by: Admin in Events No Comments  

In 32 days, “the world’s largest crowdfunding festival” will once again flood the streets, parks and buildings of Downtown Jacksonville. During One Spark‘s first two festivals, we witnessed murals splash drab Downtown facades, historic vacant buildings burst with life, new businesses find their wings and creative energy pulse through the heart of our city.

One Spark in Hemming Plaza

2014 photo by Outside the Den.

Ready for round three? With one month to go (the festival runs April 7 – 12 this year), we chatted with One Spark CEO and co-founder Elton Rivas about what to expect during One Spark 2015.

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!


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

by: Admin in Spotlight No Comments  

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

With over a decade of experience, Lisa Gufford knows how to give her clients exactly that they want. Her company, Executive Suite Professionals, offers high-end, fully furnished office suites for a wide variety of clientele. From single offices to quintuplet suites, these office spaces give clients a luxurious space to meet and conduct business as well as stunning views of the St. Johns River and Downtown. The dust has barely settled from the renovations to the 14th floor of EverBank Center, but Gufford is ready and eager to move clients into these spaces.

Executive Suite Professionals presents patrons with many amenities and services. The suites are fully furnished allowing staff to “plug-in and play.” Amenities  include telephone equipment, private phone lines, high speed internet and wi-fi, 10 hours of meeting room time per month, beverage services, parking, a full-time receptionist, on-site management and security, plus opportunities to network and much more. Guests are not locked in to long-term contracts, which gives them the freedom and flexibility to choose the space that is right for their business.

“I’ve had the word ‘no’ taken out of my vocabulary.  We will find a way to fit your needs, we find solutions,” says Gufford on the quality of service and what clients can expect from ESP.

Gufford is very excited to bring ESP to the Downtown area:
“Being in the industry and listening to clients’ needs, it’s been mentioned many times, ‘Do you have anything Downtown?’ I really believe in our city. So my hope, my dream, my desire is to bring one hundred small businesses to Jacksonville on one floor.”

Gufford hopes that bringing her business Downtown will help bolster the economy of the urban core.

“Not only will my clients be here with me, but their clients will come to see them. They’ll need parking, they’ll need dining, hotels, shopping, so it’s my hope that bringing Executive Suite Professionals to Jacksonville will help, in some small way, stimulate the economy to Downtown.”

Gufford, along with her two business partners are committed to higher standards of service for their clients, as well as helping to revitalize the Downtown area. “I’m very, very lucky to have two great business partners and two great friends who see my vision,” says Gufford.

Downtown is sure to see great changes with a company like this calling our city home and we are excited to welcome them to our metropolitan community.


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: Admin in Thought Leadership No Comments  

Photo by City of Jacksonville

According to the National Alliance To End Homelessness, the Jacksonville area is home to nearly 2,800 homeless persons, 13% of which experience chronic homelessness, defined as long-term or repeated homelessness often coupled with a disability. The streets of Downtown Jacksonville are estimated to be home to more than 400 homeless persons.

Yesterday marked the opening ceremony for the Jacksonville Day Resource Center, which has been nearly 10 years in the making. Mayor Alvin Brown was joined by members of the Day Resource Center partners at a ribbon cutting ceremony at the City Rescue Mission on State Street, which is hosting this new center.

The Day Resource Center will begin as a one-year pilot project that will serve as a safe, hospitable place that will enable social service providers to connect with members of the homeless population who have been reluctant to seek services provided in shelters.  In addition to providing a single point of contact for services, the center will also provide showers, laundry facilities, computer and phone access, as well as lunch service. The Resource Center will be open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays beginning later this month.

Photo by DVI

The Day Resource Center is an example of collaboration at its best. Funding for this project was provided by the City of Jacksonville and Wells Fargo. In addition, ACON Construction and VRL Architects provided substantial in-kind donations of labor and materials that enabled this project to come to fruition. Other partners included the Emergency Services and Homeless Coalition, Sulzbacher Center, Salvation Army, Clara White Mission, River Region Human Services, Mental Health Resource Center, Trinity Rescue Mission, the Veterans Administration and ICARE.

Downtown Vision, Inc. applauds the efforts of this coalition and looks forward to supporting the Day Resource Center in its mission.

by: abruno in Spotlight No Comments  

On the corner of Bay and Ocean streets, next door to the historic Bostwick Building, there’s an office space that brings something extra special to Downtown Jacksonville. With high ceilings, exposed brick walls and three conceptual masterminds, animation studio Dripsblack has entered the Downtown creative scene with a bang.

Shane Douberly and Bill Waller are a dynamic duo that have been creating together for years. New addition Laura Adams is helping the studio spread its wings in the Downtown community. The trio spoke not only of Downtown as a location, but also as a pool of innovative talent and potential. We remarked on the beauty and space of their new location (a far cry from their previous bantam “bedroom” office in Riverside) and the collaborative power of Downtown.

“There’s a lot of neat creative energy here, I’m really impressed,” said Bill.

The passion that these three share for their craft is contagious. They create more than cartoons and commercials – they make moving art, short films that communicate each client’s message beautifully.

They found this stunning space by chance; they had their eyes on a couple of different properties Downtown and in Riverside at the time. Bill and Shane were taking a stroll around the urban core, describing their ideal office, when they walked past this Bay Street location.

Real estate karma was in their favor that day. It fit their laundry list: a great location, much larger than their previous cramped conditions, and also happened to have a For Lease sign on the window. The rest, as they say, is history. They were in the space and making their mark Downtown in time for their Citrus Cel Animation Film Festival April 4-6.

These days, Shane, Bill and Laura are hopeful and excited about the future of an even more visionary Downtown. They laud Downtown nightlife and fellow creative agencies around them. The phrase “more of that” came up a lot in our conversation, and I was reminded of the City of Jacksonville’s More of This, Less of That campaign. If the Dripsblack team were to take pictures of what they want more of Downtown, you would see film and television production studios, more collaboration among creators in the urban core, and more high-caliber artwork being showcased.

The Dripsblack trio seems to be in agreement that Downtown is on the verge of something huge.

“We’re a part of something that’s about to explode,” said Shane. “We need dedicated, passionate people to make it happen.”

Check out Dripsblack’s impressive portfolio on their website, and be prepared to spend more time than you anticipated perusing their work, now homegrown right here in our creative Downtown.