1 year ago

J Magazine Fall 2017

The magazine of the rebirth of Jacksonville's downtown


SPECIAL REPORT and we’re getting a lot of excitement because it is one of the music cities in the country. “Jacksonville, I’d think, would be one of those destinations that could have great success. Jacksonville has a lot going for it, being in Florida. And the Jaguars put the destination on the map.” In fact, despite our own inferiority complex, Jacksonville does have a lot going for it: The weather. Downtown arts, culture and sports venues. The river. Handy neighborhoods with good restaurants. The Elbow. The beach. Golf. Mega-shopping within reach. A terrific airport and interstate highway access. And some features that might not occur to you. Phillip Harris, executive director of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology, based in Bloomington, Ind., is bringing its annual convention to the Hyatt Regency in November for the third time, and he has had a great time here: “The cultural and educational venues that are a part of Jacksonville, I have really worked to promote within our membership. Beaches are too far away to be an attraction. But education and culture are really underemphasized in the promotional activities. MOSH, the other museum — the ‘Cummer’? — a good half-day visit. “A group of us went over to this company where they make animatrons for Disney. The Sally company. They do a phenomenal, incredible experience. Our people are technology nerds. “The two African-American brothers (presumably James Weldon Johnson and John Rosamond Johnson) and the theater nearby (the Ritz Theatre and Museum). Those are the kind of cultural and education venues we like. “Most of our attendees are college and university faculty, and their interests are different than nightlife. We meet until 8 or 9 o’clock at night. “We walked down to the contemporary art museum (MOCA), that’s an under-advertised treasure, as to what is there. I stopped at this used-book store (Chamblin’s). I collect James Whitcomb Riley, and I found four volumes! Usually I don’t find any. “Those are the kinds of really neat places that visitors may be more interested in than the Visit Jacksonville people think. A convention center probably would pick up on the importance of communicating the cultural and educational opportunities that are there. “I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that Peterbrooke chocolate is just addictive, the chocolate-covered peanuts. My wife rations them out to me. Another little special treat that people don’t necessarily think about or know about.” Granted the education-technology attendees are “real nerds,” as Harris said, but the point is that there are also sports fans, beach people, architecture enthusiasts, students of black history, golf fanatics, Navy veterans, railroad aficionados and nautical buffs — all of whom would find added value in a Jacksonville meeting. Or could, if we develop and promote some of our lesser-known features, to present Jacksonville as interesting as it is. More on that to come. The city’s newly expanded Human Rights Ordinance is a competitive advantage. After Established in 1919, we are a family owned, Jacksonville based company People Businesses Products 1.800.suddath // ©2017 Suddath Van Lines, Inc. U.S. DOT No. 29609 Fla. IM No. 1411, Sentry Household Shipping, Inc. U.S. DOT No. 2465888 NVOCC 7434N FF 001124, Suddath Global Logistics, LLC U.S. DOT No. 2212216 NVOCC 2894NF, Centra Worldwide, Inc. IAC WP94-01116, IATA No. 0119853, Air Land Forwarders, Inc. FF 000548 32 J MAGAZINE | FALL 2017

I’d think, would be one of those destinations that could have great success (with a modern convention center).” ‘‘JAcksonville, BRAD MAYNE International Association of Venue Managers president and CEO Texas passed a law seen as anti-LGBT, California banned taxpayer-funded travel to Texas. Several other states are considering such bans. The Hyatt’s Caliendo is a three-year newcomer, but he and the Hyatt’s owners feel good about their stake Downtown, making their own bet on the come. “My owners believe in Jacksonville, and they believe in the future of Jacksonville. They made a statement by investing (unspecified millions) in the property over the last three years.” Was the possibility of a convention center on the mind of Morton’s steakhouse when it reopened recently in the Hyatt several years after closing its location on the Southbank? “Absolutely,” Caliendo said. Despite that enthusiasM, no one is arguing that the current state of Downtown could support a convention center. Sanders, whose academic specialty is publicly funded convention centers and the politics of urban development, warned in 2005, “It is abundantly clear that a new or ever-bigger convention center cannot in and of itself revitalize or redeem a downtown core.” “Do not talk about a convention center on its own,” Astleford of Visit Jacksonville said. “It has to be part of a bigger plan and vision for Jacksonville. Cities that see it as part of a package, a bigger attraction, have done very well. So timing would be important. Getting a customer advisory council formed — meeting professionals of all kinds — should have happened a long time ago. Cities that understand that have been really successful in the convention world.” “It is not you-build-it-and-they-willcome,” Caliendo of the Hyatt said. “You have to have the infrastructure. You sell the amenities of what you have.” The new Strategic Advisory Group report was blunt in its bottom-line recommendation: “Postpone the construction of a new convention center … until such time as it is part of a destination plan that will improve the overall attractiveness of Jacksonville as a convention, meetings and major indoor event destination.” SAG said Jacksonville needs more walkable full-service hotels, restaurants, bars, shopping and other attractions before a new convention center could compete MODERN LIVING TIMELESS DESIGN Pineapple’s newest and most exclusive community in Ponte Vedra, FL 904.224.7024 FALL 2017 | J MAGAZINE 33