by: admin in Art Walk, Spotlight No Comments  

By Hill Crawford, DVI Intern

Paul Baker, The Pen Crafter. Photo by DVI.

Many people believe making pens is a task left to manufacturers who spend countless hours in a factory producing mass quantities of the same product. However, local Art Walk artist Paul Baker of The Pen Crafter is out to prove there are other methods to creating the perfect writing utensil.

What started off as just a hobby blossomed into a fulfilling passion. Baker began creating his masterful pens about seven years ago. He learned his skill from a friend by watching him work. Baker said the “watch and learn” method is the best way to understand how the pen crafting process works.

Baker started off creating only one type of pen, and now he can make almost any type you can image. Graduating from his simple designs, Baker now creates pens made using corn cobs, moonscapes and more entirely out of wood. Each handcrafted pen takes up to seven hours to create.

“Last night, I started working on two pens and after six hours, I still hadn’t finished one,” Baker said.

His process begins with cutting down a pen blank to the correct size. After this, the pen goes through a rigorous sanding process, some require up to 10 different kinds of sand paper! Each pen is then assembled and  given a unique stain to insure quality.

Photo: thepencrafter.com

 

With growing popularity Baker is now able to afford a wider variety of pens shapes and unique materials, including various metals such as copper.  Participating in Art Walk for more than two years now, Baker enjoys having his creations on display because he likes showing his work to the community.

Interested in The Pen Crafter’s elaborate designs? Be sure to check out his display in Hemming Park at the Sept. 2 Art Walk from 5-9 p.m. This month’s theme is “Dog Days of Summer”, a perfect opportunity to bring your four-legged friend to #DTJax for a doggone good time. Check out the highlights and view the official map at iloveartwalk.com.

by: admin in Art Walk, Spotlight No Comments  

By Hill Crawford, DVI Intern

Paul Baker, The Pen Crafter. Photo by DVI.

Many people believe making pens is a task left to manufacturers who spend countless hours in a factory producing mass quantities of the same product. However, local Art Walk artist Paul Baker of The Pen Crafter is out to prove there are other methods to creating the perfect writing utensil.

What started off as just a hobby blossomed into a fulfilling passion. Baker began creating his masterful pens about seven years ago. He learned his skill from a friend by watching him work. Baker said the “watch and learn” method is the best way to understand how the pen crafting process works.

Baker started off creating only one type of pen, and now he can make almost any type you can image. Graduating from his simple designs, Baker now creates pens made using corn cobs, moonscapes and more entirely out of wood. Each handcrafted pen takes up to seven hours to create.

“Last night, I started working on two pens and after six hours, I still hadn’t finished one,” Baker said.

His process begins with cutting down a pen blank to the correct size. After this, the pen goes through a rigorous sanding process, some require up to 10 different kinds of sand paper! Each pen is then assembled and  given a unique stain to insure quality.

Photo: thepencrafter.com

 

With growing popularity Baker is now able to afford a wider variety of pens shapes and unique materials, including various metals such as copper.  Participating in Art Walk for more than two years now, Baker enjoys having his creations on display because he likes showing his work to the community.

Interested in The Pen Crafter’s elaborate designs? Be sure to check out his display in Hemming Park at the Sept. 2 Art Walk from 5-9 p.m. This month’s theme is “Dog Days of Summer”, a perfect opportunity to bring your four-legged friend to #DTJax for a doggone good time. Check out the highlights and view the official map at iloveartwalk.com.

 

 

by: admin in Resident Spotlights No Comments  
Lauren Grawbowski and Daisy

New Downtown resident Lauren Grabowski and her pup, Daisy

A homeowner on the Southside for the past few years, 30-year-old Lauren Grabowski took a leap and is now one of Downtown’s newest residents. As a tenant of the recently opened 220 Riverside, Grabowski is loving her new city life in Downtown’s bustling Brooklyn neighborhood. Read our chat with Grabowski below, where she shares why she enjoys calling #DTJax home.

