IDA New Logo 2-9-10Announced this week in San Francisco at the International Downtown Association‘s annual conference, Downtown Vision, Inc., Downtown Jacksonville’s business improvement district, is the recipient of two Merit awards within the 2015 Downtown Achievement Awards. The IDA award recognizes excellence in the areas of innovation, representation and sustainability.

DVI submitted award applications for two categories, “Public Space” and “Marketing and Communications.” The first project, “Hemming Park Revitalization,” was submitted for DVI’s work in the formation of Friends of Hemming Park (FOHP) last fall and for the strides made by FOHP in improving the park thus far. DVI – in partnership with the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville and Dr. Wayne Wood – was a critical component in jump-starting the revitalization of this central public space.

A packed Hemming Park during the monthly First Wednesday Art Walk

A packed Hemming Park during the monthly First Wednesday Art Walk

By guiding the concept through the legislative process, board development, fundraising and staffing, DVI is thrilled to witness how Friends of Hemming Park continues to bring vibrancy to a park that struggled for decades. Today, DVI CEO Jake Gordon works closely with FOHP as a member of the organization’s board of directors. DVI also provides Ambassador clean and safe services for the park seven days a week.

To read the “Hemming Park Revitalization” IDA Merit award project summary, click here.

You can also download the full presentation here.

The second Merit award was bestowed in the category “Marketing and Communications” for DVI’s “#DTJax Twitter Promoter Program.” The application outlined the social-media campaign aimed to debunk Downtown myths through authentic Twitter conversations, tracked using the hashtag #DTJax.


Social-media snapshots of some of DVI’s #DTJax Twitter promoters.

Running from November 2013 to April 2014, the Promoter Program targeted @DTJax’s most influential Twitter followers, educating them on Downtown Jacksonville’s biggest misconceptions and offering incentives – tickets, bar tabs, etc. donated by Downtown businesses – to encourage Promoters to spend more time Downtown and tweeting authentically about their experiences.

A snapshot of the Twitter campaign’s impact:

3To read the “#DTJax Twitter Promoter Program” IDA Merit award project summary, click here.

You can also download the full presentation here.

DVI would like to thank all of their partners and friends involved in these two efforts as well as the International Downtown Association for the recognition. It’s partnerships with and support from like-minded, hardworking urban enthusiasts that truly make an impact on creating better cities, #DTJax included.

After a decade on the Southside, the Cathedral Arts Project has returned home to Downtown. Founded in 1993 at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral, the non-profit organization works to provide access to visual and performing-arts instruction for underserved, school-aged children. Thrilled that CAP is once again Downtown, we recently caught up with CAP Chief Operating Officer Forrest Holland, who oversaw the relocation to and interior design of their new space Downtown.


The common area at CAP's new Downtown office.

The common area at CAP’s new Downtown office. Photos by DVI.

Why did CAP want to return back to Downtown?

At such a pivotal moment in CAP’s history, it never felt more appropriate to return to the core of Downtown. We made a conscious decision to position our new headquarters in closer proximity to our civic, community and cultural partners. Not only does the urban core give CAP higher visibility, but also it reflects our long-term commitment to Jacksonville’s future and participation in Downtown revitalization.

Why did you all decide on the Elks building?

If you can believe it, this was a two-year search. While there were numerous buildings with available space Downtown, very few fit our desired criteria when looking for a permanent home. When we learned about the availability of the third floor in the Elks Building, we were elated! After our first visit, I knew I wanted to do anything possible to secure this space for CAP.

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20120907-DSC_3766_67_68_69_70_web The Emergency Services and Homeless Coalition of Northeast Florida (ESHC) recently released data from its annual count of homeless persons in the region. According to a recent Florida Times-Union story, the data revealed that chronic homelessness city-wide decreased by 60 percent over the past six years. This decrease can be attributed to a number of factors, including an improving economy, the “Housing First” model (finding stable, permanent housing quickly) and strong partnerships among service providers.

In the past year alone, significant decreases were observed in the number of chronically homeless individuals (25% decrease) and in the number of homeless veterans (18%), with an 11% overall decrease in the number of homeless persons in Northeast Florida.

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

p1 coverEach year, Downtown Vision, Inc. publishes its “State of Downtown” report. The publication analyzes the previous year’s trends and successes, providing a snapshot of Downtown Jacksonville’s health and progress.

Today, we are pleased to release the 2014 report, which covers information on:
  • investment + development
  • office + employment
  • residential
  • culture + entertainment
  • restaurants + retail
  • hotels + convention
  • clean + safe
  • getting around

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By Tenley Ross, DVI Intern

With early voting in full swing, we’ve updated the guide of candidates available for your votes for mayoral, city council district and city council at-large elections. All citizens can vote for at-large members regardless of where they live. Courtesy of The Florida Times-Union‘s “Meet the Candidates” Q&As, get a closer look at where candidates stand on revitalizing Downtown below. Early voting runs through May 17 at select locations city-wide, and the general election will be held at all precincts Tuesday, May 19.


Mayoral Election





Bio excerpt: On July 1, 2011, Alvin Brown made history by being sworn in as the first African American mayor of Jacksonville. Since his first day in office, Mayor Brown has kept his word and put Jacksonville first.

