by: admin in Thought Leadership No Comments  

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: Katherine Hardwick in Advocacy, Placemaking, Thought Leadership No Comments  

Earlier this month, we posted about Mayoral Candidates on Reviving Downtown thanks to the Florida Times-Union’s “Meet the candidate” Q&As. In similar fashion, we’re bringing you how Jacksonville’s City Council contenders weighed in on Downtown revitalization. For starters, here’s how the districts are drawn. See a full-size map of the current council districts here.

City Council District Map 2015

by: Katherine Hardwick in Advocacy No Comments  
JAX2025 Community Survey Results

JAX2025 Community Survey Results

“Creating a city of opportunity means investing in our Downtown. We want Downtown Jacksonville to become a vibrant destination for people to work, live and visit. A great city depends on a great Downtown.”

– Mayor Alvin Brown

DVI applauds Mayor Brown’s commitment to a revitalized Downtown and offers full support for the proposed Downtown investments in Mayor Brown’s 2014-2015 Fiscal Year Budget. The budget is currently in review with City Council and will be approved by the end of September.



Revitalizing Downtown Jacksonville

The Jacksonville Landing: As part of revitalization plans, the City of Jacksonville will invest $11.8 million in public infrastructure through the CIP to support the first phase of improvements, including a wider plaza along the Northbank Riverwalk, public space and broader access at Hogan Street. Demolition of existing structures is included. The vision for reinvigorating the Jacksonville Landing includes new retail, housing and event space.

The Shipyards: Mayor Brown has made redeveloping the Shipyards a major priority to continue investment in Downtown. To activate environmental remediation efforts, the CIP makes an initial investment of $1.25 million.

Former Duval County Courthouse: To continue efforts to upgrade Downtown, the former county courthouse will be demolished to provide new opportunities for public or private development. The CIP invests $4.2 million.

Metropolitan Park: The capital improvement plan invests $250,000 to begin the design of a new Metropolitan Park that maximizes its role as an entertainment venue.

Downtown Streets: To continue making Downtown the best experience possible, the City will invest $1 million through the CIP to design the transition from unwieldy one-way streets to more user-friendly two-way streets.

Downtown Lighting and Signage: Both Mayor Brown and the DIA have made enhancing the experience of visiting Downtown a priority. Lighting and signage will be improved through an investment of $1.5 million in the CIP.

Northbank Riverwalk: Mayor Brown supports upgrades of $3 million through the CIP to continue maximizing the potential of the pedestrian park along our river.

Downtown Investment Authority: Mayor Brown proposes providing $1.21 million in annual funding for the DIA through the general fund to finance non-capital projects that will spur interest and investment in Downtown.

FC Armada: As previously announced, the City will partner with new North American Soccer League (NASL) team FC Armada to hold its games in the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville for the next three years. Through the general fund, the City will cover up to $700,000 in operational expenses and make a one-time capital investment of $300,000.

Main Library: The general fund budget would restore hours at the Main Library in Downtown Jacksonville, while the CIP would invest in public spaces at the Main Library.

Downtown Vision: So that the City can be consistent with other Downtown property owners, Mayor Brown proposed a $152,340 increase in the City’s annual contribution to Downtown Vision.

One Spark: To increase Jacksonville’s role and success in this signature, destination creator festival, Mayor Brown supports doubling the City’s direct investment to $100,000, with a similar amount available through in-kind contributions of City services.

Budget items also with City Council for approval are: $750,000 for the Downtown Investment Authority’s Retail Enhancement Grant Program and $1 million seed funding for the day-to-day management of Hemming Plaza (over 18 months).

Please contact City Council to voice your support for Downtown today.


by: Katherine Hardwick in Downtown Shout-outs, Spotlight No Comments  

Oliver Barakat Profile JBJ 2013 ListRecently released, the Jacksonville Business Journal’s annual list of top movers and shakers spotlights local business, civic and government decision makers of 2013. It’s no surprise that one major unifying thread joined many of named–20 of the 30–together: Downtown Jacksonville.

Some based in Downtown, some cultivating Downtown and some championing Downtown, DVI would like to thank the following Downtown-minded movers and shakers for their commitment to enriching the fabric of Downtown Jacksonville. Leading the list is DVI’s very own Board of Directors secretary, Oliver Barakat.

1. Oliver Barakat is senior vice president at CBRE Group, Inc. and chairman of the Downtown Investment Authority.

2. Lori Boyer, City Councilmember, District 5, is an outspoken advocate for Downtown in policy-making.

3. Alex Coley, principal at Hallmark Partners Inc., is a driving force for 220 Riverside, a new mixed-use development in Downtown set to launch this summer.

4. Daniel Davis, president and CEO of JaxChamber continues to make Downtown a priority for the Chamber.

5. Renee Finley was head of public-private partnerships for the City of Jacksonville and is a vice president with Florida Blue.

6. Bill Foley III is Chairman of Fidelity National Financial, one of Downtown’s Fortune 500 companies.

7. Mark Frisch is CEO of Sunshine Sports Soccer Group, a new entertainment advocate group located in Downtown – and we’d love to see a soccer stadium Downtown!

8. Pat Geraghty is CEO of Florida Blue, a longstanding tenant in Downtown’s Brooklyn neighborhood.

9. William Gulliford, City Council president, is a major supporter of Downtown revitalization, including efforts to secure private management for Hemming Plaza.

10. John Keane is the executive director of the Police and Fire Pension Fund, which owners properties in Downtown.  

11. Jacques Klempf, CEO of Dixie Egg Co. and Ovinte Wine Lounge, is a key party interested in the rehabilitation the Bostwick Building.

12. Sherry Magill, president at Jessie Ball duPont Fund, is leading the charge to renovate the Haydon Burns Library for a major nonprofit center.

13. Hope McMath, executive director of the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, is a major supporter of connectivity between Downtown and Riverside/Avondale.

14. Matt Rapp, executive director of THE PLAYERS Championship, was instrumental in expanding TPC into Downtown in 2013.

15. Elton Rivas, co-creator of One Spark and KYN, helped bring more than 100,000 people Downtown for the inaugural crowdfunding festival with a spinoff business incubator program.

16. Peter Rummell, immediate past chair of Jacksonville Civic Council, is a key advocate for Downtown revitalization and a major backer of One Spark.

17. Toney Sleiman is CEO of Sleiman Enterprises, which owns The Jacksonville Landing, and is working toward public-private investment to re-imagine this major landmark.

18. Hap Stein, is chairman and CEO of Regency Centers, a major developer, owner and operator of commercial property, is developing develop a Fresh Market-anchored shopping center in Downtown’s Brooklyn neighborhood.

19. Alan Verlander, COO of Gator Bowl Sports and Entertainment, is working attract major sporting events Downtown and community-wide.

20. Aundra Wallace, CEO of the Downtown Investment Authority, is leading the update of Downtown’s Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) strategy to drive short and longterm economic development and revitalization.

View the full JBJ list here.