by: Katherine Hardwick in Spotlight No Comments  

Based on a demonstration project between DVI and local entrepreneurs in 2011, CoWork Jax opened its doors on January 26, 2012, to create Jacksonville’s first co-working community with a simple mission of offering entrepreneurs and small businesses an environment to collaborate, conspire and grow.


It’s a formula that not only fosters local entrepreneurs and small businesses, but fosters Downtown growth as well. To date, 15 companies with nearly 90 employees have grown out of CoWork Jax. Companies such as: Ignite, Content Design Group, Digital Edge Marketing , Sports Yapper, One Spark and KYN have all outgrown their CoWork spaces and have relocated, leasing office space in Downtown and surrounding neighborhoods.

The three founders of CoWork Jax, Varick Rosete, Dennis Eusebio and Elton Rivas, developed and launched the inaugural five-day One Spark innovation festival at CoWork. This festival, of course, went on to bring more than 500 creators and 130,000 patrons Downtown and had an estimated economic impact in the tens of millions in its first year. In turn, Northeast Florida’s first business accelerator program, KYN, was imagined here. Selecting four companies from the One Spark Festival, KYN will nurture and develop these companies to grow their businesses Downtown through a 16-week boot-camp-style curriculum designed to validate business models, and scale the companies while attracting additional investment to their businesses.

Today, CoWork boasts more than 100 members and 50 “alumni” members. Approximately 20 participants and program managers are regularly working out of the space, and CoWork is the home of Healthbox Florida’s first cohort of seven companies. An average of 850 unique people come through CoWork’s doors each month, including: members, event and meeting attendees, clients, colleagues, family, and friends.

CoWork Jax has proven itself as a laboratory for fresh innovative thinking, and also as a great vehicle to help revitalize Downtown Jacksonville.

by: abruno in Spotlight 1 Comment  

Michele Bozzuto of Mad Men Marketing has one heck of a view. Sitting in her Bay Street office, you can see the Main Street Bridge perfectly. She was even able to watch fire breathers and bar-goers from her window during One Spark. With prime real estate within Downtown’s creative district, selection this office space belonging to the 32202 zip code was no coincidence.

“We specifically moved our business Downtown,” Michele said. “We followed the creative vibe here.”

Emma Bozzuto

As an office, Mad Men is a laid-back environment. They didn’t want cubicles or closed doors – there’s open space, lots of windows, comfy chairs and, of course, there’s Emma, Michele’s chihuahua, who observes day-to-day activities in one of Downtown’s up-and-coming creative firms.

As a vice president and stakeholder, Michele is a passionate Downtown advocate. She sees the value in bringing her business, clients and friends Downtown.

“Being Downtown not only supports our efforts but also our clients’ efforts.” She invites each of her clients Downtown to Art Walk each month, One Spark in the spring, and lunch at one of her favorite urban eateries.

She touts the networking capabilities that have come with relocating from a bland office park in the Baymeadows area to the urban core. It is, she said, one of the best creative communities in Jacksonville. She also commends the nightlife Downtown: “There’s always something going on downstairs at Underbelly. It encourages us to work hard and stay late, so we have an excuse to enjoy the live music and drinks later.”

This Downtown devotee believes in what’s happening in the urban core. She credits Mad Men’s exponential success in the past year to their new location in the creative district. The consumer-driven marketing agency has grown from four employees in January to 15 in June.

Other positives to working Downtown? Michele claims there are too many to count. She says she sees limitless opportunities in such a unique area, and she loves being a part of something that is on its way to something bigger. And, of course, her favorite lunch spot, Adams Street Deli, where she could “live off the chicken fried rice and shrimp sauce” doesn’t hurt either.

Her passion and excitement for Downtown is contagious as she tells me that “Downtown is happening, Downtown is cool.” Yes, Michele Bozzuto has one heck of a view indeed. Especially her point of view on Downtown Jacksonville.



by: Katherine Hardwick in Events (3) Comments  

Love One Spark? Well, they’d love YOUR feedback. Help make next year bigger and better; share your thoughts and ideas in the Attendee Survey.

by: Admin in Thought Leadership No Comments  

A proud South Florida native, I spent my last summer in Palm Beach County dreading the days when I would be forced to become a “northerner” and move to Jacksonville to attend college. I didn’t think Jacksonville could compare to my beloved West Palm Beach. I refused to go Downtown, I turned up my nose at Town Center and don’t even get me started on the beaches – water should be clear and sand should be soft! Slowly but surely I warmed up to Jacksonville and all the amazing things this city has to offer, especially the Downtown area.

Downtown is home to many amazing festivals and artistic showcases such as One Spark and Art Walk.  One Spark, which premiered this past April, was the world’s first crowd funding festival that featured artists, musicians, inventors, entrepreneurs and innovators. The five-day festival ended with the $250,000 prize money being divvied up among the winners in each of the different categories. One Spark brought huge crowds to Downtown’s core and was considered to be a great success by its creators, partners and the city.

