by: Admin in #DTJax Awards No Comments  

At the 2018 #DTJax Gala: Vintage Circus, we presented the third annual #DTJax Awards to celebrate the people and projects that make Downtown Jacksonville a better place to live, work, visit and invest. The Downtowner of the Year Award honors an individual who has demonstrated inspirational leadership and has made strides to create and support a vibrant Downtown.

Mark Nusbaum, Frank Denton and DVI Board Chair Terry Durand-Stuebben

Mark Nusbaum, Frank Denton and DVI Board Chair Terry Durand-Stuebben

This year, we recognized two people as Downtowners of the Year for their joint work and dedication to chronicle Downtown Jacksonville’s growth in a brand new publication: J Magazine. Mark Nusbaum has served as the president of The Florida Times-Union since 2012. Prior to that he was vice president of operations for Morris Publishing Group, which owns the Times-Union. Mark is also the publisher of both the Times-Union and J Magazine. Frank Denton is currently the editor-at-large for both the Times-Union and J Magazine. Frank is also the vice president for journalism for Morris Publishing Group.

Together, Mark and Frank brainstormed a way to record proposed ideas, current developments and the overall rebirth of Downtown: J Magazine. This quarterly publication—what they’ve called unabashed advocacy journalism—is 100% focused on Downtown. With the first issue being published this past June, J Magazine has already made waves in the Downtown community, reporting on themes of ownership, history and attitudes towards Downtown.

Congratulations, Mark and Frank, on your success of continually looking forward to Downtown development, keeping note of the journey to a bolder Downtown Jacksonville.

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 Spotlight, Thought Leadership No Comments  

This week, the Florida Times-Union released “Meet the candidate” Q&As for Jacksonville’s mayoral contenders: Omega Allen, Bill Bishop, Mayor Alvin Brown and Lenny Curry. Among the questions including those on the Human Rights Ordinance, mental illness, race relations, Police and Fire pension, each was asked, “What is your top priority for reviving Downtown?” Here is what they had to say:

Omega Allen



Bio excerpt: A native of Jacksonville and a graduate of William M. Raines, Omega Allen was influenced and molded by the academic and social elite of the African American Community who expected her to excel, achieve, and lead.

Omega has an MBA from Jacksonville University where she graduated Cum Laude. Her academic achievement is a testament to her intellect. She is a Doctoral Candidate and upon completion of her dissertation, she will be awarded a Ph.D. in Public Administration specializing in municipal government. Omega returned to college to obtain the credentials and education needed to successfully lead Jacksonville.

What is your top priority for reviving downtown?

My top priority for reviving downtown is the proper care and relocation of our homeless population. Then the focus immediately switches to attracting new retail, residential, and entertainment venues by offering responsible incentives to utilize the abandoned City-owned properties.

Read the full Q&A here.
View the Supervisor of Elections candidate report here.

P.O. Box 28788
Jacksonville, FL 32226

Facebook: Omega Allen for Mayor

by: Katherine Hardwick in Advocacy, Thought Leadership No Comments  

Downtown Vision, Inc.‘s executive director Terry Lorince submitted the following editorial to the Florida Times-Union in partnership with Shannon Nazworth, executive director, Ability Housing of Northeast Florida, Cindy Funkhouser, CEO, Sulzbacher Center, and  Dawn Gilman, executive director, Emergency Services & Homeless Coalition. This editorial appeared in the Florida Times-Union print edition on Saturday, March 22, 2014 and can also be read on We welcome feedback to

As we talk about ways to revitalize downtown Jacksonville, the topic of homelessness always comes up.


It’s important to note that most homelessness is due to the lack of an affordable place to live.

Statistics show that if you give the homeless affordable places to live, they will not return to homelessness.

The most successful intervention is to provide short-term financial assistance so these individuals can get into a home. And to provide solutions — or “wraparound” services — so they can retain housing.


