Summer 2019

riverside1

J Magazine, Summer 2019

THE MAGAZINE OF THE REBIRTH OF JACKSONVILLE’S DOWNTOWN

THE PLAY

I S S U E

NORTHBANK

NOW THAT THE

CITY HAS SEIZED

THE LANDING,

WHAT’S NEXT?

P30

POWER MOVE

JEA DIDN’t need

to look far for

ItS next HQ

P38

INTRIGUING PEOPLE

THINK YOU’VE MET

ALL THE fascinating

people DOWNTOWN?

THINK AGAIN.

P44

DISPLAY THROUGH AUGUST 2019

$6.50

OF

THE

STATE

PLAY

» DEREK

REICHARD

bartender at

Downtown

cocktail lounge

Dos Gatos

THERE’S FUN TO BE

FOUND DOWNTOWN,

BUT IS IT ENOUGH?

P14

SUMMER 2019


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Urban Living

in Downtown

Jacksonville

100%

occupied

100%

occupied

coming fall 2019


THE MAGAZINE OF THE REBIRTH

OF JACKSONVILLE’S DOWNTOWN

GREATER

TOGETHER

H

THE MAGAZINE OF

THE REBIRTH OF

JACKSONVILLE’S

DOWNTOWN

H

PUBLISHER

Bill Offill

GENERAL MANAGER/

CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Jeff Davis

EDITOR

Frank Denton

ADVERTISING

Liz Borten

WRITERS

Michael P. Clark

Roger Brown

CONTRIBUTORS

Carole Hawkins, Shelton

Hull, Dan Macdonald, Charlie

Patton, Denise M. Reagan,

Lilla Ross, Caron Streibich,

Marilyn Young

MAILING ADDRESS

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contents

Issue 2 // Volume 3 // SUMMER 2019

14

THE STATE

OF PLAY

BY FRANK DENTON

30 38 44 60

WHAT’S NEXT

FOR THE LANDING

BY CAROLE HAWKINS

JEA’S POWER MOVE

BY MARILYN YOUNG

5 INTRIGUING

DOWNTOWNERS

BY ROGER BROWN

POLISHING THE

CROWN JEWELS

BY CHARLIE PATTON

64 72 76 80

THE BROOKLYN

REVIVAL

BY FRANK DENTON

REIMAGINING A

RENEWED LAVILLA

BY MIKE CLARK

TINY HOUSE VILLAGE

FOR VETERANS

BY LILLA ROSS

‘URBAN REST STOP’

AIDS HOMELESS

BY ROGER BROWN

BOB SELF

6

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


BEHIND THE SCENES:

Looking for fun in the core? Look

no further than Dos Gatos, at 123 E.

Forsyth St., and bartenders Caroline

Bryn, Derek Reichard and Devon

Chase. The cocktail lounge celebrates

its 10th anniversary this fall.

J MAGAZINE

PARTNERS

DEPARTMENTS

9 FROM THE EDITOR

10 RATING DOWNTOWN

11 BRIEFING

12 PROGRESS REPORT

26 CHECKING THE PULSE

28 THE BIG PICTURE

60 CORE EYESORE

92 QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

98 THE LAST WORD

THE MAGAZINE OF THE REBIRTH OF JACKSONVILLE’S DOWNTOWN

THE PLAY

I S S U E

NORTHBANK

NOW THAT THE

CITY HAS SEIZED

THE LANDING,

WHAT’S NEXT?

P30

POWER MOVE

JEA DIDN’T NEED

TO LOOK FAR FOR

ITS NEXT HQ

P38

DISPLAY THROUGH AUGUST 2019

$6.50

OF

INTRIGUING PEOPLE

THINK YOU’VE MET

ALL THE FASCINATING

PEOPLE DOWNTOWN?

THINK AGAIN.

P44

STATE

THE

» DEREK

REICHARD

bartender at

PLAY

Downtown

cocktail lounge

Dos Gatos

THERE’S FUN TO BE

FOUND DOWNTOWN,

BUT IS IT ENOUGH?

P20

SUMMER 2019

ON THE COVER

As Downtown entertainment ebbs and

flows, some places – like local cocktail

lounge Dos Gatos and bartender Derek

Reichard – continue to have loyal

followings. // SEE PAGE 14

STORY BY FRANK DENTON

PHOTO BY BOB SELF


2019

CLAIM YOUR TITLE!

BOLDCITYBEST.COM

NOMINATIONS: JUNE 9 - 23 | VOTING: JULY 21 - AUGUST 4

Bold City Best is brought to you by

@BOLDCITYBESTJAX

#BOLDCITYBEST


FROM THE EDITOR

Berkman II sham

ends in 465-mile

wild goose chase

FRANK

DENTON

PHONE

(904) 359-4268

EMAIL

frankmdenton@

gmail.com

t first I thought the joke was on

A me.

I had driven to Biloxi, Miss., to

check out the Margaritaville Resort, whose

developers were planning to replicate the

“family entertainment center” — plus a

Ferris wheel — on the beleaguered Berkman

II site on Jacksonville’s riverfront. I

wanted to give you a preview and reassure

you the project would be an asset to our

Downtown revitalization.

When I got there, I discovered that I would not be

seeing a typical weekend “family” crowd at the resort because

it was college spring break, and the students were

more likely to be on the beach and in the bars rather

than in a family entertainment center. Police were everywhere,

as last year’s event drew 30,000 rowdy revelers

to what was called one of the “the biggest, wildest, most

talked about outdoor parties in America.” As a relatively

old guy taking notes, I figured I might stand out.

Then, over lunch the first day, I saw a Jacksonville.

com story that the developers had abruptly pulled out

of the Berkman II project, and I realized the joke was on

Jacksonville.

I had smelled something fishy as the developers, a

group called Barrington Development based in Biloxi,

had not returned my phone calls or emails — a red flag

to a journalist.

After all, the promoters had a lot to talk about. Their

original news release promised a 340-room hotel, a water

park, a parking garage and this: “Located adjacent to

the hotel will be Florida’s newest indoor/outdoor family

entertainment center with a state-of-the-art arcade with

over 200 of the newest and most popular games, indoor

attractions including ropes courses and a rock wall with

amusement rides outside along the river’s edge … this

property will have something for all ages.”

That sounded like a complement to our Downtown

being revitalized with attractions aimed primarily at

adults, a perfect pairing with the proposed MOSH expansion

across the river.

When the developers pulled the plug, they blamed

the Navy’s cancellation of the USS Adams warship museum

at the site and environmental contamination on the

property — though both situations had been known for

months.

More likely, they were responding to revelations

by the Times-Union’s Christopher Hong that the main

Barrington investor had $11 million in legal judgments,

unpaid debts to contractors and delinquent taxes. One

company said it was still owed $243,000 for furniture for

a Margaritaville in Vicksburg, Miss.

Needless to say, this didn’t sit well with City Council

members being asked to approve up to $36 million in

public incentives for the Berkman project.

Barrington said they “remain committed” to developing

the Berkman skeleton, now with a “right-sized” hotel,

70-80 residences on the upper floors and a ground-floor

restaurant.

We’ll believe it when we see hardhats and hammers.

This time, as the Times-Union editorialized, the DIA

and city auditors should not just take the developer’s

word that they are legitimate and free of legal and financial

baggage, but should investigate them thoroughly

— and put the information before the public before the

deal is announced and the Times-Union watchdogs start

sniffing and digging.

Downtown revitalization has become a surprisingly

emotional subject for people who love Jacksonville and

want it to become a complete city. We have enough John

Q. Cynics out there without feeding them more pie in the

sky, financial shenanigans and failure.

Thank goodness for our local developers whose

projects you can see happening Downtown or credibly

on the horizon. After all, they live here.

The Biloxi weekend was not entirely wasted. Across

the road from the glitzy beach strip of casinos, hotels and

that Margaritaville “Escape family entertainment center”

is the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art, which has remarkable

Frank Gehry architecture but remarkably skimpy

exhibits.

Investing some of that Margaritaville money into that

authentic local attraction could create a real asset for

quality of life in Biloxi.

