On any given workday in Downtown Jacksonville, you’ll notice that among the experienced attorneys and veteran bank workers, there’s a slew of young professionals strolling along the sidewalks during the morning rush, filling up lunchtime eateries at noon and congregating in Downtown bars for after-work happy hours.
It’s all a part of a growing trend of 20 and 30-somethings leaving the suburbs for urban cores, seeking the variety and authenticity of city ambiance. According to Census data, U.S. cities are growing at a faster pace than the suburbs for the first time since the 1920s. And, in Jacksonville, the 2010 Census data shows that about 30% of residents in and near the urban core fall into the young-professional age range.
Paige Calvert, community curator at Downtown’s CoWork Jax, is one such young professional who lives and works on Downtown’s Northbank. For as long as she can remember, Calvert’s been a fan of city life.
“Even as a kid, I was super-obsessed with skyscrapers and being in the city,” she said. “I still want to be in a big city, around people – it’s been a life-long thing.”
Calvert said it’s the energy that appeals to her most – the changing storefronts; the constant familiar and new faces she sees on the sidewalks; the walkability to great dining, concerts and more. She added that many of her friends, including those living in places such as Atlanta and Charlotte, agree. “It’s a lifestyle they all want to live,” she said.
As for the trend catching on in Jacksonville, she’s optimistic but knows the demand for living Downtown is quite higher than the supply. “If there was more residential Downtown, there would be more people Downtown,” she said, “and it would be more of a trend.”
With large-scale projects like 200 Riverside and Riverside Place underway to infuse Downtown with nearly 1,000 residential units plus smaller adaptive reuse projects set to create more residential in the core, we expect to see the number of residents and businesses relocating Downtown to continue to climb.
Do you work and/or live in Downtown Jacksonville? If not, would you consider doing so? Share your thoughts in this blog post’s comment section below.