Art Walk is a great opportunity for local artists to show off and sell their art and jewelry. It also allows musicians to play in a public setting and build their fan base. This month, Art Walk will have a flare for the dramatic as it features local theater and improv groups from the Jacksonville area.

Downtown also boasts one of the best nightlife scenes in Northeast Florida. Whether you’re into dub-step and house music or country and line-dancing, there is a bar that fits your needs. New Downtown collaborative effort, The Elbow, allows users to find all of the information about Downtown nightlife in one place. The Downtown bars offer a variety of drink specials from cocktails, to signature brews, which offers something for every bar hopper.  Most bars also have live music or local DJs, so with a little liquid courage, you can dance the night away.

There are also many restaurants and shops that are unique to the Downtown area. I fell in love with Chamblin’s Uptown the moment I walked in and could spend hours searching for books and movies.

The great thing about Downtown is there is always room to grow and people who are willing to put in time and effort into making it an even more beautiful place. With the remodeling and renovations that are in the works for the urban core, it promises to continue to be a community that thrives and flourishes. While you may not be able to change my mind about the beaches, I’m definitely sold on Downtown, and this proud Palm Beach girl is very happy to be living in a Downtown Jacksonville world.

-Emily Gregorchik, DVI intern
DVI offers marketing internships each semester. More information on the program can be found here.




With events like One Spark and other developments on the horizon earlier this spring, DVI submitted Jacksonville for the International Downtown Association‘s (IDA) “Downtown of the Month” feature. Jacksonville was awarded the spot for May, which was announced in Wednesday of this week.

The mission of the IDA is to connect diverse practitioners who transform cities into healthy and vibrant urban places. The organization’s vision is to see a world full of vital and livable downtowns.

Enjoy the full article below and come be a part of our beautiful River City.

Downtown Jacksonville

About Downtown Jacksonville

Downtown Vision LogoDowntown Jacksonville is the heart and historic cornerstone of Florida’s First Coast. Centrally located in the Northeast Florida region, which is home to 1.5 million people, Downtown is a 30-minute drive to the beaches and 45 minutes to St. Augustine and Amelia Island. Here, diverse, big city offerings fuse with small town charm and southern hospitality. Set along six stunning miles of the St. Johns River waterfront, Downtown Jacksonville also boasts one of the largest stocks of historic buildings in Florida.

The creative class delights in an urban canvas of art events, galleries and museums. Downtown Vision Inc.’s First Wednesday Art Walk is frequently voted Jacksonville’s ”Best Artsy Event” and attracts an average of 8,000 people monthly to celebrate the urban environment, people watch and savor Jacksonville’s creative talent. Downtown has welcomed seven new public art murals in 2013—with two more in the works—and a recently announced Spark District Grant Program will fund additional placement of art and culture, events, festivals, concerts and tours in the walkable core.

Jacksonville EntertainmentDowntown Jacksonville is a destination for doers. Sports fans cheer year round for Jacksonville Jaguars NFL football; Jacksonville Suns Double-A baseball; Jacksonville Giants minor league basketball – the 2011-2012 National Champions of the American Basketball Association; and Jacksonville Sharks arena football – the only team in the history of all professional sports to have won the championship of their division in every season of their existence. Music lovers thrive on the local live music scene and national performing acts alike. This year has welcomed a new collaboration of nightlife venues in Downtown’s entertainment district called, The Elbow. Together these authentic, locally owned and operated bars and clubs host monthly live music events and offer charter transportation to the nearby beaches area.

As a hub for innovators and entrepreneurs, Downtown Jacksonville boasts CoWork Jax, a co-working location for independent workers to collaborate, conspire and build community. Following suit, design, marketing and tech companies are flocking to the Downtown core for an authentic, urban experience to augment their creativity. Last month, 130,000 people assembled in Downtown Jacksonville for the launch of the world’s first crowdfunding festival, One Spark. Over the five-day event, more than $250,000 in crowdfunding was distributed among 500 art, music, science and technology and cause exhibits. Plus, STACHE Investments, a venture of Jacksonville Jaguars owner, Shad Khan, will invest in five-to-seven companies selected at One Spark and work with them to support, build and grow their ventures in Jacksonville, FL.

Jacksonville WaterfrontWalkScore, an organization which helps people find a walkable place to live and enjoy a walkable lifestyle, gives Downtown Jacksonville a score of 78 – the highest for any Jacksonville neighborhood, and lauds the Northbank core of Downtown as a walker’s paradise with a score 91. This walkability is one key to Downtown Jacksonville’s desirability among residents and workers.

Historic architecture and modern amenities join to create more than 2,300 residences, from luxury riverfront condos to stylish lofts to cozy townhomes. With 93% occupancy in Downtown Jacksonville, its good news several hundred more units are on the way.

As the largest regional office submarket with more than 7 million square feet of commercial space, business is done from the boardroom to the ballpark. Employees enjoy unparalleled lunchtime and happy hour options steps from their offices, plus daytime activities and exercise options along nearly three miles of Riverwalk and bridge trails found only in the urban core.

Downtown Jacksonville offers something for everyone – visitors, workers and residents alike. Downtown’s calendar of events is chocked full of more than 100 events in May alone, including the renowned Jacksonville Jazz Festival and a new partnership with The Elbow this year for Jazz Fest After Dark.