Frank Denton, retired editor of The Florida

Times-Union, is editor of J. He lives in Riverside.

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 9


POWER

RATING DOWNTOWN

By The Florida Times-Union Editorial Board

Barnett Bank project inspiring

renewed enthusiasm in the core

7

8

6 6

MIN

MAX

MIN

MAX

MIN

MAX

MIN

MAX

PUBLIC SAFETY

LEADERSHIP

HOUSING

INVESTMENT

Serious crime remains low, and

Hemming Park has become

vastly more welcoming, at least

until late night. We hope the new

Urban Rest Stop will help lower

the negative perception caused

by transients and panhandlers.

Outgoing City Councilwoman

Lori Boyer continues to lead on

the river, zoning and, soon, as

CEO of the DIA. JEA stays in the

core. And Mayor Curry fulfilled

his promise to resolve

the Landing.

All those new apartment

buildings will close in on the

critical mass of 10,000 people we

need living Downtown. We hope

more of them are market-rate.

JAX Chamber is becoming active

in drawing Downtowners.

Despite the retreat by the

Berkman II developers, investors

see Downtown gaining momentum.

While public subsidies make

investment decisions easy, we’re

looking forward to the purely

market-supported projects.

PREVIOUS: 7

PREVIOUS: 8

PREVIOUS: 6

PREVIOUS: 6

5 5 5

4

MIN

MAX

MIN

MAX

MIN

MAX

MIN

MAX

DEVELOPMENT

EVENTS & CULTURE

TRANSPORTATION

CONVENTION CENTER

Read the story on Brooklyn’s

rebirth and you’ll see how

convergence of housing, retail

and public works can create a

whole new community.

Something similar is happening

in the Cathedral District.

PREVIOUS: 5

We lost the USS Adams to Navy

nervousness and the Berkman II

project to developer nervelessness,

and the Landing, such as it

was, is closing. But our diverse

range of entertainment venues

continue growing nightlife.

PREVIOUS: 5

Riverplace Boulevard is

showing how a road diet makes

our car-centric streets more

walkable and bikeable. Park Street

in Brooklyn is next, connecting

to both LaVilla and Riverside.

PREVIOUS: 5

With the old City Hall and

courthouse site off the table as a

possible convention center site,

the city has chilled the whole

idea, awaiting more Downtown

development to make us more

attractive to conventions.

PREVIOUS: 4

OVERALL RATING

We’re still inspired by the Barnett Bank completion and

the exciting progress and promise in LaVilla and Brooklyn.

All those new apartments are being filled rapidly,

hurrying us toward a critical mass of residents.

As a symbol, we need a re-envisioned Landing!

PREVIOUS: 6

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

JEFF DAVIS

10

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


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207,810 24-27

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»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»

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DIGITS

The square

footage of a new

nine-story JEA

headquarters

building planned

for 325 W.

Adams St.,

adjacent to the

Duval County

Courthouse.

The number

of months the

Ryan Companies

expect the JEA

project to take.

(PAGE 38)

BRIEFING

By The Florida Times-Union Editorial Board

Thumbs up to longtime

City Councilwoman

Lori Boyer becoming

the new CEO of the

Downtown Investment

Authority. Given Boyer’s

passion, vast knowledge

and proven track record

in addressing Downtown

issues along with her

visionary work in putting

together a bold plan

to reduce the number

of Downtown zoning

designations, her hiring is

a home run.

Thumbs up for Jacksonville

showing up in the

top 10 of Money magazine’s

Best Places to

Live in America list.

The list ranks cities with

at least 300,000 people

that are affordable, offer

promising job growth and

have interesting neighborhoods.

Thumbs down to the

still-sparse number of

Downtown locations

that offer pedestrians

shade during hot

days and cover during

rainy ones. Can’t we all

start grasping the fact

that Jacksonville has a

subtropical climate —

and needs a Downtown

that fully reflects that

fact? And, please, no

more useless palm trees!

HITS & MISSES

Thumbs up to a project

to have 18 tiny

apartments —

made out of shipping

containers — built on

East Ashley Street in the

Cathedral District. Each

unit would be the size

of a hotel room, and

the whole apartment

complex would be a cool

addition to Downtown.

Thumbs down to the

reality that there still isn’t

enough being done to

draw people into Downtown

on the weekends

just because they love the

idea of being Downtown

— and not because they

have come there for

some special event. Case

in point: On one recent

beautiful, 87-degree

Sunday, it was possible to

throw a rock down Laura

Street from the Main

Library to the foot of

the Landing and not even

come anywhere close to

plunking anyone walking

on either sidewalk.

Thumbs up to the recent

upgrades on the

riverwalks, which

include a colorfully

renovated restroom and

benches with shade along

the Southbank and new

wayfinding markers on

both the banks.

FIRST PERSON

«««««««««««««««««««««««««««««««««««««««

»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»

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»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»»

Thumbs up to the

rising home prices

in the near-Downtown

neighborhoods of Riverside

and Avondale, as

well as Ortega. A lively

Downtown must have

healthy nearby neighborhoods

offering a variety

of housing options that

attract high interest on

the market.

Thumbs up the rescheduled

Rolling

Stones concert at

TIAA Bank Field. The

legendary rock group will

now appear July 19. The

original date had been

canceled after iconic lead

singer Mick Jagger had

heart surgery.

Thumbs down to

Downtown

parking that still

isn’t as convenient as it

should be in the center

of a major American

city. St. Augustine is

handing Jacksonville its

lunch when it comes

to making downtown

parking easy and

hassle-free. St. Augustine

is moving toward

an app-based system

for parking in the city

center; in contrast, our

Downtown still has too

many outdated parking

meters.

“We want a very well designed public space that draws people in.

It will become a more open public space that excites people

and provides a way for families to enjoy the waterfront.”

DIA Interim Director Brian Hughes ON THE FUTURE OF THE LANDING (PAGE 30)

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 11


OAK

HOUSTON

FORSYTH

J MAGAZINE’S

PROGRESS REPORT

LAVILLA

BROOKLYN

UNITY

PLAZA

ADAMS

JOHNSON

PRIME OSBORN

CONVENTION

CENTER

MONROE

LEE

DAVIS

BAY

WATER

LaVilla

Townhomes

Vestcor, developers of

several apartment complexes

Downtown, plans to build 70 townhomes in

LaVilla valued around $250,000 each. As part

of a deal with the city, Vestcor would donate

$100,000 to Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing Park.

STATUS: Vestcor hopes to close with the

city this year, with groundbreaking no later

than nine months later.

PARK

MAY

OAK

FOREST

MAGNOLIA

JACKSON

RIVERSIDE AVE.

MADISON

JEFFERSON

BROAD

CLAY

PEARL

Brewster Hospital

Jacksonville’s first hospital for African-Americans

was built in 1885 and also served as a

nursing school. The city spent $2.3 million restoring

and moving the building to 843 W. Monroe St., then

leased it to North Florida Land Trust.

STATUS: Renovation is complete and the Land Trust moved

in, setting aside a room for a historical display open to the

public. A new historical marker is coming.

Brooklyn

Station

The “jughandle”

that allowed big

trucks access to the old Times-

Union building will be removed,

and a land swap with the city will

allow expansion of the shopping

center.

STATUS: With the

redevelopment agreement

approved, the street-closure

legislation was poised to pass the

Council. Next: permitting.

Residence Inn

A six-story, 135-room hotel is planned

on the block between Oak and Magnolia

and Dora and Forest in Brooklyn, across

from Unity Plaza.

STATUS: The land has been purchased, and DIA and

DDRB have approved. Construction pending, with

completion next summer.

JEA Headquarters

JEA chose the Ryan Companies to

build its new $72 million headquarters

at 325 W. Adams St., next to the courthouse,

with an 850-space parking garage nearby.

STATUS: Ryan will negotiate to buy the property

from the city, requiring DIA approval, and work out

final lease terms with JEA. Construction could start

in April.

