Spark sold all of Intuition’s stock for every other beer.

Burrito Gallery had the best day in its history that Saturday with more than 1,500 order-tickets placed with an average of one to five items per ticket. A typical Saturday sees about 400 tickets placed.

Grease Rags Clothing Co. saw about 150 people an hour come through its doors that Friday and Saturday. The shop also made a month’s worth of sales across the five-day festival.

On Twitter, more than 83 million impressions occurred during the festival’s five days alone based on tweets using #OneSpark or @BeOneSpark.

More than 50 sponsors and partner organizations helped make the festival a success.

You don’t have to dig too deeply to learn that One Spark 2014 lit up Downtown and burned through the record books. Check out this recently released graphic* of even more impressive statistics that further tell the festival’s story:

Graphic provided by the One Spark team.

*Graphic above provided by the One Spark team.

If your reaction was “wow,” we hear you loud and clear. How can you help keep the spark alive? Help us fan this flame by continuing to support Downtown 365 days a year.

Shop for unique finds in Downtown retail locations, from the classy KAnthony Boutique to kids’ paradise The Toy Factory at The Jacksonville Landing. Indulge in Downtown cuisine, including the always-delicious dive Chomp Chomp to the Southbank’s fine dining experience at Chart House. And a night on the (Down)town is like no other – fresh-squeezed cocktails from Dos Gatos and live music at 1904 Music Hall are only the beginning.

Let us know your thoughts on how the community can continue to work to heat up Downtown Jacksonville. Take five minutes to share your perception of Downtown today through a quick survey. We also welcome your Downtown testimonials online.

by: Beth Graham in Advocacy, Thought Leadership No Comments  

100 Homes JacksonvilleAnthony was once hours away from dying on the streets of Jacksonville. Today, thanks to 100 Homes Jacksonville, he lives at Andy’s Place, a River Region Human Services, Inc. development that offers permanent supportive housing for those who have been homeless. Residents at Andy’s Place receive life skills training, which increases their opportunities to become productive, employed members of the community.

Anthony grew up in Miami, where he was a long-time employee of a national food distributor. He moved to Jacksonville to pursue other employment opportunities and worked as a delivery driver and later as a car salesman. He began having medical problems and was eventually unable to work resulting in a loss of income. He lived in his car for several months, but after his money ran out, he had to sell his car and ended up living in shelters and then on the streets. A serious, almost fatal, heart issue landed Anthony in the hospital where he received a pacemaker.

Ability Housing100 Homes Jacksonville is a nonprofit program that works to identify the most vulnerable homeless individuals with a high risk of death to provide permanent supportive housing. Anthony was one of those identified due to his medical condition. Since the program began in 2012, 100 Homes has housed over 500 chronically homeless people across the region. Ability Housing administers the program that is a collaboration of multiple agencies, including the Veterans Administration, River Region, the Sulzbacher Center, Clara White Mission, the Jacksonville Housing Authority, Mental Health Resource Center and ESHC.

Ability Housing is the only nonprofit in Northeast Florida that focuses on the development and operation of quality affordable rental housing for individuals and families experiencing or at risk of homelessness and adults with a disability. 100 Homes Jacksonville is part of the national 100,000 Homes Campaign and is one of the major programs making a difference in Downtown today. For more information, visit www.abilityhousing.org or http://www.rrhs.org.

Anthony has been off the streets and in his own home since July 2012. He is thriving and proof that the program works!

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

If you haven’t picked up the April issue of EU Jacksonville what are you waiting for? One Spark may be over, but there’s much more Downtown goodness to discover. From the amazing article on the “Millentrepreneurs of #Duval”–faces near and dear to Downtown–to a fantastic spread on igniting the economic engine of Downtown through the Cultural Council’s Spark District initiatives, the issue elaborates on some of the best news in Downtown.

And then, of course, I’ll make a shameless plug for our very own Downtown column – a little bit about who we are and what we do day to day:

EU Jacksonville - April

Downtown, In Focus
A Conversation with Downtown Vision, Inc.

In the immortal words of former Jacksonville Mayor Jake Godbold, “As your Downtown goes, so goes your city.” So then, how are things Downtown going today?

The number of Downtown residents is the highest it’s been in decades and residential properties are more than 90% occupied. Downtown office vacancy rates continue to drop each year. Crime in Downtown accounts for only 2% of serious crime in the entire City of Jacksonville. And, Downtown has more parking than Disney World, not including Animal Kingdom.

Downtown champions are hard at work. The Cultural Council has created a Spark Grant program for Downtown revitalization through the arts. The Elbow, Downtown’s nightlife and entertainment district brings together more than two-dozen businesses, all locally owned and operated. Events and ventures like One Spark and now KYN make Downtown a haven for entrepreneurs. And great advocates for Downtown, like the wonderful folks at EU Jacksonville, are helping to shine a spotlight on it all.