 

Where are you from originally, and what brought you to Jacksonville?

I’m originally from upstate New York. My dad was transferred for a job when I was 2 ½. The plan was to be in Jax for two years and then go back to New York. Since life never goes according to plan, my family has now been here for more than 25 years and have made it home.

Why did you choose to live Downtown?

I was looking for a lifestyle change. I realized suburbia wasn’t the place for me, so I sold my Southside home and took the plunge into something different. It wasn’t until a couple years ago, when I joined Downtown Rotaract Jax, that I even became familiar with this side of town. It’s unfortunate, but a lot of people in this city don’t venture out of their own neighborhood.

Interior of Lauren's 220 Riverside apartment

Interior of Lauren’s 220 Riverside apartment

Why did you choose 220 Riverside in Brooklyn, specifically? What’s the coolest part about living there?

I first heard about the community when Jen Jones came to speak at a Rotaract meeting about the plans for Unity Plaza. It sounded like an exciting place to live – restaurants, bars, an amphitheater, an urban park – all attached to the community. My balcony overlooks the plaza, so I’m really excited to hear about all of the upcoming events.

While we know you just moved in, what do you love most about living Downtown so far?

The view.

The Unity Plaza balcony view from the west side of 220 Riverside.

I’m really enjoying the urban lifestyle. It’s so different from living in other areas of Jax. Downtown just has a totally different feel about it. I enjoy being able to walk my dog along the Riverwalk and head to the Riverside Arts Market on the weekend. And I know it sounds funny, but I love the smell of roasting coffee coming from Maxwell House!

What do you think is the biggest myth about Downtown?

Probably that Downtown is a scary place. A lot of people have a negative view of Downtown Jax, and I don’t understand why. It’s great to see the effort that people are putting into revitalizing our city center.

What are your favorite things to do Downtown?

I’m still learning my way around, but I love all of the restaurant and bar options. My New Year’s resolution this year is to go to every restaurant on Jacksonville Magazine’s list of top 50 restaurants. So many of the restaurants on that list are in this area. Only a few months and a lot more restaurants to go!

For information on all Downtown residences, including the new 220 Riverside, visit DVI’s living spaces directory at dtjax.org.

Jason Hunnicut is one of three owners of 1904 Music Hall and the adjoining Spliff's Gastropub, opening this fall.

Jason Hunnicutt is one of three owners of 1904 Music Hall and the adjoining Spliff’s Gastropub, opening this fall. Photo by DVI.

From 2008 to 2011, Jason Hunnicutt got a glimpse of what Downtown Jacksonville’s entertainment district could be. A member of the band Greenhouse Lounge, he toured the Southeast playing in the region’s top music scenes.

“We were seeing all of those awesome cities and awesome music scenes,” he said. “Jax needed this.”

When he left the band to settle down, he decided to call Downtown home, living the life of a Jacksonville urbanite. His “rosy eyes” for Downtown – thanks to a steadfast love for the urban core – spurred Hunnicutt and his former bandmate, Duane De Castro, to start a Jacksonville version of those Southeast music scenes they admired.

Hunnicutt and De Castro soon recruited friend Brian Eisele to join their new business venture: a live music venue with impressive bands and an equally impressive tap list.

“We all love music and beer, thus the concept was born,” Hunnicutt said. Now they just needed a location. After looking at spots in Springfield, San Marco and Riverside, De Castro serendipitously stumbled upon a historic building on Ocean Street with a “for rent” sign posted.

Interior of 1904 Music Hall. Photo provided by the venue.

Interior of 1904 Music Hall. Photo provided by the venue.

Turns out, that building – constructed in 1904 – was the perfect venue for their concept with its large open floorplan, back patio space and front sidewalk on a major thoroughfare Downtown. And as luck would have it, the spot also inspired their venue’s name: 1904 Music Hall.

