By Lindsay Forrest, DVI Intern

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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.

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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 Itineraries No Comments  

By Matthew Winship, DVI Intern

Part four of our Downtown Itinerary series provides some fun ways to get the whole family acquainted with all Downtown’s amenities. 

Downtown Jacksonville is a happening place for kids! Check out this chronological itinerary, packed with kid-friendly activities available every day Downtown.

MORNING/EARLY AFTERNOON

MOSHMouth

Credit: TheMosh.org

Museum of Science and History (MOSH) visit (1025 Museum Circle)

Parking: Museum visitors can park for free in the parking lot across from the museum entrance at the opposite end from River City Brewing Company. Admission is only $6 for children and free for toddlers age two or younger with a $10 cost for accompanying adults. An annual family membership starts at only $80.

About the museum: The popular Museum of Science and History (MOSH) on the Southbank opens 10 a.m. Monday through Saturday and Sundays at noon. The museum is packed with interactive exhibits just for kids, from the anatomy of a life-size blue whale replica in “Atlantic Tails” to experiencing a talkies movie theater in the “Currents of Time”. Included with admission are amazing MOSH science shows, where fun experiments are demonstrated with audience help! For “Creature Features” kids can interact up close with snakes, birds, turtles and more in the museum’s Naturalist Center.

The Brian Gooding Planetarium screens kid’s favorites daily. Each planetarium show is an additional $5 per person and lasts about 30 minutes. The first Friday of every month also brings Cosmic Concerts. At just $5 a person per show (and just $1 for laser glasses), you can enjoy a collection of laser lights and images. What better way to spend a Friday with your kids, especially with the $5 Friday admission and extended hours (10a.m. – 10:30p.m.)

When you’ve wrapped up your visit at the museum, head out back to the beautiful Friendship Fountain, which leads to the start of the new Southbank Riverwalk. If you stick around Downtown until nighttime, the fountain will glow in multiple colors for its music and lights program everyday from dusk to 11 p.m.

 

Ride a River Taxi to the Northbank

RiverTaxi

Credit: JaxRiverTaxi.com

Just past beautiful Friendship Fountain behind MOSH is the deck for the Jacksonville River Taxi, where you and the kids will get a kick out of riding across the St. Johns River to the Northbank. One-way fares will cost adults a mere $5 and the kids just $4. Rides begin daily at 11 a.m Tuesday through Sunday; closed on Mondays.

If you and the kids are tuckered out from the museum visit, stay on the river taxi and take it for the entire loop around the riverfront area for a fun water ride around Downtown, getting back off where you parked at MOSH. If you’re up for more Downtown fun, disembark at The Jacksonville Landing.

Hopping off the river taxi at The Jacksonville Landing will put you and the kids in the Northbank core of Downtown, ready to explore the stroller and pedestrian-friendly core for lunch.

Kid-friendly lunch Downtown

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Click to enlarge

Visit to The Jacksonville Landing (2 Independent Dr.)

Lunch at the Jacksonville Landing is easy. Choose from American GrillFionn MacCool’sChicago PizzaCinco de Mayo and even Hooters – all with kids menus and both indoor and outdoor seating.  Be sure to visit their website for a full listing of stores, dining, events and concerts.

Besides The Jacksonville Landing, Downtown is teeming with great places to grab a bite to eat. For the kids, don’t miss Burrito Gallery (21 E. Adams St.), Chamblin’s Uptown Café (215 N. Laura St.) or Candy Apple Café (400 N. Hogan St.)

Of course, after lunch comes dessert!

Downtown houses a number of places to grab something sweet. Start with Peterbrooke Chocolatier (100 W. Bay St.) , then work your way up to Mocha Misk’i (209 N. Laura St.). Then tour Sweet Pete’s (400 N. Hogan St.) and see where all the magic – erm..chocolate is made.

 

Things to do Downtown

Get educated at The Main Jacksonville Public Library (303 N. Laura St.)

Kids can get in touch with their inner scholar at the Main library, which is located right around the corner from Sweet Pete’s near Hemming Park. The library opens Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 10 a.m., Tuesday and Wednesday at 11 a.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. It offers a children’s department packed with books and other activities as well as regularly programmed events. Their kids section is overflowing with awesomeness, right down to the aesthetics. There’s a lounge area that’s created to look like a pond, complete with an alligator couch. The fourth floor map room is also an amazing feature of the library, especially for those future world travelers.

View contemporary art at MOCA Jacksonville (333 N. Laura St.)