ACOSTA

BRIDGE

JULIA

TIMES-

UNION

CENTER

HEMMING

PARK

HOGAN

BAY

Hyatt Place

hotel

Main Street LLC, developer

of the parking

garage at Hogan and Independent

Drive, bought the parcel at Hogan

and Water and plans to build a

nine-story hotel with 128 rooms and

a rooftop restaurant and bar.

STATUS: The Downtown

Development Review Board has

approved the design. The developer

is awaiting an air rights easement,

as the balconies will extend over

sidewalks. Legislation is pending.

BEAVER

ASHLEY

CHURCH

DUVAL

LAURA

JACKSONVILLE

LANDING

MAIN STREET

BRIDGE

MAIN

FRIENDSHIP

FOUNTAIN

SAN MARCO BLVD.

RIVERPLACE

MARY

PRUDENTIAL DR.

OCEAN

N

RIVERSIDE

12

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019

Jacksonville Landing

The city paid Sleiman Enterprises $15 million to give up its longterm

lease, and City Council approved another $3 million to buy

out tenants’ subleases then raze the copper-topped structure.

STATUS: All tenants should be out by October, with demolition starting soon

after, though the future of the Landing is still under debate, fueled by a justreleased

2015 consultant’s study and Mayor Curry’s sense of urgency.

FULLER WARREN BRIDGE


NEWNAN

FLAGLER

SPRINGFIELD

MARKET

NORTHBANK

WASHINGTON

ST. JOHNS

RIVER

SOUTHBANK

KIPP

LIBERTY

KINGS

Shipping-container apartments

JWB Real Estate Capital plans to build an 18-unit studio-apartment

complex using repurposed shipping containers

on a tiny plot at 412 E. Ashley St. in the Cathedral District.

STATUS: JWB is seeking city incentives, according to the Business Journal.

CATHERINE

ONYX

PALMETTO

Lofts at the Cathedral

Cathedral District-Jax is working with Vestcor

on a $20 million project to transform

the old Community Connections (YWCA)

property at 325 E. Duval St. into about 115 workforce and

low-income apartments.

STATUS: The Legislature approved $8 million as the state’s

portion of the cost. The district hopes to close with

Vestcor in October.

Hotel Indigo

A developer bought the old Life of the

South building at 100 W. Bay St. to convert

it into a seven-story, 89-room boutique

hotel with a rooftop restaurant and bar.

STATUS: The developer zapped the project and sold the

building to VyStar, whose new headquarters is next door.

VyStar is seeking permits for interior demolition and

renovation.

VETERANS

MEMORIAL

ARENA

A. PHILIP RANDOLPH

Laura St. Trio and

Barnett Bank Building

A $79 million project is renovating the iconic

buildings into residences, offices, a Courtyard by

Marriott, commercial/retail and a UNF campus.

STATUS: Barnett is opening, with the Residence at Barnett

apartments attracting a reported 800 applications for about 100

units. The UNF space is open. Next: Construction of the nearby

parking deck. The Trio renovation could begin this summer.

Berkman Plaza II

The 23-story structure has been

an eyesore since it collapsed under

construction in 2007. The new owners

planned a $150 million 312-room hotel and a “family

entertainment center.”

STATUS: After questions about the background of an

investor, the developer canned the project and said it

will substitute a smaller hotel and some residences.

BASEBALL

GROUNDS

GEORGIA

Downtown

parking

DIA hired a consultant

to do another study

covering all aspects of the issue, including

availability, regulation, technology

and pricing.

STATUS: The consultant’s report should

be completed by the end of June.

FRANKLIN

SPORTS

COMPLEX

ADAMS

GATOR BOWL BLVD.

TIAA

BANK FIELD

DAILY’S

PLACE

Parking Lot J

and Shipyards

Shad Khan’s proposed development

will begin on Lot J next

to the stadium with an entertainment complex,

two office towers, a 200-room hotel and

a 300-residence tower.

STATUS: Razing Hart Expressway ramps to

make room for the project was delayed until

after football season. The $500 million Lot J

construction will be simultaneous. The deadline

for Khan’s Iguana Investments to work out a

redevelopment agreement with the city for

the Shipyards was extended to June 30, 2020.

City Council has approved rezoning.

The District

Peter Rummell’s healthy-community concept will

have up to 1,170 residences, 200 Marriott hotel

rooms and 285,500 square feet of office space,

with a marina and public spaces along an extended Riverwalk.

STATUS: The Community Development Board is getting the

ducks in a row, including engineering and clearing the way for

issuing bonds. An RFP seeks a health and wellness partner to

create the “Base Camp.” Marina approvals continue. The hotel is

in final design. Negotiations with the “green grocer” continue; it

will be a new brand for Jacksonville.

HENDRICKS

MONTANA

Tuk’N Tours

A new service provides three-hour tours of Downtown’s

architecture, history and other features via three-wheeled,

six-passenger, open-air electric vehicles. Price: $19-$49 each.

STATUS: See gotukn.com/ for more information and to make reservations

for pickup at TIAA Bank Field or Downtown hotels.

SAN MARCO

DOWNTOWN

JACKSONVILLE

TRACKING DEVELOPMENT IN THE URBAN CORE

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 13


PL

THE

PLAY

ISSUE

THE STATE OF

ABY FRANK DENTON

ILLUSTRATION

BY JEFF DAVIS

14

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


WINTER 2018-19 | J MAGAZINE 57


The state of play Downtown

offers a little something for

a few people and not nearly

enough for a whole lot more.

What will it take for the core to

become a hotspot that attracts

people after the workday ends?

The

New Urbanism principles of live-work-play, where

people can build their lifestyles and community without

commuting all over creation, are used as sort of a vision

for a truly revitalized Downtown Jacksonville. If those

three things happen together, we’ll have synergy building

into critical mass and, finally, a Downtown worthy of

our city.

The “work” part we’ve got down: More than 55,000

people work Downtown, the last State of Downtown

Report said, and it’s increasing steadily.

The “live” goal is actively in process. Last year, 4,842

people lived Downtown, and more were standing in

line to fill the ever-growing number of new apartment

complexes being built, with average occupancy of 96

percent. Conventional wisdom says we need 10,000 for

that critical mass, and the official goal is 13,730 by 2025.

But what about that “play” thing?

When we surveyed people in Duval and surrounding

counties in 2017, 75 percent said they “never” or

only “a couple of times a year” came Downtown for

entertainment or leisure activities. While that improved

to 70 percent in 2018, it still showed a profound lack

of connection between Northeast Floridians and their

urban center.

The number one reason people don’t come

Downtown, they said, was some variation on “there’s

nothing to do there.”

So J magazine asked four local writers to take a deep

look at what Downtown offers — and should offer —

from four different perspectives: during the daytime,

especially for families; evening events; late-night revelry

and restaurant options.

Our weakest point may be the first. Downtown is so

weekday-work-focused that, aside from a few cultural

assets like MOCA and MOSH, a family has to search to

find a good time Downtown. We do have our almost

secret treasures: Chamblin’s Uptown, the antique map

collection at the Main Library, the historical photos

display at City Hall, Treaty Oak. You can always score

some sugar at Sweet Pete’s Candy and consume it catty-corner

on the reactivated Hemming Park.

We had a chance to make a substantial leap toward

family-friendliness with the proposal to turn Berkman

II into a “family entertainment center,” but questions

about a financial backer spooked the developer to

back off those plans and fall back on maybe another

apartment building and hotel. And the Navy reneged

on donating the USS Adams to create a naval museum

in the river off Berkman.

The conclusion: Downtown planners need to put

a daytime/family frame on Downtown development,

including following through on the grand MOSH

expansion.

Our strong point is the great variety of evening activities.

Our examination noted that Jacksonville once

was “a one-show town,” but now we have a rich array

of venues for live performance. Pick your show at the

Times-Union Center, Florida Theatre, VyStar Veterans

Memorial Arena or Daily’s Place. Heck, pony up for the

Rolling Stones at TIAA Bank Field.

But you may have to scramble for supper first. Aside

from a few gems like Cowford Chophouse, Bellwether

and Gili’s Kitchen, our restaurant scan found few interesting

or excellent dining options Downtown.

