Downtown Vision, Inc., along with other community leaders, released an 18-month summary on the state and growth of Downtown Jacksonville. The report explores development, office and employments trends, residential growth, retail, arts and culture, tourism, transportation and more. #DTJax has had quite the year and a half!

Download the entire State of Downtown report PDF here. Hard copies are available at Downtown Vision’s office during business hours, Monday to Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. at 214 N. Hogan St., Suite 120. Visit our website or #DTJax app for more information on all things #DTJax.


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By Lindsay Forrest, DVI Intern

Photo Credit: Jessie duPont Fund

Photo Credit: Jessie duPont Fund

Since the first National Woman’s Week in 1981, the United States has dedicated the month of March to honor and appreciate powerful women who changed the course of history and led us to a contemporary society. We celebrate all facets of achievements by women – including contributions to history, society and culture. We’d like to take a moment to recognize the Jessie Ball duPont Center in #DTJax for Women’s History month this year.

In order to understand the history behind the Jessie Ball duPont Center, we must understand Jessie Ball duPont. A teacher, philanthropist and “Great Floridian” – duPont was born in Virginia in 1884. Throughout her life, she focused on business and charitable activities central to her core values and beliefs.

Some of these contributions include:

  • Founder of the Nemours Foundation – a children’s hospital in Delaware, including a branch just south of #DTJax
  • Founder of Alfred I. duPont Foundation – to assist underpriviledged people in Delaware, Florida and Virgina
  • Founder of the Alfred I. duPont Awards Foundation – to recognize outstanding contributions in the field of broadcast journalism
  • Gifted colleges and universities with faculty salaries and libraries

When duPont died in 1970, she left her will and estate of $42 million for the creation of the Jessie Ball duPont Foundation. The foundation grants eligible organizations, creates new opportunities through investment and focuses on projects central to duPont’s philanthropic values.

Photo Credit: Jessie Ball duPont Center

Photo Credit: Jessie Ball duPont Center

Originally the Haydon Burns Public Library designed by notable Jacksonville architect Taylor Hardwick, the Jessie duPont Foundation purchased this historic mid-century building in #DTJax in 2005 and began a $25-million renovation to transform the space into the Jessie Ball duPont Center. The center focuses on philanthropy and non-profits in the heart of Downtown Jacksonville.

The duPont Center’s achievements include:

  • Houses 12 local non-profits and more than 200 employees
  • Offers low occupancy costs to non-profits to allow more funding to ideas and revitalization
  • Utilized green-building and LEED certified practices throughout the renovation, and became a top case study for adaptive reuse in #DTJax
  • Unites local non-profits in a collaborative and inspiring environment
Photo Credit: Jessie Ball duPont Center

Photo Credit: Jessie Ball duPont Center

The center also rents out space for community organizations, civic groups and individuals. To learn more about reservations, tenants or how to get involved, check the website here.

On March 19, The Jessie Ball duPont Fund received the Downtown Achievement Award of the year for 2016 at DVI’s inaugural Urban Oasis Gala. We are looking forward to seeing new innovations, ideas and energy from local non-profits to better #DTJax from the revitalization of this mid-century historic building into the Jessie Ball duPont Center.





By Lindsay Forrest, DVI Intern

Photo Credit: Pavement to Parks

Photo Credit: Pavement to Parks

When I first heard the term “parklet” in a meeting, I was just as confused as you might be. What are these “parklets”? How can a pavement project enhance Jacksonville? How do they create cultural vibrancy in urban areas?

By definition, a parklet is an extension of the sidewalk – usually installed into parking lanes to make use of several parking spaces for a proposed project. In urban cities, we are continually seeing the introduction of parklets to increase metropolitan appeal, provide space, offer amenities and encourage outdoor activities. The purpose of these modern parks is to gather people for a place to sit, rest, eat, drink and enjoy themselves outside.