Jacksonville FireworksWithin Downtown Jacksonville, sits the 90-block Downtown Improvement District administered by DVI. A dedicated staff and board of directors act as the management arm for Downtown, employing advocacy efforts, stakeholder and community support, and public realm enhancements to ensure Downtown is a desirable place to live, work, play and visit.

DVI works tirelessly towards a fully revitalized and dynamic Downtown with a number of partner organizations including the newly formed Downtown Investment Authority, the Downtown Marketing Collaborative, JAX Chamber, Visit Jacksonville and the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville. Together these organizations and more are capitalizing on today’s momentum to build a business powerhouse and 24-hour epicenter of first-class culture, innovation and entertainment opportunities.

For more information, visit or contact executive director Terry Lorince at Follow Downtown Jacksonville on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Photos by Rob Futrell.


by: Katherine Hardwick in Spotlight No Comments  

On One Spark in Downtown Jacksonville:

“Crowded cars on the Skyway. Traffic congestion downtown. Long waits at restaurants.

Isn’t it wonderful?

More than once I heard someone talking about the vibe, even the seemingly negative aspects, by saying, ‘Isn’t this great? … This feels like a real downtown.'”

Read the the full article, “Mark Woods: Downtown felt like downtown should feel” at

Can’t get enough of One Spark? Here are a number of wrap-ups and recaps to get your fix, facts and figures:


When Shawn Thurston spray-painted his landscape mural on the storefront of Chamblin’s Uptown last month, the installation was an introduction of the public art to come. Using the inaugural One Spark festival as a catalyst, DVI continued its efforts in collaboration with the Cultural Council to bring art Downtown, acting as a liaison between artists and property owners and securing approval to add four temporary and permanent public art installations to Downtown’s building façades.

Doug Eng’s “Beyond the Facade”

Local photographer and fine artist, Doug Eng, installed large-scale images of nature and architecture called “Beyond the Façade,” over the boarded windows of the Laura St. Trio and Barnett Bank buildings at the intersection of Laura and Adams streets.

A familiar face in the Downtown art scene, Eng has participated in Off the Grid for a number of years, formerly with a studio space in Studio 121 and currently as a member of the artist cooperative, Southlight Gallery. Prior to “Beyond the Façade,” Eng has lead and participated in a number of installations and exhibits Downtown including “Message in a Bottle: Wall of Light” in Main Street Park last spring. The installation sculpture displayed thousands of messages from the community to raise the awareness of our military’s service to our country.

‘Currently the landscape of abandoned buildings, empty storefronts, and “Available” signage is the driver of depressed states of consciousness for the city. By creating interest, curiosity, and observer interaction, we can begin to transform the downtown experience to a positive one,’ said Eng.

“Rise from the Ashes” by Corey Kolb & Eric Hinote

Local activists Doug Coleman and Wayne Wood introduced “The Big One” project, which brought six larger-than-life sculpture and mural installations to Downtown for One Spark. Included in project is the “Rise from the Ashes” wheat paste mural spanning the width of the vacant Lerner Building, which sits across from The Carling residence at 20 W. Adams Street.

The mural was a joint collaboration by local artists and graphic designers Corey Kolb and Eric Hinote.  “We were trying to portray a positive message for the city in that it’s time to support Downtown and see it return to the epicenter it once was. We see that initiatives like Art Walk and One Spark can revitalize Jacksonville’s urban core by giving people a reason to visit and stay Downtown,” said Hinote. “We feel it’s time that Jacksonville embraces this notion and builds off the initiatives it has put in place to make Downtown more vibrant culturally.”

“Yarnbomb Downtown Jax” by Jackie Kuhn

Between the Laura Street Trio and Lerner buildings, sits an empty fenced-in lot, which came to life with whimsical knitted scenes lead by Jackie Kuhn from Neptune Beach, FL. The most temporary of the installations, “Yarnbomb Downtown Jax,” showcased this female dominated art form, which creates a dialogue between fiber artists and the public through non-permanent street art, called “yarn bombing.” In addition to the mural, yarn creations covered tree trunks, statues, poles and bike racks during the festival.

“Up-cycle” by SeeSAW

Two blocks down Adams Street, Matthew Hebermehl of Savannah, GA lead a project by SeeSAW, See Savannah Art Walls, to paint “Up-cycle.” This installation on the exterior of Burro Bar at 100 E. Adams Street, brings color to a formerly whitewashed wall highly visible from the Main Street bridge entrance into the Northbank core of Downtown. Inspired by the themes of renewal and cultural fire, the mural showcases the positive impact of community-centric public art.

If Thurston’s first mural was the introduction, the murals installed for One Spark are only the first chapter. Announced recently, the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville has launched a Spark Initiative for the walking core of Downtown. Through this grant program, the Cultural Council will fund additional placement of art and culture, such as bike racks or benches; or events, performances, festivals, concerts and tours.

Have you had a chance to see the new art Downtown? What do you think? What would you like to see next?