Our critic blamed “Downtown’s chronic syndromes:

lack of activity, density and connectivity.” The

eateries will come when the feet on the street do.

Finally, for those of you able to keep your eyes open

and enthusiasm up after hours, our late-night writer

says Downtown is developing a real and diverse bar

and music scene, mostly around the Elbow, along and

off Bay Street, and the block on Adams between Laura

and Hogan.

He offers a helpful tip to get your toe in: If you want

to sample Downtown late-night, start with the first

Wednesday Art Walk, when the bars and clubs open a

bit earlier to take advantage of the foot traffic.

The bottom line is that survey from a couple of

years ago about “nothing to do” Downtown is way out

of date. There’s a lot to do now — but we need a lot

more.

Frank Denton, retired editor of The Florida Times-Union,

is editor of J. He lives in Riverside.

16

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


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THE

PLAY

ISSUE

Day Break

BY DENISE M. REAGAN // PHOTO BY BOB SELF

18

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


The quest for Downtown family fun

reveals the challenge to find engaging

activities after 5 p.m. and on the weekends

When

Friends of Hemming Park first assumed management

of Jacksonville’s central park, the group had

a crucial objective: Make women and families feel

safe and comfortable when they visit. If they could

accomplish that goal, everything else would fall in

place.

Six years later, Hemming Park has made progress,

even if there’s still room for improvement.

Downtown should be striving for that same goal,

but there are some barriers.

The biggest impediment blocking the core from

becoming a daytime family-friendly destination?

The stranglehold of weekday 9 to 5 schedules.

Nearly all of Downtown is focused on capturing the

business of people who work there during the week.

A few stay-at-home parents might be able to take

advantage of weekday activities, but most families

require weekend hours.

Weekends are barely acknowledged by Downtown

businesses. Unfortunately, they simply don’t

have the foot traffic to make weekend hours a

reality.

After years of regular trips to Downtown Jacksonville,

my daughter and I are pros. On a recent

Saturday outing, we were incredulous that so few

restaurants were open for lunch. Besides a couple of

fast-food joints, only a handful of restaurants in the

core have lunch hours: Intuition Ale Works, D&G

Deli and Grill, Bay Street Bar and Grill, River City

Brewing Company.

We chose to sit on the back patio at Burrito

Gallery and dug into a trio of salsa, guacamole,

and queso with chips along with our burrito and

quesadilla. We counted two other tables occupied

outside. We spotted a family of three eating lunch at

a nearby table. The mother used to live in a high rise

on the Southbank when she worked at Sweet Pete’s

Candy, but now they live in Mandarin. They had

just attended a birthday party at Sweet Pete’s, and

we commiserated about the lack of lunch options

on the weekends. Her daughter fed tortilla chips to

birds that whisked away with chips held tightly in

their beaks.

After lunch, we walked to Wolf & Cub where we

found a jacket, a thrift shop find from the owners’

trip to Paris, and a T-shirt imprinted with a playing

card graphic depicting the store’s mascots.

We strolled by Chamblin’s Uptown — open seven

days a week! — on our way to the Main Library

to visit the Jax Makerspace (jaxpubliclibrary.org/

jax-makerspace). The space includes a wide variety

of activities: a green screen, sewing machines,

building kits, recording equipment, etc. The space

also hosts several art exhibitions each year, such as

“On the Fringe.” We admired mixed-media paintings

by Thony Aiuppy, textile works by Billie McCray, and

fanciful gourds hand-carved as striking water birds

by Mindy Hawkins. Richard McMahan’s miniature

recreations of masterworks were striking for their

detail and charm. The next exhibition, “Reclaimed,”

was scheduled to open during June’s First Wednesday

Art Walk and runs through Sept. 22.

We headed next-door to the Museum of Contemporary

Art Jacksonville (mocajacksonville.

unf.edu), where a family annual membership is just

$100. We walked up a few steps to the Project Atrium

space to view “Since You Were Born,” a mural depicting

four months of search history by artist Evan

Roth, on view through June 23. The images covered

three walls up to the third-story ceiling and continued

on the floor. The museum provided booties that

slip over your shoes so you could walk on top of the

images for a closer look.

We explored a selection of [Continued on page 86]

« Berlin-based artist Evan Roth amid the installation of his exhibit, “Since You Were Born,” at MOCA Jacksonville’s Project Atrium.

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 19


THE

PLAY

ISSUE

Good

Evenings

BY DAN MACDONALD // PHOTO BY WILL DICKEY

20

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


The next time you find yourself in a hurry to

race home after work, stick around for a few

hours and unwind while exploring Downtown

What’s

the hurry to sit in traffic after work? It’s understandable

that a parent’s day is hardly done after

closing shop in a Downtown office. But those without

the responsibility of having to gather children

from daycare and prepare the nightly meal, there’s

no need to rush and join the hurry-up-and-wait traffic

that is I-95 or I-10 or San Jose or Roosevelt during

the go-home parade.

Stick around. There are things to do in Downtown

after 6 p.m.

There was a time not so long ago that Downtown

businesses were like many offices. When quitting

time came, nearly everything closed. That’s hardly

the case these days. There are restaurants and activities

that are just getting started when workers have

punched out for the day.

Downtown clearly needs to offer more. While

some progress is being made, City Hall has yet

to come up with a vision for a new Jacksonville

Landing. Still too many restaurants are content to

specialize in just serving breakfast and lunch. Art

Walk continues to draw crowds to Hemming Park

on the first Wednesday of the month, but the Friends

of Hemming Park budget limits the special events

programmed there after 5 p.m.

Already Downtown offers the river, wellness

centers, an ever-growing number of bars open for

happy hour, and major venues VyStar Veterans

Memorial Arena and the Florida Theatre — setting

attendance records year after year. With the addition

of Daily’s Place, the city has yet another major

player in the music and entertainment scene, which

is helping draw a greater number of acts that would

have bypassed Jacksonville in the past. On any given

night, it’s possible to partake in a number of different

entertainment options.

The diversity of entertainment also brings an

eclectic collection of people into the city center. Back

in April, tuxedo and tattoo crowds shared the same

space at the Times-Union Center for the Performing

Arts when the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra

performed in Jacoby Symphony Hall while the

heavy metal band Dream Theater was in the Moran

Theater across the lobby.

What Downtown needs as much as anything is

more feet on the street, whether in sneakers, sandals,

heels or oxfords.

Or even barefoot. A good way to unwind is to

take advantage of the St. Johns River by spending

some time riding on the St. Johns River Taxi. It is

not just a form of river transportation. For a $10 day

pass, passengers can relax and just ride the boat as

it transports other passengers. No food or beverages

are served on the boat, but Heather Surface, the river

taxi owner, encourages people to bring a bottle of

wine and a picnic-style snack to enjoy during the

cruise. Its website details its several specialty cruises

and private party packages.

Healthy diversions

Remove the stress of sitting for eight hours with a

workout at either the YMCA or Anytime Fitness. The

Y has two downtown locations. The Winston Family

YMCA on Riverside Avenue is a complete family

workout and social facility. Besides the large gym

area, there is a basketball court and saunas as well as

a Healthy Living Center and a Teaching Kitchen.

Tim Burrows, executive director at the Winston

YMCA, said the facility, with its many amenities, is a

destination location for Y members from throughout

the region. “It is one key cog in the wheel of revitalizing

Downtown Jacksonville, from Riverside all the

way down to the Sports Complex.”

The YMCA in the basement [Continued on page 87]

« Jumbo Shrimp baseball fans enjoy a game against the Montgomery Biscuits on Thirsty Thursday at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 21


THE

PLAY

ISSUE

Night Moves

BY SHELTON HULL // PHOTO BY BOB SELF

22

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


As more people choose to live Downtown,

the bars, restaurants and clubs that provide

nightlife in the core begin to light up

Well,

if Manhattan is the city that never sleeps, then

Jacksonville would be one that naps, a lot.

That was once far more true than it is now. For

years, the lack of late-nightlife Downtown was as much

a part of the city’s brand as many of the things that actually

did exist, but a decade’s worth of combined effort

by the public and private sector have led to a healthy

uptick in foot traffic and business activity. This year is

expected to have some of our most heightened activity

in years, as far as bars, clubs and restaurants go.