You might be surprised to know this about homelessness in Jacksonville:

■ According to a recent survey by the Homeless Coalition of Northeast Florida, there are 400 chronically homeless individuals in downtown Jacksonville alone.

■ 25 percent of the local homeless population is not from Jacksonville. They ended up here because they were following a job, hoping to get a job or other circumstances.

■ Veterans account for approximately 25 percent of our homeless population. Many are struggling with PTSD and are shelter averse. That means they won’t live among a large population in a shelter with noise, chaos and crowds. These individuals are best served through individual housing programs.

■ The cost to arrest and jail a homeless person includes $884 for booking and $62 per day to house them.

■ The average cost of a single chronically homeless person is $50,000 per year. That includes jail time, emergency room visits, social services and other costs.

■ It costs between $12,000 and $24,000 to provide a permanent supportive housing solution for that same individual.

So by providing affordable housing, these programs can save the community up to $30,000 per individual housed.

100 Homes Jacksonville, administered by Ability Housing, has housed more than 500 individuals across the region since 2012.


It is a collaboration of multiple agencies, including the Veterans Administration, River Region, the Sulzbacher Center, Clara White Mission, the Jacksonville Housing Authority, Mental Health Resource Center and the Emergency Services & Homeless Coalition.

When launched, 100 Homes Jacksonville’s goal was to house 100 people in one year.

Today, the goal is to continue to house 30 individuals per month.

Homeward Bound is a partnership between the Sulzbacher Center and Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office that seeks homeless people who’ve been on the street for less than six months and have no friends or family in Jacksonville.

The program tracks down relatives and friends in other cities and sends these individuals back home where they can seek permanent shelter.

The Sulzbacher Center and JSO have also partnered to launch the CHOP program to get chronic homeless offenders off the streets and out of jail.

This program is also a collaboration of the Sulzbacher Center, Public Defender’s Office, State Attorney’s Office, judges, the jail and Salvation Army probation program.

Downtown Jacksonville is making great strides in reducing homelessness. There is no single solution. It will continue to require many people collaborating and working together to solve this problem.

The authors are:
■ Terry Lorince, executive director, Downtown Vision Inc.
■ Shannon Nazworth, executive director, Ability Housing of Northeast Florida.
■ Cindy Funkhouser, CEO, Sulzbacher Center.
■ Dawn Gilman, executive director, Emergency Services & Homeless Coalition.

by: Katherine Hardwick in Thought Leadership No Comments  

Downtown Vision, Inc.‘s executive director Terry Lorince submitted the following editorial to the Florida Times-Union to celebrate the young entrepreneurs responsible for Downtown’s home grown nightlife scene. This editorial appeared in the Florida Times-Union print edition earlier this week and can also be read on We welcome feedback to

Burro Bar at Art Walk

When most people think of downtown revitalization projects, they think of developers, local business leaders and city politicians.

But Jacksonville’s explosive growth, primarily in the entertainment venues, can be attributed to several young entrepreneurs who saw great opportunity and were willing to take the risks to turn downtown into a destination.

Almost all of downtown Jacksonville’s bars are locally and independently owned and operated.

That’s truly unique.

Burrito Gallery was among the first entrepreneurial ventures. It opened in 2005.

“Back then, downtown was just screaming for an eclectic, ethnic, trendy spot,” said Paul Shockey, co-owner of Burrito Gallery

“So we took that leap of faith and look where we are today. We’re getting ready to expand our restaurant.”

In 2010, Downtown Vision Inc. approached the young owners of Burro Bags — a bicycle bags, gear and apparel shop in Springfield — about moving downtown.

They relocated and soon entered a joint venture with friends to open Burro Bar.

It helped pave the way for more entrepreneurs to invest in downtown.

“As soon as we moved downtown, we saw the energy among locals just waiting to be tapped,” said Jack Twachtman, owner of the Burro Bar.

Even young entrepreneurs outside of the urban core saw the growing energy across downtown and jumped on the bandwagon.

Underbelly — voted the No. 1 live music venue in 2013 by Void Magazine — opened in 2012.