From where I sit, in my office on the corner of Adams and Hogan streets, it’s not just that the numbers are adding up, but there’s a tangible excitement in the air. You see, Downtown is not just a job for me, it’s a passion. I’m the director of marketing for Downtown Vision, Inc. (DVI), Jacksonville’s Downtown Improvement District (DID). And, my goal is to tell the story of Downtown.

Let me get technical for a moment in case you’re unfamiliar. A DID is created by commercial property owners within a downtown when they see a need for services over and above what their city government provides. They pay a self-assessed tax based on property values to fund the organization, which then tailors its services to fit the needs of its district. In essence, a DID acts like a homeowners association. More than 1,000 exist in the U.S., and New York City has more than 67 alone.  They exist in most of the 50 largest cities in the United States, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Downtowns are a fascinating subject. But if you’re not convinced yet, here’s why you should care: Downtowns are a source of community identity, culture, history and pride.  A thriving downtown attracts new businesses, jobs and a diverse work force, keeping dollars in the community and enhancing the quality of life for the entire city.

And so, DVI works as the management arm of Downtown Jacksonville to enhance the quality of life for Downtown property owners, and in turn, Downtown employees, residents and everyone who visits. Our resume includes everything from removing graffiti on the columns of the new County Courthouse to advocating for historic preservation to arranging dining promotions with two-dozen restaurants during their slowest time of the year. Our job is to pull all the pieces together.

DVI’s team of smiling Downtown Ambassadors in their orange shirt and pith helmets, are hard at work seven days a week to make Downtown cleaner, safer and friendlier. After all, you have to clean house before you have guests over. And, we’ve welcomed hundreds of thousands of guests over the years to more than 750 event days we’ve programmed, including the award-winning First Wednesday Art Walk. We leased more than 50,000 square feet of vacant retail space to artists with the Off the Grid initiative in partnership with the Cultural Council. And, we tell people what’s going, where to go and how to park at our resource for all things Downtown, downtownjacksonville.org. Nobody knows Downtown better than us!

And we’re just getting started. Through a partnership with the new Downtown Investment Authority we’re able to do more to attract and retain businesses. Through a partnership with the Downtown Marketing Collaborative, we’re able to reach more people. And, through a partnership with Greenscape and The Paul Bryan Group, we’re launching new beautification initiatives starting in Hemming Plaza.

It’s an exciting time to be Downtown, and I look forward to sharing exciting news and insights on Downtown each month with you. Until then, subscribe to weekly “Things to Do” and Monthly Update e-newsletters, and learn more about our vision for Downtown, by reading our white paper: “Turning the Corner: Rethinking and Remaking Downtown” at dtjax.org. Or, let us take you on a walking tour of Downtown and show you around, just contact me at katherine@downtownjacksonville.org.

by: Brett Oakes in Events No Comments  

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Photos by Jay Metz from the Jacksonville Suns

Sitting in my seat next to first base with a hot dog in one hand and a bag of fresh-cooked popcorn in the other, the sounds of the season – baseball season – surround me. The umpire yelling out his calls. The crack of the bat. Fans cheering.

What do I love about baseball in the heart of River City? The smell of the freshly cooked food distributed throughout the crowd, listening to the announcer call out the game play-by-play and watching the sun set behind the grandstands.

In addition to these familiar sights and sounds of the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Suns welcomed two new members to their team this season: Cesar Roman, the athletic trainer, and Scott Smith, the strength and conditioning coach.

Don’t miss out on the action! Here’s a peek at what’s on deck for the hottest team in minor league baseball this season:

Upcoming Special Events

  • Super Hero Night – April 19
  • Easter Egg Hunt – April 20
  • Military Appreciation Night – May 26
  • Jimmy Buffet Night – June 21

Special Guests

  • Dale Murphy former Atlanta Braves player – May 30
  • Mountain Man from Duck Dynasty – June 6

Weekly Events

  • Monday – Belly Buster Mondays
  • Thursday - $5 College Student Nights and Thursday Night Throw Down (with $1 beers!)
  • Friday – Family Fireworks
  • Saturday – Blood Drive

For more information on promotions, giveaways and game events, visit JaxSuns.com. For more fun things to do Downtown, including places to drink or dine pre- or post-game, visit our website downtownjacksonville.org.

 

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Contact Us

Contact Us
Downtown Vision, Inc.
214 N. Hogan Street
Suite 120
Jacksonville, FL 32202
Phone: 904.634.0303
Fax: 904.634.8988