With the Jacksonville Landing easing its way into

history, this summer will be the first in more than 30

years without that venerable shopping plaza to anchor

the social life of Downtown, and no one knows for sure

exactly how that will impact the rest of the neighborhood.

We do know, however, that their peers have

been operating independently of Independent Drive

for years already, so none of the recent developments

will have come as a shock to anyone who’s been paying

attention.

Civic leaders have been pushing for enhanced

Downtown development for decades now, but things

really began to pick up speed 15 years ago, as the city

was gearing up to host Super Bowl XXXIX in February

2005. Downtown nightlife was spotty, at best, in the

years just before, with a handful of dive bars and relatively

high-profile clubs like Mark’s, Dive Bar and TSI.

By and large, though, unless you were in your 20s

and going out to dance and drink, there was really

no reason to hang out Downtown after hours, except

maybe the Landing, which had begun its long-slow,

precipitous decline years before.

All that changed as the new millennium began, and

an increase in nightlife options brought with it a commensurate

increase in foot traffic, thanks largely to the

rise of Art Walk, and business owners began to finally

see some much-needed momentum, which brings us

to the present and a Downtown scene

that is much busier and more diverse than perhaps

ever before.

A long night out is best when it begins with a nice

meal. Your options abound Downtown, but that is better

done earlier than later. Many eateries in the urban

core close after lunch or at the end of business hours.

Certain others stay open until 9 or 10 p.m., sometimes

a little later on the weekend, while all retail establishments

shut their doors long before that. Gallery spaces

are the same, but they will sometimes keep odd hours

for key openings or other such special occasions. It’s

worth getting out early to check out some of these

places. And for what it’s worth, summertime sunsets on

the St. Johns River are just gorgeous.

After your meal, it’s time to walk off those calories

with a little bar-hopping. Your nightlife options are

largely concentrated in a several-block radius that

is easily walkable, no matter how lazy one might be

feeling. In terms of after-hours activity Downtown,

everything revolves around Bay Street, which quickly

emerged as the area’s primary bar district, with a variety

of nightspots spanning several blocks that will appeal to

most interests.

The strip begins at the corner where East Bay Street

intersects with North Ocean Street. That corner is two

blocks down from Burrito Gallery, on Adams Street,

which stays open with food, drink and sometimes live

music (usually rock, soul or fusion) until 2 a.m. Thursday-Saturday.

On your way up toward the Elbow, be sure to stop at

Dos Gatos. Located on Forsyth Street right across from

Casa Dora, Space Gallery and the Florida Theatre,

Dos Gatos essentially ushered what quickly became a

million-dollar market for craft-cocktails (and the highend

spirits that animate them).

Just a few feet down, [Continued on page 88]

« Fans of the band Tauk take in the show at 1904 Music Hall, a live music venue on North Ocean Street in Downtown Jacksonville.

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 23


THE

PLAY

ISSUE

Hunger

Games

BY CARON STREIBICH // PHOTO BY BOB SELF

24

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


From Bellwether to Cowford Chophouse to

The Happy Grilled Cheese, eclectic restaurant

options are vital to Downtown’s livelihood

Great

downtowns are a smorgasbord for the senses.

They glisten and grind and waft vibrations of coolness

day and night. They exude vibrant diversity and

kitschy, artsy, organic realism without even trying.

And without a doubt, they smell like things are cooking,

whether from a late-night pizza stand, a taco

bus, or a Michelin-starred eatery.

On that last point, I have a grievance with you,

Downtown Jacksonville. I’ve given you nearly five

years of my work life, and I’ve even had a few novel

bites along the way to and from the office. But

through it all, I can’t help but feel the burners are

off in our urban core. How can we make it a true

culinary destination?

Just as winning sports teams and performance

venues are magnets for human activity, restaurants

have much the same effect. Having an abundant

mix of reputable eateries — fast-casual, sit-down,

upscale, ethnic, healthy — is vital to keeping people

interested in working Downtown, living Downtown,

moving hordes of their employees Downtown, and

telling others how much they love Downtown.

Great urban cores boast slurp-worthy ramen,

Indian buffets, doughnuts and sashimi, Barcelona-grade

tapas, artery-aggravating soul food,

pre-concert fuel and late-night not-ready-to-gohome

greasy fries, food halls, old-school ice cream

shops, and sandwich masterpieces from smarmy

service stations.

On one hand, I feel it’s all within reach here in

Cowford. But the ones that have it press up against

our urban core, harass it, lean in suggestively and

whisper, “Don’t you want a taste?”

In Brooklyn, I visit fast-casual trifecta Vale Food

Co., BurgerFi and Zoe’s Kitchen, and occasionally,

“daytime café” First Watch or Burrito Gallery’s

rooftop. But just try to walk there from the core and

you’ll easily blow up your lunch hour and a good

pair of shoes.

Same goes with Southbank treats bb’s, The

Bearded Pig, Clara’s Tidbits, Sake House, The

Southern Grill, The Wine Cellar, Ruth’s Chris, The

Charthouse or River City Brewing Company. Extra

points to the latter three for touting riverfront views

— though dated interiors — and The Bearded Pig for

its enclosed kids’ area. I’ve enjoyed bb’s for years, but

it’s not pedestrian-friendly from the Northbank.

Activity, density,

connectivity

So why are these gems just out of Downtown’s

reach? The simple fact is that restaurants are but a single

piece of what makes urban districts thrive. To fully

understand the dearth of culinary options north of the

St. Johns, I chalk it up to three of Downtown’s chronic

syndromes: lack of activity, density and connectivity.

First, the activity. In most of Downtown after 5 p.m.

and on weekends, street-level activity sputters to a

dim hum. Nightlife is limited. Events are sporadic, but

not consistent. Sports events to the core’s east hardly

register due to the chasm that is our jail and police department,

not to mention the hulking skeleton of a condominium

that creates a virtual east-west checkpoint.

A popular restaurant (or restaurants) theoretically

should drive traffic to an area. Ongoing programming

— daily and nightly, not just weekly or monthly —

should drive traffic, too. Marry the two in regular ceremonies,

and the guests will soon follow. Then throw

in a bodega or standard grocery to appeal to would-be

residents.

Anthony Hashem, owner of fast-casual eatery The

Happy Grilled Cheese on Hogan Street, echoes this

sentiment. “The gorgeous apartments going in one

block from us on Adams Street [Continued on page 90]

« Giovanni Roman, front of house director at Cowford Chophouse, inspects glassware on the table settings before customers arrive.

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 25


Q:

CHECKING

More than 4,000 readers of

The Florida Times-Union

have volunteered to be part of

the Email Interactive Group.

They respond to occasional

questions about public issues

in our community.

Eileen Erikson,

Isle of Palms

We need safe places to eat

near the Times-Union Center.

Charles Winton,

Jacksonville

We need a hop-on-hop off

tram that could be as much of

a draw as the cable cars in San

Francisco or New Orleans.

Amelia Gaillard,

East Arlington

I generally feel safe

Downtown except after

dark, walking through

dimly lit areas populated

with apparently homeless

people staring me down. I

was obviously unwelcome in

“their” territory.

Jack Knee, Nocatee

We need something like Gray

Line Tours Downtown.

THE PULSE

Judy Johnson,

Jacksonville

Downtown needs more nice

restaurants. We are missing

shopping and more reasons

to come downtown. When

reading the J magazine,

everything sounds great with

all kinds of promises, but year

after year nothing happens.

Laura D’Alisera,

Mandarin

Art Walk is fun, and we

should have more of that

kind of energy in Downtown

programming. If the Landing

is demolished, the green

space should be like the park

in downtown Charleston,

with fountains, walking paths

and gazebos for people to

enjoy the riverfront. With

Metropolitan Park and the

Landing scheduled to go

away, there needs to be an

outdoor performance space

for smaller events.

Jane White,

Ponte Vedra Beach

I think it would be wonderful

if we had an aquarium in

Downtown Jacksonville.