“I love knowing that from 1880 to 1965 or so this city was a thriving metropolis,” De Castro said. “The idea that we are part of that history and are in the process of making our own history is a great honor.”

The first year was slow-going, Hunnicutt admits. Their focus was simply building relationships with bands, fellow business owners and the community at large.

“I looked at it as an investment in not just my future but my friends’ future,” Hunnicutt said. As 2012 progressed, they booked bigger bands and found 1904 Music Hall listed on larger show rosters.

“It kind of snowballed from there,” Hunnicutt said. “We thought, ‘OK, where are going to be here awhile.’”

In 2014, that realization sparked an interest in the spot next door. The first idea was simply to expand the music hall. They went back and forth with concepts for months, ultimately determining Downtown needed another lunch, dinner and, especially, a late-night eats spot.

Co-owner Jason Hunnicut and Spliff's mural.

Co-owner Jason Hunnicutt and Spliff’s mural.

Build-out started earlier this year on Spliff’s Gastropub, which is scheduled to open in just a few weeks after final inspections are scheduled and completed.

“I am very excited about the concept we’ve put together,” De Castro said. “I think the atmosphere of Spliff’s will be a unique and fun experience for our guests. I am proud we are going to be the first true gastropub in Downtown Jacksonville.”

Featuring original brick walls and reclaimed wood paneling, Spliff’s will have craft beers, international wines and sake, a Southern comfort menu (with vegan options), table seating, bar-like window seating overlooking Ocean Street, and beer-garden access out back. Menu highlights include 20 flavors of macaroni and cheese, baked chicken wings and West-Coast-style tri-tip roast beef, with the full menu under the direction of Daniel Johnson, a classically trained chef from San Diego.

“We are a big believer of putting aces in their places,” Hunnicutt said.

Speaking of aces in their places, you could say the same for De Castro, Eisele and Hunnicutt in relation to Downtown. As urban-core business owners soon opening another business next door, the trio took a risk on Downtown, helping cultivate a district of nightlife pioneers in what is now known as The Elbow.

“The development is everywhere,” Eisele said. “New businesses are recognizing the potential in Downtown and are looking for chances to contribute. People are coming through our doors and often ask us: “When did Downtown become so cool?”

View from the entrance of Spliff's.

View from the entrance of Spliff’s. Photo by DVI.

DeCastro agrees.

“I am excited for the future of Downtown,” he said. “We have all seen the progress over the last few years, and I believe we have already reached the tipping point. Major players are starting to take notice, and once the Cowford Chophouse is open, I think we will see an explosion of new bars and restaurants on The Elbow, which will forever change the city landscape.”

When can you get your first bites of Spliff’s Gastropub? Hunnicutt said the announcement will come soon to its official website and Facebook page. Tonight, Aug. 27, the trio is hosting a fundraiser to ease the build-out costs burden. (Enter the raffle for a chance to win free food for an entire year at Spliff’s!)

If you need a summary on why you should check out this new hangout opening soon Downtown, we’ll let Eisele do the honors: “Good food, good beers, and great people! Another reason to check out The Elbow.”

by: admin in Weekly Update No Comments  
The following is this week’s issue of the “#DTJax Weekly Update” e-newsletter. To receive this in your email inbox each week, sign-up here.

****************************************************************************************

Instagram of the Week

 

Photo by @apratt605

imageTag your Downtown photo #DTJax for a chance to be featured.

