by: Admin in Resident Spotlights No Comments  
Ian

Downtown resident Ian Latchmansingh

Local interactive designer Ian Latchmansingh has called Downtown Jacksonville home for the last four years – and he isn’t going anywhere. A City Place resident, Latchmansingh loves Downtown for its energy, nightlife and proximity to everyday conveniences. We recently chatted with him about what he loves most about living in the heart of the River City:

Why did you choose to live Downtown?

It seemed natural to move Downtown. I think everyone should live in a city versus a suburb just due to the practicality. I tried to set an example by living here.

Where are you from originally, and how did you end up in Jacksonville?

I’m a New York transplant, but I spent most of my youth in Central Florida. I studied graphic design at Flagler College and was head-hunted just before graduation to work as a designer for an interactive agency in Jacksonville.

What is your professional background?

I’ve been an interactive designer for the last eight years. I’m currently the Creative Chair for the American Advertising Federation of Jacksonville and the Lead Experience Designer for St. John & Partners, an ad agency here in Jacksonville. I also have two independent record labels.

What do you love most about living Downtown?

I have both of my banks within walking distance. I can go enjoy the nightlife of Bay Street with relative ease. I like that we have a monorail like the Springfield of The Simpsons. I also like that I can walk to CoWork Jax events. There are also plenty of conveniences (two 7-11’s within a few blocks!).

How would you describe Downtown’s vibe? 

As someone who’s been on the stage and in the audience, I can say that from either perspective there’s definitely a “vibe” Downtown. It’s more progressive here, maybe subversive even. Additionally, I feel like there’s a collaborative tone. I feel comfortable in any bar or club.

What are your favorite Downtown activities?

I’m a huge fan of Olio, particularly because you can add foie gras to any item. The noodle bar (Pho. A Noodle Bar) is pretty cool, too. The restaurants we have Downtown are worth visiting. I also like the clubs included in The Elbow, as they’re now calling it. I don’t think I’ve bothered deviating from nightlife in that area in a while. It’s been steadily entertaining.

What do you think is the biggest misperception about Downtown?

The idea that it can’t be revived. I regularly hear from native residents that they’ve been ‘trying for years’ to inject some vitality into the Downtown area. If you look at the history and note the amount of spending since the white flight of the last century, it’s clear that over the last 10 years there has been some serious investment in improving the urban core. And lately, with groups like Khan’s investors and One Spark, the private sector may be able to give urban Jacksonville the shot in the arm it needs.

If someone was thinking about moving Downtown, what would you say to them?

Hurry up already! Also, there’s a U-Haul center in the urban core.

by: abruno in Thought Leadership No Comments  

As DVI’s marketing & events assistant, I work hard to ensure Downtown Jacksonville is the place to be.

 

So, when it’s finally lunch time, I’m ready to enjoy myself, yummy food and Downtown’s great urban
atmosphere.

With about a billion dining options within walking distance Downtown (okay, more like 90), I always
have a tough decision to make at lunch time…where should I go? Inspiration strikes as I walk out of the office.

Eat Up Downtown kicks off next week, and a selection of some of the best restaurants Downtown will
be offering $15, $25 or $35 three-course meals. How could I say no?

A die-hard sushi lover at heart, Koja Sushi is a no-brainer for me, AND it’s an Eat Up Downtown venue.
And so, off I go to the Jacksonville Landing!

 

It’s a quick walk to The Landing from the office, but I’m more than thankful for A/C when I arrive.

However, the view offered is hard to pass up. Despite the busy dining room, I decide to brave the heat,
and enjoy the beautiful St. Johns River.

The lunch and dinner boxes are a great deal, and I go with a roll box for my much-deserved lunch treat.

It tastes just as good as it looks.

Obviously, I enjoyed it.

Back to work I go, burning off some calories and dreaming of Eat Up Downtown.

Need a lunch spot? Maybe a dinner date worthy of that special someone? Koja Sushi offers gorgeous views,
delicious eats and a special menu for Eat Up Downtown. The service is wonderful, so you can get back to the
office and on with your day, or take your time and enjoy the atmosphere.

Think you can snap a better picture than me? (You probably can.)

Participate in our Eat Up Downtown photo contest and win awesome prizes, while shamelessly Instagramming your delicious Downtown fare.

Eat Up Downtown runs Aug. 12-25. Participating restaurants, menus, price points and more can be found at eatupdowntown.com. Don’t forget to make reservations!

by: Admin in Events No Comments  

DVI, you, your friends and thousands of other locals aren’t the only ones roaming around Art Walk – so is The Florida Times-Union‘s Matt Pittman. Check out his latest video below, featuring a cameo by our very own Angela Bruno:

by: Admin in Thought Leadership No Comments  

I stride along with calm, with eyes, with shoes
With fury, with forgetfulness….