By Mike Clark

What kind of additional

entertainment options

are needed in Downtown

Jacksonville?

Camilla Crawshaw,

Jacksonville

I love downtown areas of small

towns and big cities. But in

my past homes (eight cities in

five states), some had water

features and periodic events.

All of them had hotels, stores

and restaurants and lots of jobs

in floors above street level.

Michael Cross,

St. Augustine

Build a footbridge across the

river (our own little arch),

something architecturally

interesting, something

defining. Open an Imax theater.

Make roadways just for golf

carts. Have free concerts every

Friday and Saturday night.

Offer subsidies for any of these.

Build it and they will come.

Michael McGahan,

Jacksonville Beach

I would like to see more

family-friendly events and free

musical concerts Downtown.

It would be nice to have more

college baseball games at the

ballpark.

Eileen Erikson,

Jacksonville

The theater area needs more

ambassadors to help people

navigate safely around town!

Eduardo Balbona,

Jacksonville

A new downtown

neighborhood should be

our goal. A Downtown

neighborhood means people

living in an interesting area

with public spaces, shops,

restaurants and, yes, plenty

of bars.

Tom Bary,

Neptune Beach

For a Downtown renaissance

to truly take place there

needs to be an influx of

interesting restaurants that

serve excellent food and have

interesting atmospheres in

the city center. I also think

there needs to be quality

residential.

The Landing is key. Put in an informal meeting

place, band shell and glass floor for looking down

at the water. Let food trucks in and make it a T-shirt

kind of place. A historic ship would be nice. Maybe

a zip line. Bring back the ship museum. Get 10

plans, take the best of the ideas.

Jeff Cooper, Southside

26

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


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SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 27


THE BIG

PICTURE

SHIPPING

Container

APARTMENTS

IN THE WORKS

RENDERING BY

Fisher Koppenhafer

Architects

If all goes to plan, a three-level

apartment complex built with 18

shipping containers will soon pop

up on an empty lot in Downtown’s

Cathedral District.

According to JWB Real Estate

Capital President Alex Sifakis,

each container would house a

320-square-foot apartment, roughly

the size of a hotel room, with a

living room, full-sized bathroom,

small bedroom and kitchen. Rent

could start at $550 a month.

“We’ve been getting people

coming out of the woodwork

interested in it,” Sifakis said. “it

seems like 50 percent think it’s the

dumbest thing … and about 50

percent think it’s the greatest thing

ever and they want one now.

“You’ll be able to tell they’re

shipping containers from the

outside,” he said, “but some really,

really good-looking shipping

containers.”

28

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 29


THE JACKSONVILLE LANDING

By CAROLE HAWKINS

PHOTOGRAPH BY NATE WATSON

30 J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019 NOW WHAT?


SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 31


“WE HAVE IT NOW.”

That’s what Brian Hughes said in a May phone interview

about the future of The Jacksonville Landing. At the

same time, the city was sitting at the closing table,

buying back the festival marketplace that had for

decades languished on Downtown’s struggling

retail scene.

“I am not at all adverse to a public conversation

[about what happens next]. The mayor

is excited for it,” said Hughes, interim director for

Jacksonville’s Downtown Investment Authority.

“We’re about to unfurl the future for the epicenter

of our urban core and totally rework it.”

As this article goes to press, political will stands

behind tearing down the Landing, and if that happens,

the city will rebuild from a blank canvas. So

what would come next?

A tranquil riverside park, maybe with a museum? A

destination play space, with an events plaza? Trendy

open-air restaurants and shops, high-rise offices and

apartments? An active urban experience shared across

generations, or a vacant green space overrun by shabby-clothed

panhandlers?

Thus has ranged the conversation over the likely future of

one of Downtown’s most controversial properties.

White elephanT

The Landing is a cornerstone to

Downtown revitalization. It’s located at a

crossroads, connecting Hemming Park;

the Laura, Hogan and Water street corridors,

and the Riverwalk. These are places

where other revitalization is underway

— a collection of riverside improvements

including a new pocket park, the old courthouse

demolition, and the redevelopment

of the Barnett Bank building and the Laura

Street Trio. From the Landing, pedestrians

can travel to other Downtown places,

using the Skyway, water taxi, bus or the

Main Street Bridge.

The Landing could be the crown jewel

in a connected string of Downtown destinations.

But right now, it isn’t. The horseshoe-shaped

retail complex faces away

from the city, blocks the view of the river

from the Laura Street corridor and crowds

the walking space along the Riverwalk

down to single-file.

The Landing was built in 1987 as a

festival marketplace. The concept — a

combination enclosed mall and events

plaza — was designed to lure suburbanites

back Downtown. It came to Jacksonville

at a time when the retail tide was already

beginning to turn against indoor malls.

Councilman John Crescimbeni said even

in its early years, the Landing was a flop.

Crescimbeni owned a Hickory Farms

franchise, with other stores in Avondale,

Jacksonville Beach, Mandarin, Lake City

and Waycross, Ga. He was at The Landing

in 1989, just two years after it opened.

32

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


CITY OF JACKSONVILLE

“It was the worst location I ever operated

in 37 years,” he said. “I think everybody

was so desperate to do something with

that piece of property they didn’t look

closely at the details.”

Years of struggle

In 2003 the Landing’s original owner

sold the underperforming venue to local

developer Toney Sleiman. Sleiman owned

the buildings, but leased the land from the

city. The ensuing developer-city relationship

was marred by controversies over

parking, safety and upkeep.

In 2015 the DIA hired outside consultants

with experience in urban waterfront

design to help both parties work out

redevelopment of the Landing. The team

accumulated extensive public input. But

disagreements between Sleiman and the

city continued, and the project fizzled.

In 2017 the battle hit the courts. It

ended earlier this year, with a $15 million

settlement that sold ownership of the

Landing to the city.

Now that the city has it back, it can turn

the page on the venue’s troubled history.

The mayor last summer floated the

Mayor Lenny Curry’s earlier idea to demolish the

Jacksonville Landing and turn most of the property

into a riverfront plaza with trails and fountains. The

site would have two buildings for commercial activity.

idea of an iconic park — a large grassy

space next to the river, punctuated by two

commercial buildings. That differs from

the 2015 DIA vision, which had imagined

a more active riverside park, with dining

spots, a playground, a grassy events space,

a public plaza and a mixed-use commercial

building.

Hughes said it could be as late as Octo-

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 33


The 2015 design plan for the Jacksonville Landing showed a two-level public plaza. The lower level would have steps taking people down closer to the St. Johns River.

ber before outstanding lease agreements

are resolved with the sub-tenants that

remain at the Landing. So, there’s time for

the public to append some new ideas to

previous thoughts on what comes next.

Calls have been made to replace the

Landing with an equally iconic structure. It

sounds exciting. A park? Kinda boring.

It doesn’t have to be.

“I think a park in connection with

other things to do Downtown is the way

to go,” said Elena Madison, vice president

at Project for Public Spaces. “Especially if

you think of your public destinations as a

network, instead of individual islands.”

So, how do planners separate the good

from the great when it comes to urban

parks?

engagE people

Ask yourself, Madison said, are people

there or not? You don’t simply want a

grassy contemplative place where you can

be on the water. That kind of park has a

different function, one more appropriate

for a residential neighborhood than the

heart of Downtown.

Urban parks are multiuse destinations,

with event lawns, public plazas, dining

spots and retail kiosks. They engage people

with playgrounds, climbable art and

touchable water features.

Downtown Detroit activated an underused

lawn by transforming it into a seasonal

beach, with a large sand-filled area,

lounge chairs, a deck, and a beach bar and

grille. In the winter, the space turns into an

ice skating rink.

Harvard University activated its campus

public spaces with outdoor seating,

URBAN DESIGN ASSOCIATES (2)

34

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


food trucks, a pet therapy zoo, and fire

rings for roasting marshmallows.

Urban parks create more energy when

special events are paired with everyday

uses. Parks that rely only on events will be

active during performances, but empty

the rest of the day.

