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.

DSC_3895_webDie-hard Michigan Wolverines fan. Foodie. Loves roller-coasters, movies and, of course, grabbing drinks any night of the week at Dos Gatos. This only scratches the surface of how to describe a Downtown Ambassador familiar to so many – Ambassador Michael.

Always equipped with a friendly greeting and fun story to tell, Mike has enjoyed six years as a Downtown Ambassador, including winning the hospitality industry’s prestigious ROSE Award. “I thought it would be an exciting job to help people out,” he said. “I love making people smile after I’ve helped them.”

And he’s done just that. With those several years under his belt, Mike has plenty of great Downtown memories share. Here are some of his most memorable Ambassador moments to date:

  • He’s brightened days.
    On a walk through Hemming Plaza one day, he came across an older woman who said she was having a bad day. One of her shoes broke, and she didn’t know what to do. Mike took her shoe over to Gus’s, and the shop fixed it on the spot for free. Mike said the woman was so thankful when he delivered her now-repaired shoe back to her in the Plaza.
  • He’s helped thwart crime.
    Last year, he pursued at a safe distance a suspected robber who took cash from a Downtown cafe. He’s also helped apprehend purse snatchers and return several missing cell phones.
  • He’s lent a helping hand.
    About once a week, Mike or Ambassador Lydia helps escort a blind man to his desired Downtown destinations, making sure the gentleman gets safely back on his bus following his errands.
  • He’s kept watch.
    When a hot dog vendor or other street vendor needs a bathroom break or quick cash run to a bank, Mike stands watch until the vendor returns to his/her cart.
  • He’s helped people find their way. 
    About twice a week, he assists Downtown visitors find their cars, whether the vehicles are street-parked or in a garage or lot.
  • He’s welcomed new Downtowners.
    One of his favorite memories, he said, was welcoming and introducing EverBank and C2C Solutions employees to Downtown when the companies moved to the urban core.

Want to meet Mike yourself? Take a stroll Downtown any weekday for dining, shopping or events, and you’re sure to run into him wearing his signature orange Ambassador shirt and smile. For more information on DVI’s Downtown Ambassador Program, visit our informational webpage, which includes contact information and hours of operation.

by: Jennifer Hewett-Apperson in Thought Leadership No Comments  

In a recent storyThe Jacksonville Business Journal asked, “Where does a push for more office workers fit into Downtown Jacksonville revitalization?”

Downtown revitalization is a complex process that does not have a single “magic bullet” solution. Similar to other downtowns, Downtown Jacksonville has historically been the center of commerce and business in Northeast Florida. As businesses relocated to the suburbs, taking large numbers of employees with them, it became clear that in order to thrive, Downtown needed to diversify. This diversification has included a push for more residential population and entertainment destinations. By no means does this diminish the importance of office workers to downtowns. In fact, office workers remain critical to Downtown’s success.

According to DVI’s 2012 State of Downtown report, more than 48,000 people work in Downtown Jacksonville. In addition, EverBank has announced a two-floor expansion, Cushman & Wakefield is relocating to 121 Atlantic Place, the Robin Shepard Agency plans to move in to Riverplace Tower, and 200 C2C Solutions, Inc. employees just transitioned into their new office in EverBank Center last week.

In the works are big renovations for the Haydon Burns Library building, a planned center for nonprofits, as well as renovation of the Groover Stuart building into a multi-tenent office building, to name two larger-scale office development initiatives. There is also an emerging “creative cluster” district of more than half a dozen creative agencies doing business in The Elbow area.

Office workers are critical to the success of the more than 100 combined restaurants and bars located in Downtown Jacksonville. They also are key supporters of the more than 100 retail and service-oriented businesses.

While the residential population in Downtown Jacksonville has experienced substantial growth in recent years, the number of residential housing units is still quite limited and not able to accommodate a population that could sustain retailers on its own. Many of the folks who come Downtown on evenings and weekends for entertainment undoubtedly become aware of Downtown’s offerings as a result of working there.

So, where do office workers fit into the revitalization of Downtown?  They are a critical piece of the puzzle.

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

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 Don’t forget to make reservations!

by: Katherine Hardwick in Historic Preservation, Spotlight No Comments  

Looking to ditch the drab cubical farms with their drop ceilings and fluorescent lights? Ever dream of spending your days in creative workspaces like these? Maybe you remember our article on photographer Tiffany Manning working Downtown.

