by: Admin in Business Spotlights 1 Comment  

Daniel James Gamsky consulting a client.

You could say hair stylist Daniel James Gamsky ran into the idea for his business.

On a jog through Downtown, Gamsky’s running partner suggested he look at available space in a building she and her husband owned. They detoured their workout to the historic Drew Building on Bay Street to take a look.

“My friend said, ‘Why don’t you clean it up, set up a chair and see what happens?'” said Gamsky.

The year was 1995, and within the next few weeks, he did just that – opened the doors of Daniel James Salon on the building’s third level with one chair and one assistant.

It was just the two of them for six years. “Then, a friend wanted to come and work,” Gamsky said, “and the next thing I knew, I had employees.”

Twenty years, a staff of 12 and a second location in Avondale later, Gamsky is thankful for the success Downtown has provided his team for the last two decades.

by Zahni Thuzar, DVI Intern 

New Year; better you. If you read our previous post about nailing your New Year’s resolutions Down(town), you learned a bunch of ways to help stick to your plans. Alas, it’s about that time that most of us start jumping ship to join the other 60% ditching their New Year’s resolutions.


Not this time!

The rise of young professional groups here in #DTJax has never been better, and they’re all great opportunities to help you get involved in the community, support the arts and/or gain a new hobby.

To save you some trouble, here’s just a few of the tons of organizations based here in Downtown Jacksonville:

The Contemporaries of MOCA

MOCA JaxYoung professionals between the ages of 21-40 are encouraged to connect with their artistic side and join The Contemporaries. The main goal of this organization is to encourage the cultural activity in this city and to bring awareness of the Museum to the public. With monthly happy hours occurring every fourth Friday of the month (from 5-8 p.m.), there are plenty of opportunities to socialize and connect with like minds. Every meet-up is held at a different location, which allows you to visit plenty of local venues all while discussing the newest trends in the contemporary lifestyle.

by: Admin in Thought Leadership (3) Comments  

Whether you call it the “people mover,” the “monorail” or by its official name, the Skyway has been part of the fabric of Downtown Jacksonville for more than two decades.

In recent months, the Skyway has received a lot of attention. Ridership increased by an estimated 50 percent beginning early last year when the Jacksonville Transportation Authority eliminated Skyway fares to implement a new payment system. Seeing the Skyway popularity increase during that time, JTA decided to continue allowing Skyway passengers ride free through October 2013.

This spring, the Skyway was jammed with riders during large-scale events including One Spark and the Jacksonville Jazz Festival. During the five-day One Spark festival alone, more than 40,000 people used the Skyway.

On the heels of this success coupled with JTA’s new pro-Downtown CEO, Nat Ford, the Jacksonville Business Journal recently reported that JTA plans to extend the Skyway to the Brooklyn area of Downtown by applying for federal grant funds this month. The idea could not only assist urban commuters and visitors as well as boost local business Downtown, it could also help bridge the gap between Downtown and the nearby urban neighborhood of Riverside.

One of the more successful monorail systems is Miami’s Metromover, which carried an average of 59,700 riders weekly in April, according to its most recent Ridership Technical Report. According to a 2010 Washington Monthly article by Patrick C. Doherty and Christopher B. Leinberger:

“Households in drivable suburban neighborhoods devote on average 24 percent of their income to transportation; those in walkable neighborhoods spend about 12 percent. The difference is equal to half of what a typical household spends on health care—nationally, that amounts to $700 billion a year in total, according to Scott Bernstein of the Center for Neighborhood Technology. Put another way, dropping one car out of the typical household budget can allow that family to afford a $100,000 larger mortgage.”

Expanding existing transit infrastructure to create more connectivity to our urban neighborhoods will ultimately serve to bring more people Downtown and spur revitalization efforts. Jax2025’s 2013 report issued last month outlines transit goals for Jacksonville. Riding the Skyway is one of the key ways identified to make the community’s vision for creating a “hub of smooth transportation” a reality by 2025.

by: Admin in Uncategorized No Comments  

Jacksonville is lucky to boast one of the most beautiful urban core settings in the country coupled with local groups and initiatives determined to keep it that way.

In 2012, five Downtown buildings were awarded a total of $105,000 in grants from the City’s Commercial Building Energy Challenge. Also last year, Downtown’s Bank of America Tower was awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

The North Florida chapter of the Council is currently raising funds for its Sustainability Resource Center, which found its urban-core home through a partnership with Downtown Vision, Inc. and the Downtown Green Collaborative. Looking forward, USGBC has partnered with the City on an initiative to help curb energy consumption Downtown and across the River City: a free three-part workshop series for the commercial and non-profit business sector. These workshops held at the EverBank Center will cover energy usage, benchmarking, measurement and verification, and how this can affect your company’s bottom-line:

To learn more about the series, visit, where you can register for each of the free workshops. Consider this your invitation to help make Downtown – and all of Jacksonville – a greener, more sustainable city.

by: Katherine Hardwick in Developments No Comments  

Today, two exciting Downtown proposals, one expansion and one redevelopment, will go before the Downtown Development Review Board (DDRB).