-Pablo Neruda

Navigating the urban environment on foot provides a variety of experiences and serves many purposes. As I walk to explore the urban core (and maybe beyond), I am challenged not to use planners-speak, but I won’t apologize if any seeps into my discussions overtime.

I talk about walkable communities and the pedestrian environment a lot because walking is the universal means of travel and the way in which we all begin and end all of our trips. The real measure of our urban neighborhoods is determined by how we feel when we are walking along the streets, in front of buildings, on the Riverwalk and through the parks. The pace and purpose of an urban walkabout will determine the proper selection of footwear.

According to the National Shoe Retailers Association, the footwear industries annual revenue is in the $48-billion range. Early civilizations did not wear shoes with fashion in mind, but urban core walkers sport many a fashionable shoe for almost any occasion.

Flats are always a practical choice and safe when trying to negotiate the variety of paving surfaces on our Downtown streets. The choice of paving materials – from concrete and brick to slate tiles and cobblestones – is a fundamental element of the public realm that reinforces the paths through the city. The path below your feet is defined by pattern, texture and color creating, perhaps, a temporal experience as you meander among the other elements such as foliage, lamp posts, storefronts and signage that create the image of the urban core. However, in addition to the aesthetic function of paving material, safety considerations are paramount in the public realm.

Indeed, some of the paving surfaces in the urban core are challenging, so I only walk in my high-heels for short jaunts, and I always carry around my handy flip-flops or tennies if there is serious distance to cover at a fast pace. And I never forget my rain boots for Art Walk.

Show off your shoes. If you walk Downtown, we want to see your footwear of choice, and let us know the most precarious place to navigate on foot. Submit your photo.

 

by: Admin in Thought Leadership 1 Comment  

Angela Bruno, DVI Intern

Before I began working Downtown, I never ventured into the urban core for a night on the town or a day of fun. Aside from my contentment in my Southside “bubble,” I was terrified I would have to park my car miles away from my final destination, forcing me to trek through an unfamiliar urban wilderness. I had visions of wandering through a maze of buildings for hours until eventually collapsing from dehydration. I was a wimp, and I never ventured from my neighborhood to Downtown.

Now, with six months of Downtown strolling, parking, eating and event-going under my belt, I write today to those still stuck in your respective “bubbles.” You can do it! Here’s why:

Parking
Misconception: “There’s nowhere to park Downtown.”
Reality: Parking is aplenty!

Downtown Jacksonville has more than 43,000 public parking spaces. For a frame of reference, Walt Disney World has 32,539. This number includes Magic Kingdom, Epcot, MGM Studios, Typhoon Lagoon and Pleasure Island.

If, like me, you’re a little forgetful, don’t fear! There’s an app for that. Apps like iPark and G-Park will remember where you leave your car, so you won’t have to wander. Or you can always go “old fashioned,” and call our friends in orange: the Downtown Ambassadors are experts in all things Downtown, and will escort you to your car in a flash! For more information on where and when you can park Downtown, visit DVI’s parking database and FAQs.

Walking
Misconception: “Once I finally find an elusive parking spot, I’ll have to walk forever to get to my final destination.”
Reality: Downtown Jacksonville is extremely walkable!

If you’re from my neck of the woods, you shop at the St. John’s Town Center a lot. Say you walk from Target to Maggiano’s – that would be equivalent to walking from the Museum of Contemporary Art to Burrito Gallery at .2 miles.


   

If you find yourself at the Duval County Courthouse at lunchtime, you can also stroll over to Big Pete’s Pizzeria with even fewer steps.

Or maybe you have to park at Publix and walk to my favorite place at Town Center: DSW Shoe Warehouse. That is a half-mile walk, similar to walking from the Main Library to Olio Market.



 

If you’re familiar with Jacksonville Beach, you know that walking from Joe’s Crab Shack to Lynch’s Irish Pub is a quick trip: only .4 miles. Perhaps you’re Downtown and have a hankering for Guinness and a shepherd’s pie: from the parking garage at Clay and Adams to Fionn MacCool’s Irish Pub at the Jacksonville Landing is the same distance.



 

The Bubble
Misconception: There’s nothing Downtown that I can’t get closer to my neighborhood.
Reality: There’s no place like Downtown!

A major factor in my unwillingness to venture Downtown was simply because I was comfortable in my bubble. I ate at chain restaurants, shopped where everyone else around me shopped, and never thought about supporting local businesses.

