The Downtown Achievement Award recognizes an individual or organization for a significant body of work that reinforces Downtown as the premier center for arts, dining, retail, entertainment, business and urban living in Northeast Florida. For this award, Aundra Wallace was an obvious choice for the many ways he has championed Downtown Jacksonville as CEO of Downtown Investment Authority for the past 5 years. Hired in 2013, Aundra was the first leader of the new DIA, and immediately oversaw the creation of an updated Community Redevelopment Plan for Downtown through two years of work and community meetings. This plan is Downtown’s current roadmap towards revitalization for the district through investment, large and small.
Under Aundra’s leadership, DIA worked with the Mayor and City Council to invest at least $35 million into Downtown during the last four years, leveraging more than $300 million in private investments in return, which created almost 1,000 new jobs within Downtown.
During this process, Aundra and his agency shepherded numerous projects along – from game changers like the Laura Street Trio and Barnett Building, The District, and The Shipyards, to smaller but still very influential projects like Vestcor’s workforce housing, 20West and the incredible Cowford Chophouse renovation (a DTJax Award winner last year!)
The Downtown Retail Enhancement Program is another project which has paid off in a big return: The DIA program is designed to recruit and retain street level, restaurants, retail and creative office space. More than $695,000 in program funds has been deployed, leveraging over $3.2M in private investment, creating more than 127 new jobs and lots more street life Downtown.
From Bellwether to Bold City Brewery to Jimmy Johns, so many of the venues downtowners love were supported by this program. It’s clear that Aundra Wallace has had an immense impact on Downtown Jacksonville. Although he is no longer the leader of the DIA, we are happy that he will continue to play a major role in our city as President of the JAXUSA Partnership.
Thank you, Aundra, for your continued devotion to our community and for making Downtown Jacksonville a better place for all who live, work, and play here.