Located right next to the Jacksonville Public Library the MOCA Jacksonville is great fun for kids. In addition to multiple floors of contemporary art the fifth floor is dedicated to the Art Explorium and contains 16 different stations for kids to learn about contemporary art. The museum also houses NOLA MOCA. This contemporary restaurant serves seasonal entrees as well as hand crafted grilled cheese, flatbread and pasta. MOCA Jacksonville opens at 11 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon on Sunday with an admission charge of $8 for adults, $5 for students and free for children age 2 and younger. NOLA MOCA is open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays, and offers limited dining hours.

Get some fresh air in Hemming Park (303 N. Laura St.)

Hemming Park

Credit: Jacksonville.com

The new and improved Hemming Park is a great place to have fun with the family while taking in the city.

Food trucks are available and the park features live music every weekday from 11a.m. to 2p.m.  The Imagination Playground Kids Station is open daily from 10a.m. to 6p.m. and offers a space for kids to explore and play.  Every Monday there is a chess meetup from 10:30a.m. to 12:30p.m. for newcomers and experts alike.

There are also other weekly and monthly activities. The first Wednesday of every month artists fill up the park for Art Walk from 5p.m. to 9p.m. Every third Thursday is Jaxson’s Night Market; featuring local farmers, local art and crafts, local beer and food trucks. Make sure to check out the events calendar to stay up to date on everything Hemming Park has to offer.

During the week take the free Skyway back to San Marco Station or hop back on the river taxi to return to the Southbank any day of the week.

REMEMBER:

  • Parking meters are free every weekday after 6 p.m. and all day Saturday and Sunday. Or if you prefer, check out the parking garage and lot options here.
  • The Skyway, free, operates Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and during special weekend events. For more information, click here.
  • The Jacksonville River Taxi hours are Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m and Friday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m; closed on Mondays. For a one-way ticket, fares are $5/adult and $4/children ages 3-12. Children younger than age 3 ride free. For more information and special events fare, click here.
  • If you need assistance Downtown, our Downtown Ambassadors are here to help. Look for them in their orange polo shirts and pith helmets or call 904-465-7980.

For more information on Downtown destinations, check out our online directory. Many Downtown destinations also hold various special events throughout the year. Be sure to check our events calendar often, or sign up for our weekly events e-newsletter.

by: admin in Events, Uncategorized No Comments  
Oct
22nd
 

By Amy E. Pittman, DVI Intern

Annie 10.21.14Yesterday evening in Downtown Jacksonville following the opening night of ANNIE: The Musical, smiling kids from 2 to 92 flooded the sidewalks in front of the Times-Union Center holding plush red-headed dolls and singing their favorite tunes like “Tomorrow” and “Easy Street.” The FSCJ Artist Series hosted an hour of face painting, games, crafts, and other kids activities before the show, and then the extraordinarily talented and lovable cast, directed by original lyricist and director Martin Charnin, delivered an exciting performance to hundreds of Jacksonville families.

Oct
6th
 

By Amy E. Pittman, DVI Intern

#runDTJax

It’s 7 a.m., and I’m at the top of the Main Street Bridge. My breathing is heavy as I take out my ear buds and lean against the blue railing. My legs are tired from the distance they’ve already carried me, but I know I won’t regret taking a moment to watch the sunlight spilling over into our city to wake it up. Besides the obvious health benefits, the best part of running is exploring, in my opinion. Downtown Jacksonville is a great place to explore through exercise because the terrain is diverse, the sidewalks are safe, and the views from the bridges are perfect.

by: admin in Business Spotlights No Comments  

By Amy E. Pittman, DVI Intern

 

Guests dining at Indochine will enjoy the comfy atmosphere and the delicious Asian fare.

Guests dining at Indochine will enjoy the comfy atmosphere and the delicious Asian fare. Photos by Tammy Czigan of GPC Studios.

Hidden above an iron staircase at 21 E. Adams St. sits the cozy, casual, candlelit Thai restaurant, Indochine. Tucked under the bright red Chinese lanterns just blocks away at 117 W. Adams St. is Indochine’s friendly Vietnamese sister, Pho. A Noodle Bar. Along with 16 other restaurants, Indochine and Pho are participating in Downtown Jacksonville’s two-week dining promotion, Eat Up Downtown, which ends this weekend. Hurry and make plans to visit Downtown this Sunday so you don’t miss out on these fun deals!

Eat Up Downtown restaurants developed prix-fixe $15, $25 and $35 menus which include three courses. At Indochine, guests are presented with a $25 menu and have the option of one alcoholic beverage, house salad or appetizer soup for their first course; one starter for their second course; and one entrée for their third course. At Pho, $15 gets you one starter, one entrée, and one wine, beer or dessert.