****************************************************************************************

Things To Do Downtown

 

icons-nightlifeLive Music + Nightlife

Aug. 27: The Elbow Social

Aug. 28: Tribal Seeds

Aug. 28: Purple Party: A Celebration of Prince

Aug. 28: The Outlaws and Blackhawk

 

 

icons-business-networkingBusiness + Networking

Aug. 27: Unearthing the Secrets of Old Homes

Aug. 27: JAMA: Don’t Leave Your Brand Exposed – with Adam Schaffer

Aug. 28: Tech Coast Conference

 

 

icons-art-cultureArts + Culture

Aug. 29: The Wiz

Aug. 30: Summer Movie Classics: Dances With Wolves

 

 

 

family-funFamily Fun

Aug. 29: First LEGO League Robotics Kickoff

Aug. 29: Riverside Arts Market: River Ruckus

 

 

 

icons-fitnessSports + Fitness

Aug. 28: Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Detroit Lions

Aug. 29: Lung Force Run/Walk

Aug. 29: Jacksonville Armada vs. San Antonio Scorpions

 

 

 

  • Check out the Events Calendar on our website, which features more than 160 events Downtown this week.
  • From candy classes to karaoke, any given day Downtown, there’s something going on. Check out our Ongoing Events list.

 

****************************************************************************************

Stories From BlogDTJax.com

 

photo 2

****************************************************************************************

 News of the Week

 

 

****************************************************************************************

 DVI Updates

 

Score big with The Elbow Tailgate this September 

The Elbow, DVI and the Jaguars are joining forces on Sept. 20 for The Elbow Tailgate, a game-day package providing fans with free parking, transportation, and pre- and post-game tailgating festivities in Downtown’s entertainment district. For as little as $100, fans receive:

  • One ticket to the Jaguars vs. Dolphins game (you choose your seats in select 100s, 200s or 400s levels!)
  • Shuttle rides between The Elbow and EverBank Field
  • Free parking at the Yates Garage
  • Nonstop drink specials throughout The Elbow

Reserve your seat today at theelbowjax.com/tailgate. Go Jags!

Join us for “The Elbow Social” every Thursday 

Each week, “The Elbow Social” features extended happy hours and drink specials across 10+ venues, accompanied by live music and special programming. For a list of promotions – including exclusive discounts for Downtown employees – visit theelbowjax.com/social.

Volunteer at Art Walk next Wednesday

Looking for a new – and fun! – volunteer opportunity? We’re recruiting volunteers to help with our “Dog Days of Summer” Art Walk next Wednesday, Sept. 2. Learn more, and sign up to volunteer here.

by: admin in Weekly Update No Comments  
The following is this week’s issue of the “#DTJax Weekly Update” e-newsletter. To receive this in your email inbox each week, sign-up here.

****************************************************************************************

Instagram of the Week

 

Photo by @stuntrunner1Screen shot 2015-08-18 at 9.27.12 AMTag your Downtown photo #DTJax for a chance to be featured.

****************************************************************************************

Things To Do Downtown


 

 

Arts + Culture

 

 

Family Fun


Sports + Fitness

 

 

 

  • Check out the Events Calendar on our website, which features more than 180 events Downtown this week.
  • From candy classes to karaoke, any given day Downtown, there’s something going on. Check out our Ongoing Events list.

****************************************************************************************

Stories From BlogDTJax.com

 

a1-1024x678

****************************************************************************************

 News of the Week

 

 

****************************************************************************************

 DVI Updates

 

DVI to host Stakeholders Meeting this Thursday morning 
Downtown Vision, Inc. will host its quarterly Stakeholders Meeting this Thursday at 8:30 a.m. in the Ed Ball Building’s First Floor Training Room at 214 N. Hogan St. All Downtown stakeholders are invited to attend the approximately hour-long meeting, which will include updates from DVI and the Downtown Investment Authority, plus a Q&A session. For more information, email jennifer@dtjax.org.

 

Elbow Social MapJoin us for “The Elbow Social” every Thursday
Each week, “The Elbow Social” features extended happy hours and drink specials across 10+ venues, accompanied by live music and special programming. For a list of promotions – including exclusive discounts for Downtown employees – visit theelbowjax.com/social.

 

DVI Fall Interns: apply today!
We’re currently recruiting for fall interns! If you’re a college student who wants to gain marketing and communications experience – and a love for #DTJax – learn how to apply.

