In a recent story, The 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.