The first public parklet was created in San Francisco in 2010 and since then, many other cities including Phoenix, Philadelphia, Oakland, San Jose, Dallas and Seattle have created their own versions of these sidewalk parks. They typically have umbrellas, benches, tables, chairs and bike racks characterized by greenery, murals and innovative design. Not only do parklets offer amenities to local citizens, they also increase the vibrancy of the community and urban culture in a downtown atmosphere.

Photo Credit: Pavement to Parks

Photo Credit: Pavement to Parks

Benefits of parklets include:

  • Supporting local businesses
  • Encourage the use of sustainable transportation
  • Influence the atmosphere and ambiance
  • Offer a place for friends and families to gather
  • Enhance pedestrian safety and standards
  • Offer a place to eat, drink, read, study, and enjoy the environment

Check out the Pavement to Parks project created by San Francisco’s city agencies to get a better understanding of what they truly are. The city of San Francisco is the ultimate trailblazer in these modern, outdoor spaces. They recently installed a parklet outside of the Museum of Craft and Design. With many businesses and residences, the city has invested in creating a vibrant commercial district along the 3rd street corridor. This parklet utilizes metal and stout to provide benches that span the length of the parklet. Here are some examples:

Museum of Craft and Design

Photo Credit: Pavement to Parks


Location: 2659 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Installed: October 2015

Designed by: Bionic Landscape Architecture

Hosted by: Museum of Craft and Design





Photo Credit: Pavement to Parks

Photo Credit: Pavement to Parks


Location: 200 Columbus Ave St, San Francisco, CA 94133  show map

Installed: April 2014

Designed by: Cameron HellandSagan Piechota Architecture

Hosted by: Reveille Coffee Co





Photo Credit: Pavement to Parklets

Photo Credit: Pavement to Parklets


Location: 423 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133  show map

Installed: October 2010

Designed by: Rebar Group

Hosted by: Caffe Greco




Looking for a way to support a local parklet program in #DTJax? Attend our Urban Oasis Gala on Saturday March 19, at 100 N. Laura. Celebrate #DTJax with cocktails, dining and dancing with live music from the Chris Thomas Band! Safari and khaki attire is highly encouraged. Purchase tickets here for $150 per person or learn more about sponsorships here. All proceeds from the Downtown Gala will benefit a local parklet program in #DTJax.

Photo Credit: Downtown Vision

Photo Credit: Downtown Vision



By Lindsay Forrest, DVI Intern


All photos taken by DVI

On January 28, 2015, the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission held a press conference to debate another demolition of a historical site in Downtown Jacksonville. Located directly across from the Basilica of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, the Elena Flats building is a historical landmark distinguished by original glass windows, rustic cherry red hardwood floors and decades of history.

After the Great Fire of 1901, which damaged more than 2,368 buildings in the heart of Downtown Jacksonville, the city reconstructed more than 146 city blocks. Among the restoration, the city built a 22-room inexpensive boarding house for local residents called the Elena Flats. The rooming house offered close access to local job opportunities, businesses, restaurants, bars and numerous activities creating a surplus of economic growth for the recovering metropolitan area.

Fast forward 107 years later and the elenaElena Flats building is still standing on East Duval Street. Do not let the caution tape, abandoned rooms, and scaffolding equipment turn you away from this hidden beauty. The previous owner applied for a permit to tear down the building and convert it into another parking lot. Fortunately, current owners Jack Meeks and his wife, JoAnn Tredennick marveled at the significance and beauty of the Elena Flats property hidden deep underneath the fragments. The age, history and importance of the building made it eligible for a complete renovation and noted as a historical preservation site in Jacksonville.


Following the renovation, the Elena Flats will house four luxury condominiums complete with private patios, luminous skylights and spiraling staircases. In order to still embody all the history of Elena Flats, the restoration plans utilize the original hardwood floors, skylights and tile flooring. The renovations will be completed and ready to rent in early 2017.

We are excited to witness the restoration of this hidden local gem planned for early next year in #DTJax!


by: Admin in Advocacy, Developments No Comments  


The North Florida chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) hosted its January 2040 Talks on January 7th at the University of North Florida. The conference room was packed to hear from Mark Lamping, President of the Jacksonville Jaguars, David Ribeiro from the American Council for Energy-Efficient Economy and Dr. Charles Moreland, Chief Resiliency Officer for the City of Jacksonville Office of the Mayor.