Below is the cover story from the Jacksonville Business Journal‘s Aug. 7 issue.

 

By Timothy Gibbons, editor and chief, Jacksonville Business Journal

cp*750xx3893-2190-58-0

Jacob Gordon is the new CEO of Downtown Vision Inc. Photo by James Crichlow.

Jake Gordon shook the water from his hair as he slid onto a chair at The Volstead, a bar in the heart of Downtown.

Gordon has been spending a lot of time walking the urban core, but when the rain caught him this time, the new executive director of Downtown Vision Inc. was on his way over from a meeting at the Jacksonville Landing.

Deciding what to do with the structure is the job of the public-private partnership — but it’s one of the conversations that Gordon believes DVI needs to be involved in.

It’s not the only one.

“How private property owner are interacting with the City of Jacksonville to make Downtown better — that interaction is one of the most important,” he said.

In his new job, Gordon represents the property owners — public and private, businesses and nonprofits — who will make the very center of the urban core succeed or fail.

He oversees a 90-block area that contains 500 properties, charged with helping to make the area clean and safe, to market it, to make it a place where people want to come and where businesses can thrive.

A few weeks into the job, Gordon sat sipping a ginger beer at one of Downtown’s newest hotspots while talking widely about what brought him to this point in his life.

After a bit of prodding, talk turns to the future. What does success at DVI look like for the New Jersey native?

Gordon pauses: With less than three months on the job, he doesn’t want to commit to anything too precise; defining the goals of Downtown Vision more exactly is part of his mission.

Whatever those goals are, though, he knows how Downtown will have to get there: By getting all the entities that deal with the area on the same page.

“If we’re all pulling in one direction and communicating clearly and we’re a part of that, that alone will be success for us,” he said.

The bigger picture: Seeing Downtown grow.

He’s not doing economic development like he was in his last job, but that doesn’t mean he’s not interested in seeing the economy develop.

“You talk to our property owners, what do they want? They want property values to go up,” he said. “You know who else would love to see higher property values? DVI.”

Working Together

Leaning forward in a chair at CoWork Jax recently, Jake Gordon speaks animatedly about Hemming Park and why it matters to Jacksonville.

It’s a casual conversation for the newly hired executive director of Downtown Vision Inc., who’s here to continue forging relationship with Downtown denizens. Talk bounces from the park to the Laura Street Trio, from Art Walk to innovative offices.

Things are looking good in the urban core, he said to the group, all of whom are interested in Downtown.

But then he turns a bit serious, explaining where the area has to go: “We have to be a little bit better than we are now.”Getting various organizations moving toward some common goals was a key part of Gordon’s last job, as vice president of business development at Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, an organization dedicated to revitalizing Camden, New Jersey.

Gordon was attracted to the partnership — like Downtown Vision, a private nonprofit organization focused on the urban core — because he saw it as a chance to give back in a way that could help the area’s entire economy grow.

“It married the economic development activities every city should be looking for with this philanthropy angle and a grassroots coordination with the community, which is how every planning exercise should be,” he said.

His strength there was bringing together different players in the efforts to revitalize the area, from real estate developers and entrepreneurs to governmental and quasi-governmental agencies.

Perhaps his crowning achievement: helping lure the Philadelphia 76ers’ practice facility and team headquarters to the area.

After the state committed to an $82 million incentive package, the team said it would build the largest training facility in the NBA along the banks of the Delaware River.

Gordon was “instrumental” in that project, said Anthony Perno III, CEO of the Cooper’s Ferry Partnership.

“A lot of the projects that we brought here he was involved with in a number of capacities,” Perno said. “It was significant. People really miss him.”

At the end of last year, Subaru of America Inc. announced it was moving its headquarters to Camden, and the city is the frontrunner for American Water Works’ headquarters.