It relocated to downtown from its former home in 5 Points.

And the owners of The Fox in Avondale opened Chomp Chomp, which quickly became a popular lunchtime and late night downtown eatery.

These happy hour and nightlife destinations consistently receive high marks on Yelp and Urbanspoon.

Dos Gatos, opened by a Jacksonville native in 2009, was recently named one of the “100 Best Bars in the South” by Southern Living magazine.

And the momentum is growing.

Just last month, downtown welcomed two new nightlife venues — the Downtown Cigar Lounge and The Volstead, a speakeasy style cocktail bar whose young owners all previously worked at Burrito Gallery and teamed with Content Design Group, a downtown design firm, to transform a raw space on Adams Street into a seven-day-a-week nightspot.

The independent spirit that brings entrepreneurs downtown also brings them together.

The Elbow nightlife district was formed in 2012, bringing together downtown bars, restaurants and entertainment venues.

“Downtown is close knit,” said Jason Hunnicutt, owner of 1904 Music Hall.

“The Elbow really spotlights this sense of community and gives our district an identity.”

These are just a few of the young entrepreneurs investing in downtown. And their ventures are not limited to nightlife.

From restaurants to retail, creative firms to artists, young entrepreneurship is thriving in downtown Jacksonville.

“When I arrived in Jacksonville, I was amazed by all of the young entrepreneurs who have such a strong commitment to seeing downtown thrive,” said Audra Wallace, CEO of the Downtown Investment Authority.

“I commend them for taking the initiative and the risks to bring their visions of a vibrant downtown to life,” Wallace said.

by: Katherine Hardwick in Thought Leadership No Comments  

The Florida Times-Union opinion piece “Huge changes likely to revive the nation’s core cities” on the trend of “new urbanism” does an excellent job shining a light onto a nationwide trend taking root in Jacksonville.

“For generations, families that were moving up also moved away from downtown.

Now it appears that trend is reversing in a way that spells a renaissance for American central cities.

Author Alan Ehrenhalt calls it ‘The Great Inversion.’ That’s the opening title of his new book, “The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City.”

Ehrenhalt doesn’t see the suburbs disappearing. But he does see strong reasons why young people and many boomers are gravitating to the excitement and vitality of core cities.”

Trends like new urbanism are a key topic among members of the International Downtown Association. Having had the chance this month to spend time with more than 700 Downtown and Central Business District practitioners at the International Downtown Association’s World Congress in New York City, DVI’s Terry Lorince elaborated on some of the trends learned on First Coast Connect.

first_coast_connect_logo_01Listen to the full interview here, beginning at 29:05 minute mark.


Traffic lane reclaimed for pedestrians in Midtown Manhattan.

Here are some key takeaways learned in New York. Young and budding professionals in the Millennial generation overwhelming favor a walkable, active and authentic lifestyle afforded by downtowns. Seventy-seven percent of millennials prefer to live in an urban environment. And studies show that more than 53 percent of 16 to 21-year-olds don’t have driver’s licenses. Unlike previous generations, Millennials value mass transit and bikeable and walkable neighborhoods, like Downtown.

Attracting human capital, such as young professionals, takes a vibrant urban vibe. Activating Downtown is key to attracting more businesses, residents and foot traffic. In the long term, the goal is to reduce vacancies Downtown. In the short term, however, it will take more events and activities to bring people Downtown. Creating things like a strong café culture and plentiful bike paths can be done incrementally.

For example, a key challenge for New York City is combating congestion. However, instead of costly infrastructure improvements, the city is reclaiming traffic lanes to create room for pedestrians to linger, socialize and ride bikes. Learning from the successes – and mistakes – of other cities is key in Downtown revitalization efforts, but the easiest take away is this: just try something. If it doesn’t quite work, learn what you can and try something new. It’s thanks to trials and errors like this that you can now enjoy a cup of coffee right in the streets of New York City, and that’s pretty neat.