The speakers covered different topics ranging from Everbank Field scoreboards to emergency evacuation plans, but one common theme was found in each speech: the importance of #DTJax to the vision, growth and energy of Jacksonville.

Mark Lamping repeatedly noted the importance of #DTJax to the Jaguars. “The Jaguars will go as far as Downtown goes.” Lamping also pointed out that Downtown is the identifying place for all of Jacksonville, so the new amphitheater and multi-purpose building plans for the shipyards will act as a “front door” to Downtown. At the end of the day, “The Jaguars will benefit from a vibrant Downtown.” Thank you Mark, we agree!

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David Ribeiro, a senior analyst at the ACEEE in Washington D.C. spoke about the organization’s results of the 2015 City Energy Efficiency Scorecard,  in which Jacksonville received 26 points, placing 40th out of 51 major cities around the country. This is a significant increase from last years score and Ribeiro pointed to community initiatives and responsible transportation, like the 2030 Mobility Plan, to explain the rise in energy efficiency. Transportation includes #DTJax’s multimodal transportation system including the new First Coast Flyer and modernization of the Skyway.

Dr. Charles Moreland has dedicated his life to public service and his focus on emergency preparedness and resiliency at the 2040 Talks also highlighted #DTJax. While Moreland mostly discussed surviving and adapting despite shocks to the community, he also discussed the importance of taking care of our homeless and vulnerable populations. Moreland explained that Mayor Lenny Curry is “committed to getting that number to zero.” Dr. Moreland concluded saying that economic growth can only happen if we have a safe city.  If you’d like to learn more about cleanliness and safety in #DTJax, check out the Downtown Ambassador program! 

The USGBC NF chapter holds four of these 2040 Talks a year, offering diverse perspectives on how to create a fully sustainable community by the year 2040. For more information, follow USGBC NF on Facebook or check out the website to stay up to date on green events all throughout the year!


by: Katherine Hardwick in Developments No Comments  

Section of Northbank Riverwalk Temporarily Closed
January 5 – Early March 2016

JEA is undertaking an infrastructure improvement project that will close a portion of the Northbank Riverwalk between Hogan and Newnan streets beginning January 5th though early March. JEA will be starting construction to rehabilitate an existing 54-inch sanitary sewer line that has reached the end of its service life. This sewer line is a vital piece of JEA’s sewer infrastructure that serves a large portion of Downtown Jacksonville and The Jacksonville Landing. This construction work will not impact the day to day operations of The Jacksonville Landing, its businesses, and its surface parking area. Full details of this project can be found at


Major Traffic Shift Upcoming for Northbound Traffic on I-95 Overland Bridge Project

Jacksonville – A major traffic shift on the I-95 Overland Bridge project is coming up the weekend of January 8-10 which will result in northbound traffic moving to new lanes, detours for Atlantic Boulevard and Philips Highway motorists and temporary closure of Main Street and Acosta ramps.

By Monday, January 11, before rush hour begins, all lanes on northbound I-95 from the San Diego Road overpass to just south of the Fuller Warren Bridge will be shifted to a new roadway which will allow the existing bridge to be reconstructed. The tentative schedule, subject to change, is as follows:

  • Friday, January 8 – Main Street/Prudential Drive and Acosta ramps closed in the evening hours and Atlantic Boulevard and Philips Highway on-ramps closed with traffic detoured (see attached map).
  • Saturday, January 9 – I-95 northbound reduced to two lanes beginning in the evening hours. Main Street and Acosta ramps reopen on new roadway between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. and then close again overnight. Atlantic Boulevard and Philips Highway on-ramps continue to be closed with detours.
  • Sunday, January 10 – I-95 northbound continues to be reduced to two lanes. Main Street and Acosta ramps reopen on new roadway between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. and then close again overnight. Atlantic Boulevard and Philips Highway on-ramps continue to be closed with detours.
  • Monday, January 11 – I-95 northbound opens with three lanes on new roadway; Atlantic Boulevard and Philips Highway on-ramps reopened; Main Street/Prudential Drive and Acosta on-ramps also open.