Friendly service and fantastic starters like the crispy rolls keep customers coming back.

Friendly service and fantastic starters like the crispy rolls keep customers coming back.

For those hesitant to try Thai or Vietnamese dishes, you are not alone! For starters, the modern and stylish interior of Pho is chic, urban and inviting. When I first visited, I was curious about the steamy soup I often saw on Instagram and Twitter. After one sip of the delicious make-your-own pho, I knew I would be back. The banh mi sandwich at Pho, which is a type of Asian Po’boy, is a fan favorite, and the cool coconut sorbet rounds out any meal perfectly. An ideal setting for any plans you might have this weekend, Indochine’s atmosphere is clean and elegant, and the service is welcoming and quick. The sweet peanut sauce on the chicken satay skewers is delicious, and the spicy lemongrass tom kha gai soup was a tasty introduction to the classic shrimp pad thai stir fry.

Indochine received the “Best Thai in Jacksonville” award by the readers of Folio Weekly for the past three years, which makes perfect sense to anyone who dines there. David Williams of First Coast News reported that Indochine and Pho owner Ladda Salter’s sales increased $10,000-$15,000 during Eat Up Downtown, but Williams says “it’s about more than money.” In the interview, Salter said she is “happy that there’s energy Downtown.” Don’t miss out on this Eat Up Downtown energy — the promotion ends this Sunday!

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While sitting outside my favorite café where the owner knows exactly what I order every time I walk in the door, it made me wonder: What makes outdoor seating Downtown so popular, and why do people choose it over its climate-controlled counterpart? Could it be the feeling of freedom in escaping the office, the ability to bring our pet with us to catch a breath of fresh air, or to simply enjoy the hustle and bustle of Downtown? Whatever your reasons, outdoor seating or café seating has become a permanent part of urban culture.

Within the last few years, the City of Jacksonville has allowed restaurants to setup outside seating for those who have applied for the permit. Since early 2013, Downtown Jacksonville alone has seen an increase from 17 to 22 businesses with outdoor seating, according to DVI’s recent survey, which includes restaurants, designated smoking areas and seating outside offices.

“It’s great the city allows outdoor seating, and we’re lucky we could expand to the sidewalk,” said Ian Chase, Chomp Chomp co-owner. By allowing cafés and restaurants the opportunity to increase seating outdoors, it provides a quick and inexpensive way for businesses to expand, and it improves the pedestrian experience. For Chomp Chomp, this became a necessity as demand has grown significantly in the last year.

The current cost of a Downtown Jacksonville sidewalk café permit is only $250. Orlando’s price is double at $500, whereas Tampa ($300) and Charleston ($200) are similar to Jacksonville’s permitting cost. DVI encourages restaurants and cafes to take advantage of this opportunity to set up sidewalk seating. For information on how to obtain a permit for your business, visit coj.net.

by: tdurandstuebben in Resident Spotlights No Comments  

There is a significant amount of dialogue and debate regarding the need to improve the element of transportation within and to our urban core. Between the JTA Bus Rapid Transit plan and DIA redevelopment meetings, there are many individuals working toward an improved, innovative transportation solution. But I would like to stretch your the perception of our urban connectivity.

water taxiThere are many options to get around Downtown Jacksonville. I’m going to dispel some of the assumptions about our lack of connectivity within Downtown with my experiences during Florida-Georgia weekend. The day began walking across the street (allow me to reiterate, I walked across the street) to ride the Jacksonville Water Taxi over to Metropolitan Park Marina after my husband’s weekly Saturday golf.

After enjoying a few tailgates, we decided to seek out a late lunch and jumped onto a bike taxi/rickshaw to Burrito Gallery. With our grande burrito take-out, we walked home over the Main Street Bridge. We then watched most of the game from home before we walked (again) across the street to have dinner at Chart House.

The Florida Theatre

The Florida Theatre

At the same time, game revelers were moving about Downtown, we finished dinner and headed to the Florida Theatre for Hugh Laurie and The Copper Bottom Band concert via a traditional automobile taxi. The jazz infused Cajun and blues music was awesome for those who did not know about the performance.

To finish the full, diverse Downtown day, we walked home once again over the Main Street Bridge. Living Downtown, we experienced all of this so easily in one day: three types of taxis, Florida-Georgia football, lunch, dinner, concert and two walks over the bridge.

Jacksonville is working on urban connectivity, and it will get even better than it already is – come try it out!

~ Terry Durand-Stuebben, Downtown resident and advocate

Read other posts by Terry in our “Downtown Residents” blog section.