Downtown Council: Aundra Wallace discusses Downtown initiatives

Aundra Wallace, CEO of the Downtown Investment Authority, speaks at the Friday, Feb. 21, Downtown Council meeting.

The JAX Chamber Downtown Council‘s meeting at the University Club was packed last Friday, Feb. 21, to hear from Aundra Wallace, CEO of the Downtown Investment Authority.

Wallace spoke on a plethora of current initiatives and ideas to help spur Downtown Jacksonville’s revival. He laid out five areas the DIA plans to focus on over the next 10-15 years:

  • Establishing Downtown as a unique, cultural hub for Northeast Florida
  • Spurring a “24-hour” Downtown that is active day and night through focusing on residential projects
  • Defining, establishing and supporting high-priority development projects
  • Enhancing Downtown attractiveness to encourage investment
  • Creating an interconnected network of public spaces

“I’m not swinging for a home run,” he said. “I’m swinging for singles because they add up.”

Wallace also spoke of the importance of larger-scale development and improvement projects. Focuses include the future of the Shipyards, vacant land adjacent to the Prime Osborn Convention Center, the proposed Jacksonville Landing redevelopment, retail enhancement and much-needed improvements to Hemming Plaza.

A hot topic at the meeting was the ease at which visitors get around Downtown. Wallace said one priority in this realm is signage. “How you get to and from [places Downtown] has to be addressed,” he said. He also mentioned the idea of converting many of Downtown’s one-way streets into two-way streets to encourage people to be more comfortable coming Downtown.

Wallace also touched on Downtown safety, more specifically, the common misconception that Downtown is unsafe. In fact, Downtown is one of the safest neighborhoods in the region. Wallace noted that he’s lived in several major cities, and the homeless are just as many, if not more, there than Downtown Jacksonville.

“We don’t have a homeless problem,” Wallace said. “We have a density problem.” The more people come Downtown to enjoy events, dining, nightlife and more, the less apparent the homeless will appear.

Downtown CouncilThe next Downtown Council meeting, March 7, will host Jen Jones, executive director of Unity Plaza, an urban park currently under construction in Brooklyn adjacent to the 220 Riverside residential project. For more information on the Downtown Investment Authority and current projects, visit the DIA’s official webpage or contact Wallace at