At no time will I-95 traffic be detoured off the interstate. Southbound I-95 traffic will not be impacted at this time but is scheduled to be switched to new lanes in the Spring.

Signs will direct traffic onto the new roadway, which will ultimately be used as a local service road allowing traffic to enter and exit I-95 in short segments, rather than mix with I-95 thru-traffic. Law enforcement will also be on site to provide additional traffic control. Motorists are reminded that the speed limit is 45 mph and to use extra caution during the first few days of the traffic shift to allow everyone to become familiar with the new traffic pattern.

This effort removes all traffic from the northbound I-95 Overland Bridge so it can be replaced. The original structure was built in the 1950s and designed for much less traffic than it carries today. The closure allows traffic to be removed from the older structure earlier and reduces impact to motorists caused by routine maintenance on the existing northbound Overland Bridge. The shift is another milestone toward completion of this major project scheduled for late 2016.

Up-to-date lane closure information is available on the I-95 Overland Bridge replacement project website at A project hotline number has been established to assist the public with questions and concerns: 904-491-2110.

Overland Bridge Update Map


Sign up to receive regular alerts from DVI’s Downtown Information and Safety Network here

by: admin in Developments No Comments  

There’s a new name on the top of a Southbank structure – an exciting shift in hotel presence Downtown. Last month, the Crowne Plaza was officially turned over as a DoubleTree by Hilton hotel. After about a year of renovations, the DoubleTree by Hilton Jacksonville Riverfront is ready to not only serve out-of-town guests but also business meetings, events and staycationers. Kerry Boatwright, marketing manager for the DoubleTree, recently gave DVI a tour of the newly remodeled hotel and shared some neat fun facts.

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What are some fun facts about the hotel? Any notable personalities who’ve stayed there or other trivia to share?

We’ve hosted quite the range of celebrities over the years, from presidents to foreign dignitaries. During Jacksonville’s Super Bowl in 2005, we hosted more celebrities at one time than we ever have before, as we were the entertainment headquarters. We hosted Kelly Clarkson, Outkast, Kanye West, The Black Eyed Peas, among several others. 

Most notably, we were known as Elvis Presley’s second home during his reign as the king. He stayed at the hotel during each of his tour stops in Jacksonville, and it’s rumored he would rent out our presidential suite for weeks at a time to seek solitude – so much so that the hotel renovated the suite after his passing and named it in his honor as The Elvis Presley Suite. It was complete with shag carpet and had gold records adorning the walls. However, the suite has been renovated several times since then and is known simply as Suite 1010 today.

The hotel sits on land that was once Dixieland Park, billed as “The Coney Island of the South,” in the early 1900s. Dixieland featured amusement rides and its famous ostrich races. The park stretched from Treaty Oak to the river during its heyday but closed during the Great Depression in the 1930s.


The lobby

The lobby and its chandelier

What’s been the coolest part about the Crowne Plaza to DoubleTree transformation?

Seeing guests and locals react to the transformation has been the coolest part of the conversion to DoubleTree. We’ve experienced a complete transformation inside the hotel, making it nearly unrecognizable. Those of us who work here have seen things move along and progress, but if you haven’t stepped foot in the building since renovations started, it really is a “wow” moment. 

It’s also been quite cool to see our final look come together. We really wanted to capture the metropolitan surroundings of Downtown Jacksonville and blend it with our coastal surroundings – from the river to the beach. You can find elements of all of this in local photography, the driftwood-planked floors and the mid-century modern furnishings that reflect the history of the building itself. 

We also wanted to highlight the building’s unique mid-century modern architecture by restoring the original look of the soaring two-story columns in the hotel lobby and by retaining the original chandelier in the lobby atrium.  

Do you offer any staycation packages and/or discounts for locals?