But then again, why settle for “comfortable,” when Downtown Jacksonville is vibrant, unique and exciting? Where else in Jacksonville can you sip an Intuition beer while perusing millions of used books like in Chamblin’s Uptown and Café?  Sure, you could have the same boring meal for lunch every day, or you could explore Downtown’s many quirky offerings for lunchtime fare, including Chomp Chomp and Pho. A Noodle Bar. Even the nightlife offerings Downtown are dynamic and distinct, including The Elbow venues and The Volstead, a brand new whiskey lounge set to open this August. These aren’t your average, run-of-the-mill businesses, and they’re only Downtown.

    

Has your “bubble” been burst yet? Don’t be scared to park your car, take a stroll, grab a meal and Explore the More!

 

by: Admin in Thought Leadership No Comments  

This is Downtown.

This is Downtown on One Spark.

After more than 20 years as a Jacksonville resident, I’m happy to say Downtown still continues to surprise me. As I stood among the crowd in Hemming Plaza Wednesday night, I saw a city I didn’t recognize, an energy I’ve never felt and pride that cannot be defined.

It’s no secret that One Spark has lit up the heart of the River City. Murals line façades of historic buildings. A larger-than-life “rubber” duckie floats in a Hemming Plaza fountain. Yarn is crocheted around lampposts and fencing and bike racks and an entire stage, all in intricate patterns and burst of color.

That’s only the beginning.

Jacksonville, you don’t want to miss this. Learn about – and try out – the art of hula-hooping on the Riverwalk. Chat with the designer of a Downtown beach proposed for the St. Johns River. See first-hand eco-friendly art, furniture, books and more. Cast your vote to support groups working to make people’s lives better through companion dogs, outdoor recreation opportunities, education and more. Hear live music, enjoy a speaker series, explore Downtown’s restaurants and nightlife.

The urban core is calling. If you’re not Downtown, you’re wasting time. This is Downtown’s time.

by: Katherine Hardwick in Advocacy (2) Comments  

Bike taxidermy

From affixing a grill on the back of your bike, like the elegant “Backbrat,” to turning your beloved old ride into taxidermy (yes, seriously), bike culture is a passion for many. And why not? Biking is good for our health, our planet and our wallets. So then, why don’t we see more bikes in Downtown Jacksonville?

To some extend, the fact that Jacksonville is so expansive plays a role. Most of us aren’t just going to hop on our beach cruisers and pedal over “the ditch” and all the way into Downtown. But more to the point, present day Downtown was not designed for bicycles. One-way streets were implemented in the 1960s with cars in mind, and more specifically to allow cars to travel faster in and out of Downtown – a product of their time but a detriment to cyclists.

Mayor Brown celebrating last year’s Bike Month Downtown.

We are, however, making progress. You may have heard of the Context Sensitive Streets Special Committee, chaired by City Councilmember, Lori Boyer. The committee was created to “review the existing Context Sensitive Streets Guidelines that have been drafted by the Planning Department but not implemented, determine the appropriateness of these guidelines, investigate any other information pertinent to this issue, and make recommendations for and/or draft legislation as appropriate to address this issue.”

In other words, as it relates to cyclists and pedestrians, the committee looks at transportation planning designs to make sure streets fit their physical settings and preserve scenic, aesthetic, historic and environmental resources, while maintaining safety and mobility. The goal is to create streets that don’t put the needs of cars over the needs of everyone else.

At the heart of the issue is safety. Recently, the national Alliance for Biking and Walking ranked Jacksonville as the third-worst large city in the United States in average annual traffic deaths for bicyclists and the second worst for deaths of pedestrians, based on several factors including population.

Bike Share in Downtown Minneapolis

We can learn a lot from cities like Minneapolis, MN, where Downtown is filed with bike commuters and couriers. Bike shares, like these line the streets in Downtown Minneapolis. City buses and trains all have bicycle-carrying capabilities and office buildings are required by law to provide bicycle storage. A master bicycle plan intends to bring all residents within a half-mile of a bike lane by 2020. It’s no wonder Minneapolis was been ranked as one of the best biking city in the country by Bike Score, the #2 biking city by Bicycling Magazine, and the #4 bicycling city in the nation by the US Census Bureau. It’s this type of commitment to cycling that helps energize Downtown Minneapolis.

So its great news then, that the Context Sensitive Streets Committee has drafted legislation to appoint a full-time bicycle/pedestrian coordinator to the Planning and Development Department. As the demand to live and work Downtown increases, we hope to see many more bikes Downtown and a shared understanding of sharing the road.