Also, anything that discourages people

from stopping and staying is not the way

to go. Think of the planters laid across

seating areas at Hemming Park.

“If that’s the approach, then why are

you building a park?” Madison said.

“Just running and biking through it is not

enough.”

A lot of placemaking is thinking about

the history and uses that make that space

interesting, said Dan Amsden of MIG, a

Berkeley-based planning and design firm.

Sacramento’s historic riverfront area

had for decades been home to T-shirt

shops and tourist attractions, with few

offerings for local residents.

But Sacramento has its roots as a

railroad city. So, developers began adding

historic railroad elements back into old

Sacramento’s re-purposed restaurants

and buildings.

“It drives interest and excitement,”

Amsden said. “It gets people into the

experience of a place.”

Urban parks

Privately owned restaurants, stores and

other commercial venues often support

the urban park’s public assets by earning

the income that pays for maintenance and

public events. It’s important to make sure

the privatization enhances, rather than

overtakes, public use, though.

“Waterfronts are too valuable to simply

allow developers to dictate whatever

happens there,” Madison said. “You

should put public goals first, not private

short-term financial objectives.”

Instead, look for commercial uses

that complement public ones. Restaurants

and bars mix well with events.

Residential buildings can bring more

around-the-clock activity, but don’t

overdo it.

“In the last 20 years we’ve seen a

strong desire with waterfront development

to do what’s easiest, which is highrise

residential,” said Madison.

It may turn a park into the private

backyard of wealthy riverside condo

owners who control everything that

happens there.

If residences are part of the plan,

locate them at the perimeter of a park,

not next to a core entertainment area,

HOT TAKES ON THE FUTURE OF THE LANDING

“[I’ve heard suggestions from young people, like having]

climbing walls and boulders. In Europe you have small,

400-square-foot restaurants that add to the experience

of the park. You have shaded places where people can

sit down. It would be cool to have a mini field, for

somebody who wants to kick around a soccer ball.

A kayak launch was mentioned. A place where you

could rent jet skis was mentioned. How cool would it

be to have a botanical garden?”

Matt Carlucci

City Councilman-Elect

“More open and flexible spaces. If you look at Hemming

Park right now — all of that built environment makes

it challenging for events. You have the fountain, you

have a little riser, and you have railings everywhere. It

probably makes more sense to be flexible with a lot of

grass. When the Jaguars win the Super Bowl, where

are we going to have our parade? Where is our giant

meeting space?”

Jake Gordon

Downtown Vision CEO

“[For the income-earning components] we’ll need to decide

how much we’ll divvy it up as far as potential residential

versus office and potential retail. I think there will be an

RFP process, where proposals can say if it’s all public

space and we lease them under a long-term [agreement],

or if we isolate parcels and sell them, so they become

privately owned and developed under guidelines. Then,

what’s constructed will generate property taxes which

will help us maintain [the park].”

Brian Hughes

DIA Interim Director

“To me it’s a vibrant gathering place at the

intersection of the Riverwalk and the end of Laura

Street … It could be a very active space that has a

plaza and stage, with events going on at all times.

That seems more appropriately urban for this

area. But I also believe you need green relief in

an urban setting. So I don’t think [something

similar to Riverside’s] Memorial Park is

completely off base either.”

Lori Boyer

City Councilwoman

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 35


This rendering from 2015 shows how the redevelopment of the Jacksonville Landing would look when viewed from the St. Johns River looking toward downtown.

Amsden said. He recalled a Sacramento

developer who built a trendy pop-up

outdoor bar out of shipping containers.

It was exciting, but it was right next door

to some of the most expensive condos in

Sacramento. Complaints shut the venue

down.

“Outdoor bar-goers at 2 a.m. next to

expensive condos was not a good thing.”

Amsden said.

Retail HAS CHANGED

Even though the Landing’s retail

faltered, downtowns are one place where

retail can still succeed. It just looks different

these days.

The trend is moving away from a single

product line sold in a single store and

towards experience-based retail, Amsden

said.

Sacramento regularly closes off two

city blocks for street fairs. When it does,

the nearby retail becomes a mash-up of

bars with artists painting pictures, while

patrons visit and buy T-shirts.

“At the end of the day, it makes it fun

and interesting,” Amsden said.

Next steps

When news of Jacksonville’s agreement

to buy the Landing hit the media,

public opinion flurried. Nostalgic photos

of a crowded Landing from years gone by

appeared on Facebook. People wondered:

Should parts of the iconic copper-roofed

building be repurposed? Would a new

city park become a magnet for homeless

people?

Councilman-elect Matt Carlucci said he

received 128 comments on the Landing.

He called for a public charrette.

But Hughes said it’s a been-there-donethat

kind of a situation. DIA’s 2015 charrette

already collected opinions from hundreds

of participants.

“We’re not going to hit the pause button

and go backwards several years. We know

what should go there. The public has

already told us,” Hughes said.

The size and scope of The Landing does

warrant extra public input, Hughes said.

But it will probably take the form of public

lunch-and-learns, such as those held for

other major developments like The District

and the Berkman II.

For such a large project, opinions are

already surprisingly aligned.

Almost everyone agrees they want

development to be set farther back from

the river. And they want to open the river

view along the Laura Street corridor. It

also appears the Landing is to become a

mixed-use park, more than a retail marketplace.

It won’t be just another city park that’s

hard to sustain and to manage either,

Hughes said.

“We want a very well designed public

space that draws people in. And we’ll keep

it financed by building into the long-term

plan some privately developed space,” he

said. “It will become a more open public

space that excites people and provides a

way for families to enjoy the waterfront.”

We’re looking forward to it. After decades

of being stuck in a holding pattern,

The Landing’s future finally looks bright.

Carole Hawkins was a reporter

for the Times-Union’s Georgia bureau

in 2007-10. She is a freelance writer

who lives in Murray Hill.

URBAN DESIGN ASSOCIATES

36

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


We know

Jacksonville.

Times-Union is a name you can trust.

We have built our business on a commitment to truth and

fair-dealing, and we take very seriously our role in the community

as the arbiter of truth, and the protector of our democracy.

The trust we have earned is a privilege and we work continuously

to keep and nurture that trust. We’re committed to pushing

the conversation of Jacksonville’s growth forward at every turn.

1 Independent Dr Suite 200

Jacksonville, FL 32202

904.359.4318

jacksonville.com


By MARILYN YOUNG

RENDERING BY THE RYAN COMPANIES

38

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


The new JEA headquarters will be

located on a block at 325 W. Adams

Street and feature a nine-story tower

and attached parking garage.

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 39


TJEA’s board of directors selected the Ryan Companies as the developers to build a new headquarters at 325 W. Adams Street, east of the Duval County Courthouse.

he old and the chosen new JEA headquarters sites are just a few blocks

from each other, less than a half-mile walk: the current JEA building

on West Church Street, showing every bit of its 56 years, and the empty

city-owned block on West Adams Street, a prime spot to help breathe

life into that part of the urban core.

Their close proximity tempers some of the immediate tangible economic

benefits the new JEA headquarters may bring.

A company the size of JEA moving to

the urban core from elsewhere would bring

hundreds of new customers for restaurants,

bars and shops. But many of the 760 utility

employees making the short move are likely

already eating or shopping at businesses

near the West Adams Street location.

While the project doesn’t contribute to

the residential density that Jacksonville’s

urban core needs, it adds to the intangible

feeling of progress.

When Ryan Companies begins work on

the $72 million headquarters, the activity

will be a sign that Jacksonville’s urban core is

continuing its renaissance.

Impact around

the new site

JEA’s West Adams Street site is in the

Downtown area visually dominated by

the monolithic Duval County Courthouse,

which opened in 2012.

Many speculated the courthouse moving

three-quarters of a mile from its East Bay

Street site would drive retail and restaurant

development in the area with its employees

and the attorneys who needed to file

motions and attend hearings. It didn’t,

especially after electronic filing eliminated

the need for many attorneys to make the trip

to the courthouse.

Nor did the move of the State Attorney’s

Office from Bay Street to across North Pearl

RYAN COMPANIES

40

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


“We have a successful track record of taking complicated

Downtown projects and creating places for the building’s

users and the community to thrive.”