Other successes include helping set up a co-working/incubator space, a project praised by those hoping to jump-start Camden’s tech scene.

“He’s a thorough collaborator,” said Sandy Johnson, executive director of the Camden Redevelopment Agency. “He’s got a great skill for completion.”

The essentials

For all that Camden has some similarities to Jacksonville — it, too, has a river running through it, although it’s managed to get rid of the prison that used to sit along the water — Gordon takes pains to explain that his job is different here.

In Camden, the Cooper’s Ferry Partnership subsumed a lot of functions, including working as a sort of de facto arm of the city.

Here, an array of organizations are involved with Downtown: Jax Chamber , the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville , the Jacksonville Civic Council , the Downtown Investment Authority, Visit Jacksonville , Riverside Avondale Preservation — Gordon rattles off the list like he’s been using flashcards.

“In my past job, communication with the city was essential,” he said. “Here, communication between all those entities is very essential. DVI is not going to do anything in a vacuum to drastically improve Jacksonville, but altogether we are.”

The biggest of those partners is the Downtown Investment Authority, the independent authority the Alvin Brown administration set up four years ago.

The establishment of the authority was a major step for the urban core, although it took two years to bring on an executive director and the entity has nowhere near the funding it would require to carry out all of its plans.

It also led to some soul-searching by Downtown Vision, which heretofore had been the biggest voice on such issues.

“Our mission needed to change to be a supportive mission to the DIA,” Gordon said. “We’re very complementary to each other.”

Most of Downtown Vision’s $1.2 million budget comes from a fee the Downtown property owners assess on themselves. Much of the money is used for the clean and safe mission — “dirty and dangerous wasn’t working,” Gordon jokes — including hiring the orange-clad ambassadors who are a constant presence Downtown.

It also markets the area and is responsible for events like Art Walk, the success of which is perhaps DVI’s biggest accomplisment.

Creating such events should be an even bigger part of its role, said Downtown Investment Authority CEO Aundra Wallace, an ex-officio member of DVI’s board.

“I challenged them to make the experience of Downtown so vast and so great that people during the day would want to get out of the office and come and partake in Downtown,” he said.

Wallace voted to hire Gordon, in part because of the new CEO’s role in creating experiences in his old job.

“I got a flavor that he did those type of social mixtures in Camden,” Wallace said. “Knowing Camden, that’s not easy to do. If he can do that in Camden, with the momentum we have going on, Jake can bring that same energy and it will take off.”

Downtown importance

Gordon didn’t start off his career revitalizing downtowns.

After getting his law degree at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, he spent three years with O’Melveny & Myers LLP in Los Angeles, a firm considered one of the 25 most prestigious in the country.

But he had interned as a public defender, and after a few years with the firm, he was drawn to something involving public service, he realized.

That brought him back east, to Camden, to “the poorest and most dangerous city in America.”

“I wanted to look back on my life later and be proud of what I did,” he said. “At some level of litigation, you’re pushing back and forth on hours and money and the only people who win are the lawyers.”

He took a pay cut to do so — he’s still not back to the $125,000 he made as a starting associate — but the successes he had in Camden made it worthwhile. (The DVI job pays $115,000 a year.)

Jacksonville doesn’t need the same level of help, obviously — but that reality can paradoxically make the job of improvement more difficult.

“When places really bottom out, there’s more resources. We didn’t have to sell people on the need in Camden,” he said.

The situation in Jacksonville is more attractive than a 40 percent poverty rate and a college-educated population under 10 percent, the sort of situation Camden was dealing with.

But that can make it harder to push through change, Gordon said, with the status quo more attractive.

Nevertheless, he’s optimistic change can happen: “I wouldn’t have taken the job otherwise. I think Jacksonville is on the rise.”

A decade from now, he said, Jacksonville will be a “hugely robust city,” with its Downtown fueling that growth.

“Downtown is always the center of that,” he said. “As Downtown goes, Jacksonville goes.”