At special times throughout the year, we offer a Florida Resident Package that includes breakfast for two adults and two kids, premium Wi-Fi and 5% off standard rates. We also offer a Celebration Package that has been really popular with locals. It includes champagne upon arrival, breakfast for two adults and late check-out.

Can you tell me about the hotel’s St. John’s Provision Co. and the hotel lounges?

We’ll always be home to Jacksonville’s Ruth’s Chris Steak House, but locals don’t always know that we offer a hotel restaurant for all-day dining as well. Our new concept is St. John’s Provision Co. Provision – meaning to provide food and beverage for a journey, is exactly at the core of what we do at St. John’s Provision Co. We wanted to provide travelers food and beverage for their journey but food and beverage that has a taste of Jacksonville and local influence. You’ll find that we serve up a lot of Southern and coastal cuisine with menu items like fried-green tomatoes, Mayport shrimp and cheddar grits, chicken and waffles with apple slaw and blueberry barbecue sauce, a lump crab cake sandwich, and our signature mac-n-cheese-stuffed fried chicken with kale slaw and bacon jam. For breakfast, we serve made from scratch organic muffins, Greek yogurt parfaits with housemade granola, and Southern staples like biscuits and sausage gravy. And in our room service menu, we highlight all of our locally influenced items on a “Local Dish” page.

Our bar, The Lounge at St. Johns, has been completely relocated from its original spot in the lobby and offers a more intimate environment with several couches, televisions and local brews from Bold City. And the Riverview Lounge at Ruth’s Chris serves up one of the finest happy hours in town with great poolside and river views.



What are typically guests’ favorite amenities of the hotel?

Guests are loving the ability to stay connected. With our renovation, we enhanced our Internet speeds, added four additional power outlets in all guest rooms, added convenient charging stations in our lobby, and added power outlets to each booth in St. John’s Provision Co. We even added a connectivity zone in the lobby that has a communal table with USB charging station, outlets and two complimentary computers. Guests also have the ability to print remotely from anywhere in the hotel.

Skyline views on the pool deck

Skyline views on the pool deck

We also doubled the size of our fitness center and added all new Precor fitness equipment. Our guests have been raving about it since it opened.

Guests also love our riverfront, walk-out balconies. And we’re a favorite for July Fourth and the light parade because of it. 

Our dining options have been a hit, too – with room service, two restaurants and two lounges. And of course, our signature DoubleTree chocolate chip cookies are all the rage.


What’s the story behind those cookies? Is that a Hilton tradition, and if so, do you know how it began?

There’s something special about a warm, yummy chocolate chip cookie. And it seems to transcend all cultures. We think of it as a “warm welcome,” which is why we give one to every guest as they check in. 

DoubleTree started the “cookie welcome” in the early 1980s when most hotels reserved treats like these for VIPs. DoubleTree started handing them out to everyone because we think every guest is a VIP. The Christie Cookie Company has been the keeper of the secret cookie recipe. Every DoubleTree hotel follows this recipe and exact baking instructions to the letter to ensure you get the same delicious experience no matter which DoubleTree you visit. Cookies are baked fresh every day throughout the day at every hotel all over the world, from Canada to China. That’s why they taste so good! Each cookie is approximately two full ounces of delicious-ness and is filled with an average of 20 chocolate chips – that’s more than 950,000 pounds of chocolate chips every year!

How do you think having such a recognizable hotel brand now Downtown will affect Downtown for the better?

Having a major Downtown hotel supported by the Hilton brand is a huge win for Jacksonville as a whole. Hilton is an industry leader that raises the bar high and sets the standard in both product offerings and service – creating a stellar reputation that travelers know they can rely on. And for us, the DoubleTree by Hilton brand was the right fit. The brand is upscale, fresh, innovative, and does it all while remaining approachable. We’re excited about what our completely overhauled and contemporary product will be able to offer Downtown.


For more information on the DoubleTree by Hilton Jacksonville Riverfront, visit or call 904-398-8800. You can also follow the hotel on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.