The Arbours at Ambassador Place
Birmingham-based Arbour Valley Development, LLC is proposing to redevelop the former Ambassador Hotel, located at 420 Julia Street for residential apartment use. The developer would remodel the 80 existing units to create 57 apartments, a club room and fitness area and would build out a new rooftop clubhouse. From the developer: “Our projects utilize state-of-the art best-practice construction techniques, are environmentally conscious, strive to maximize green space, and accentuate a “work-play” environment.”

Read more about the history of the Ambassador Hotel and view the presentation and proposed renderings at  Metro Jacksonville.

Burrito Gallery Expansion
If, like us, you can’t get enough of these burritos, tacos and quesadillas, more Burrito Gallery is a good, good thing. A Downtown staple since the Super Bowl, Burrito Gallery is proposing to build out a two-story, 1,800 sq ft addition on the back of their existing restaurant. According to restaurant partner, Tony Allegretti, business at Burrito Gallery improves each year. “Downtown is our home and are excited that the Downtown family is growing, especially with the strong entrepreneurial base we have here.” There is no timeline for the expansion currently, but green-lighting this proposal would give the restaurant numerous opportunities for expansion in cooperation with their upstairs neighbor, Indochine.

Check out the presentation powerpoint at Metro Jacksonville.


by: Katherine Hardwick in Historic Preservation No Comments  

Tonight, City Council will entertain public hearings on the Mayor’s $9 million investment plan for Downtown and the mobility fee moratorium. Discussion on the Bostwick Building, however, continues to be deferred at the request of the property owners, but is still scheduled to be on the March 5 Land Use and Zoning (LUZ) Committee agenda.

In light of this, we thought we’d revisit the Bostwick discussion with this excellent design exploration from our friends over at Content Design Group showcasing one option for adaptive reuse:

Urban facelift rendering by Content Design Group

 “This urban facelift obviously just shows one way to save the building, keeping the facade and putting in new windows and doors, adding another steel structure to the walls and roof on the interior, and adding a roof deck with bar. This is the most expensive reuse of the building. Another way to save it, would be to only save the facade and build a new separate building on the interior of the lot. Would make a fantastic outdoor space between the shell of the old and the new.”

Full article and more renderings here.

by: Katherine Hardwick in Advocacy 1 Comment  

Mayor Brown’s proposal to invest $11 million into Downtown and Jacksonville-wide economic improvements is now in the hands of City Council.

With $9 million of the plan dedicated to leveraging private investment in Downtown, it may not be a simple sell. The funds — a result of successful debt refinancing – will be deposited into an economic development trust fund and distributed by the Downtown Investment Authority. An additional $2 million is slated for citywide economic improvements and expansion.

Some may argue that $9 million is too much for Downtown, or that we’ve already spent enough Downtown.

$1.4 billion has been invested in Downtown between 2000 and 2011. Of that, 20% was federally funded; 1% was state-funded; 18% funded the Better Jacksonville Plan: public projects such as the Main Library, the Veteran’s Memorial Arena and EverBank Field; and just 11% was City-funded. The remaining half was private investment.

Successful Downtowns are built on public-private partnerships, with public investment incentivizing private. The public—Jacksonville residents—desire a successful Downtown, ranking Downtown as the number one issue for improvement by the year 2025 and believe a vibrant Downtown is important to the economic health of the region.

DVI believes this $9 million of capital investment will make the biggest impact for Jacksonville when invested in Downtown, fostering activation and growth of the Downtown tax base.  Join us and voice your support for investment in a stronger Downtown and, ultimately, a stronger Jacksonville. Call or write your council members and ask them to support bill 2013-0089. A short sample letter is provided below.

A public hearing on the bill is set for Tuesday, Feb. 26, at City Hall. The bill will also be addressed by the Finance Committee on March 5 at 10 a.m. and by the Recreation Community Development (RCD) Committee on March 5 at 2 p.m. The final vote on the bill will take place on March 12.

Sample Letter
Dear City Council Members,

A strong Downtown is important to the economic health of the Jacksonville region. I urge you to approve Ordinance 2013-89, which would infuse Downtown Jacksonville with $9 million of capital investment. This sum is essential to leverage private investment that will activate and revitalize our Downtown.