Flagg Design Studio: lots of natural light, exposed brick and wooden beams

Creative, quirky and customizable office space is in high demand these days. And luckily, Downtown you’ll find just such gems – often tucked away in historic buildings, and walkable to the river for moments of meditation, numerous dining options to keep your palate guessing, and cultural venues to spark that next big idea.

Take the Flagg Design Studio space, pictured right. Cradled in the heart of Downtown’s entertainment district, The Elbow, the studio capitalizes on the bones of the historic 1906 “Livery Building,” the same building that is home to Tiffany Manning Photography.

About the “Livery Building:

“This building is a pleasant reminder of the days when horses and carriages were the primary means of transportation in Jacksonville.  The McMurray Livery, Sale & Transfer Company was established in 1880 by Thomas McMurray, an Irishman.  He came to Jacksonville as a Union soldier in 1864, and he remained here as Chief Deputy U. S. Marshall, a post that he held for eleven years.  His original livery stable was on the corner of Forsyth and Newnan Streets, where he had a lively trade renting and selling carriages and horses.  This business burned in the 1901 Fire, and a new stable was rebuilt on the same site.  The livery business prospered with the post-Fire building boom in this city; and in 1905 McMurray Livery, Sale & Transfer Company purchased this present site for expansion purposes.  This building was constructed the following year, serving as a carriage showroom, blacksmith shop, and stable for horses.

Over the years, as the increasing number of automobiles in Jacksonville helped bring about the demise of the livery business, this property was sold and was variously used as a plumber’s shop, a printing company, a gas station, and a garage.  In 1972 architect William Morgan purchased the former livery stable and restored its facade to the original configuration. Its interior now houses professional offices and a parking garage.  The east wall of this structure marks the approximate location where Jacksonville founder Isaiah D. Hart built his log cabin when he came to Cow Ford in 1821.”

- Excerpt from Metro Jacksonville.

For more information on available space in the Livery Building, contact Bob Ascher, Guardian Commercial at 904-880-5656. If you’re looking to bring your office or retail business Downtown, we’d be happy to work with you to locate spaces to fit your needs or connect you with a local realtor. Contact Terry Lorince at 904.634.0303.

We also offer a number of resources on our website under “Doing Business,” such as: Demographics & Statistics, Economic Incentives and Legislation, Available Retail Space and Downtown Sustainability information.

by: sbeever in Thought Leadership No Comments  

Think it’s difficult to find parking in Downtown Jacksonville? Now that’s a myth worth busting.

When I received a call for my first interview Downtown, I wasn’t worried about finding the building or the right office. Instead, my head was filled with horror stories from friends who constantly complained about the lack of parking.

Needless to say, I left my house three hours early to ensure I would locate one of those “illusive” parking spots, but to my surprise, I found one a block from my destination. It turned out parking Downtown wasn’t so difficult after all.

In a recent Downtown Marketing Collaborative survey, only 28 % of the respondents said parking was easy. As a new member of this statistic and a Jacksonville native, I was surprised that the percentage was so low. Downtown has more than 43,000 public parking spaces including lots, garages, metered street and peripheral parking. It’s important to remember that although you may not be able to park directly in front of your destination every time you visit, it’s nearly a guarantee that you can find spaces within a short walk just like Riverside, the Town Center or the Beaches.

With this said, if you are still worried about finding a convenient spot, it always pays to plan ahead. Downtown Vision, Inc.’s website offers a database of parking information and FAQs.

Also, the City is currently testing a new smartphone app, Parker that locates blocks with vacant parking spaces in real time. This free demonstration uses more than 100 Streetline sensors in metered spots along Laura Street as well as three crossing streets (Bay, Forsyth, and Adams) to help make your experience even easier.

In addition to the plethora of spaces, parking in Downtown is inexpensive. Meters only cost 25 cents  for every 30 minutes and are free on weekends, city holidays and after 6 p.m. Quarters, nickels and dimes are accepted by all meters and, in high-traffic areas, solar-powered meters accept credit cards as well as coins.

Don’t let this parking myth prevent you from experiencing the urban core. Remember, there are more than 43,000 public parking spots and you only need one.


by: Katherine Hardwick in Downtown Shout-outs No Comments  
On moving his business Downtown: “The visual arts, those types of business — it feels like it belongs [Downtown].  It feels like a lot of really good energy. I feel like the location’s really cool.”
 - Shane Douberly, Dripsblack

Read the full article at Jacksonville Business Journal: New to Downtown, owner of animations studio says creative biz belongs in urban core