Mayor Brown has led with a vision of bringing Jacksonville together — working with Republicans, Democrats, and Independents — to create greater opportunities for the city. He has moved Jacksonville forward, and has helped grow the economy, protect taxpayers, and improve education and public safety. Since first being elected, Mayor Brown has put politics aside and has focused on fostering business and employment opportunities for Jacksonville — for which the city has received national recognition.

What is your top priority for reviving downtown?

Before I was elected, I said a vibrant and modernized downtown would be a priority in my Administration. I’m proud to have kept my word and led the way on revitalizing Downtown Jacksonville during my four years in office. My Administration has worked with Republicans, Democrats, and Independents on making today’s downtown a reality. Downtown is now going through an economic and cultural renaissance. I helped create the Downtown Investment Authority (DIA), which has played a vital and positive role in helping to jump-start downtown development. Thanks to my Administration’s leadership and the DIA’s work, Downtown Jacksonville now has clear momentum. In the last four years, we have partnered with the private sector to achieve significant progress for downtown. For example: The Brooklyn area of downtown has been revitalized since 2011, with a Fresh Market, multiple restaurants, and more than 600 new housing units, which will all have a total economic impact of hundreds of millions of dollars for Jacksonville. EverBank has already relocated downtown and Citizens Property Insurance Company will soon be relocating downtown as well — together bringing thousands of new employees to Downtown Jacksonville. We worked with City Council to save the historic Bostwick Building and enable new ownership that will revitalize this critical structure at one of the entrances to downtown, while preserving its historic character. By joining together with a private partner, we have begun to renew the iconic public space at Hemming Plaza to make it safer, cleaner, and more attractive as a venue for community activities.

One Spark has brought national attention to downtown, as has the city’s partnership with the Jaguars in upgrading our football stadium to help attract events from around the globe. As a result of bringing a larger number and more diverse events to downtown venues, over 200,000 more visitors came to downtown in 2013-2014 than in the previous year. The Miami Herald recently said, “Downtown Jax has changed dramatically over the past three years” and “the city core has gone from drab to dynamite.” The Florida Times-Union said it best when they said, “Downtown is roaring to life.” Revitalizing the Jacksonville Landing, developing the Shipyards, and hopefully bringing life back to the Laura Street Trio are priorities for my Administration in taking Downtown Jacksonville to the next level.

I was proud to recently sign the DIA’s redevelopment plan into law, and I look forward to working with DIA leaders, the business community, downtown merchants and residents, the arts and cultural community, and others to help downtown realize its full potential. Over the next four years, I will build on all the success we’ve had over the last four years and continue to invest in Downtown Jacksonville so that it becomes a destination, not a pass-through to other neighborhoods. We can continue to make our city a world-class city, where people want to live, work, and play.

by: Admin in Thought Leadership 1 Comment  

Photo by Rob FutrellAs I wrapped up my position as executive director of Downtown Vision, staff asked me to pull together some thoughts and observations about my time Downtown.

We forget how much things have changed Downtown.

  • In 2001, we had no market-rate residential units. Today, we have close to 1,700 market-rate residential units in 12 residential projects, with an additional 600 units coming on line this year.
  • In 2001, the Northbank Riverwalk was only in front of The Landing and Times-Union Center. Today, it is approximately four times as long and easily connects to Riverside. The St. Johns River is, without question, one of the most magnificent rivers in the country.
  • When I came to Jacksonville in 2001, there were only three places in the Northbank core to stop for a drink after work – The Landing, the Omni and the VooDoo Lounge. Today, there are close to 20 options to grab a drink.
  • It was only about eight years ago that we sat at public meetings to discuss building a parking garage at the foot of Hogan Street on the riverfront. Now, we are talking about a new design plan for The Landing and better incorporating Hogan Street into this plan. Talk about progress: we are now thinking smarter and bigger, focusing our development energy – and dollars – on projects that will truly make Downtown a destination.

Any given week, shares information on around 100 happenings Downtown. From big sell-out concerts at the Arena to weekly markets offering fresh veggies, there’s always something to check out. Thanks to event organizers and venues, we compiled a list of weekly and monthly reoccurring Downtown events for our latest flier, pictured below.

Every Tuesday, for example, you can count on Gary Sass and his Jacksonville Walking Tours team to deliver a fascinating “Top to Bottom Walking Tour” through the city streets. Thursdays, you can burn calories in Hemming Park with Yoga 4 Change and JaxFit. Each Friday, you can learn to “boot scootin’ boogie” during line-dance lessons at Mavericks. And nearly daily, you can find yourself elbow-deep in treat-making at Sweet Pete’s.

Do yourself a favor: experience what Downtown has to offer. We promise you’ll never need to say “there’s nothing to do Downtown” again.


Any Given Day Downtown


(Then, print and/or share it with your friends, family and coworkers! Want a bunch? Swing by DVI anytime between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays for a stack. Find us at 214 N. Hogan St., Suite 120.)


Note: the PDF above went to press earlier this month. For an up-to-date list, check out our ongoing events webpage, updated as information becomes available. Want your reoccurring event listed? Email