Doug Dieck

Southeast Region president for Ryan Companies

Street from the courthouse.

So, it’s understandable that JEA’s move

a shorter distance will not solely drive the

need for many new restaurants and shops,

particularly since the bulk of the impact will

likely be felt during regular weekday business

hours. The utility’s new site will have

its own restaurant (as does the current one),

and most of the employees work shifts when

they head home in time for dinner.

“This is a more minor shift compared

to the courthouse,” said Oliver Barakat, a

Downtown Investment Authority board

member who also is senior vice president

with CBRE Inc. “I don’t think it will create

that catalytic activity that people tend to

believe it will.”

There will likely be some storefront

demand. “You might see two or three more

storefronts in that area,” he said.

Christian Oldenburg, managing director

of Colliers International Northeast Florida,

said the courthouse’s move generated a little

more interest in land “out that direction.”

“The reality is things take time to take

root,” he said.

Barakat said the area also will benefit if

other projects planned nearby, such as at

the Ambassador Hotel and the Jones Brothers

Furniture building, are completed.

“If all those projects together happen,

I think you’re going to see probably more

development happen and more confidence

in that area of Downtown,” said Barakat, one

of two original DIA board members serving

since its inception in 2012.

Staying Downtown

It was critical that JEA decided to remain

in the urban core versus heading to the suburbs.

That loss would have been devastating

at a time when Downtown is enjoying some

long-awaited momentum.

And it wouldn’t have just been felt by

the lights being shut off in the well-known

building with the iconic glass top floor that

once was a high-end revolving restaurant.

The biggest losers would have been many

restaurants that depend on several hundred

of the utility’s worker to provide a steady

lunchtime business. It could have been the

JEA’s 760-point scorECARD USED to rank the proposals

LOT J

Cordish Companies & Iguana Investments

KINGS AVENUE

Chase Properties Inc. & Parkway Property Investments

325 W. ADAMS ST.

Ryan Companies

Building program accommodation

Workforce engagement,culture

Presentation and interview

Customer engagement

Timing and site control

Economic development

BOARD SCORE AVERAGE

Development schedule

TOTAL STAFF SCORE

Quantitative summary*

TOTAL SCORE

JEFF DAVIS

LOT J

KINGS AVENUE

325 W. ADAMS ST.

SOURCE: JEA

Potential points:

20 120 80 80 40 60 60 200 660 100 760

20 92 40 30 32 40 45 200 499 69.25 568.25

15 88 50 30 23 45 30 190 471 63.25 534.25

10 75 65 55 17 45 50 190 507 78.75 585.75

*Total or annualized cost and life cycle costs

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 41


“We don’t need a Sydney Opera House. But I do believe there

is a role for architecture to play in government buildings.

... I don’t want to add just another glass box Downtown.”

Alan Howard

JEA board chair during the headquarters-selection process

LEFT: JEA’s current headquarters is located at

21 W. Church St.

RIGHT: A former JEA headquarters building at

233 W. Duval St. has sat vacant for nearly 20 years.

death knell for some already on the edge.

Staying Downtown was important to

the utility from the beginning, said Alan

Howard, who was board chair during the

headquarters-selection process.

“The staff and board analyses both

agreed that the invitation to negotiate

should include, as a criteria, a Downtown

location,” he said.

Two of the three bidders to make the

shortlist met that benchmark: the West

Adams Street location and a Shad Khan-led

effort in a planned $500 million development

in Lot J near TIAA Bank Field.

Howard said the strength of the bid

from a third team, which included respected

Jacksonville developer Mike Balanky,

deserved to be a finalist despite the site at

the Kings Avenue Station being just outside

DIA’s boundaries.

Not choosing Khan’s project quickly

silenced the conspiracy theorists who

believed that a fix was in and the JEA board

would kowtow to pressure from City Hall

to select the proposal from the Jacksonville

Jaguars owner.

The two sites that were not chosen definitely

would have benefited by landing JEA’s

headquarters, but their projects can still

thrive without it.

Oldenburg said he it would have been

nice to see JEA select Lot J and “hopefully

get some momentum in that direction. But

I understand that JEA’s job isn’t really to

advance Downtown development. … They

have to make the decision best for their

business.”

He believes Lot J developers saw JEA’s

headquarters as an opportunity to “jumpstart”

their project. “In the long run, provided

they stick to it, there could be potentially

another opportunity,” he said. “Maybe a

better opportunity.”

JEFF DAVIS (2)

42

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


“There’s a general belief if you have a strong

periphery but a weak core, that the weak core almost

overshadows the strength in the periphery.”

Oliver Barakat

Downtown Investment Authority board member

JEFF DAVIS

Oldenburg said he understood why

JEA decided to build a new headquarters

but ideally would have liked the utility to

absorb some of the current vacancy to

reduce the vacancy rate and help stabilize

the market.

Barakat said projects like the new JEA

headquarters add to the momentum happening

in Downtown, which is good for the

entire city.

“There’s a general belief if you have

a strong periphery but a weak core, that

the weak core almost overshadows the

strength in the periphery,” he said.

Joining ‘great bones’

of Downtown

Downtown was also important to Ryan

Companies, a firm with success in corporate

headquarters, build-to-suit and office

projects in urban core areas, including in

Arizona, Iowa and Minnesota.

“We have a successful track record of

taking complicated Downtown projects

and creating places for the building’s users

and the community to thrive,” said Doug

Dieck, Southeast Region president for Ryan

Companies.

He said Downtown Jacksonville has

“great bones” in buildings like The Florida

Theatre and the former Barnett Bank Building,

being redeveloped by Steve Atkins.

He also called Hemming Park “a fantastic

amenity (that) should be treasured.”

Dieck said Ryan Companies selected

three potential solutions for JEA’s headquarters:

redeveloping the current site, the

West Adams Street location (Block 48) and a

block north of the courthouse.

“Ultimately, they chose Block 48, and

we couldn’t be more thrilled,” he said. “We

really feel this is their best choice.”

In mid-April, the DIA put the 1.5-acre

property up for sale and will choose the

best bid for the property, which is expected

to be Ryan Companies. The site is appraised

at $2.3 million; Ryan bid $2.6 million. When

the building is complete, Ryan would hand

it over to JEA on a long-term lease.

Dieck said Ryan hopes to close on the

property in November and start deep foundations

by the end of the year.

JEA HEADQUARTERS TO REMAIN IN THE CORE

Former JEA

headquarters

233 W. Duval St.

Duval County

Courthouse

325 W. Adams St.

The site chosen

for the location

of JEA’s new

headquarters

95

FULLER

WARREN

BRIDGE

ACOSTA

BRIDGE

Hemming

Park

FORSYTH ST.

The Landing

MAIN ST.

BRIDGE

Friendship

Park

MAIN ST.

OCEAN ST.

ADAMS ST.

KINGS AVE.

Howard said he had an extended

discussion with the design team at Ryan

Companies about potential changes in the

building’s exterior, particularly to add “a

more iconic design that references Jacksonville

and Northeast Florida.”

“We don’t need a Sydney Opera House,”

he said, referring to the arts center in Australia.

“But I do believe there is a role for architecture

to play in government buildings.

... I don’t want to add just another glass box

Downtown.”

Howard said the design team was “very

open” to his suggestions.

Dieck agreed, saying the company is

“very open to understanding and embracing

the customer’s needs and their ideas on

look and functionality.”

What’s next for

the old site

The next decision JEA may be making

is what to do with its current headquarters,

which it bought in 1989 and is much

larger than the utility needs today. Two

other structures make up its Downtown

campus — a parking garage and a motor

Current JEA headquarters

21 W. Church St.

ARLINGTON EXPY.

St. Johns River

95

Lot J

One of

the JEA

site finalists

Kings Avenue

One of the

JEA site finalists

MLK JR. PKWY.

TIAA

Bank

Field

Metropolitan Park

pool building.

Gina Kyle, media relations manager

for JEA, said the utility plans to market the

A DOZEN RIVER

The VIEWS deteriorating IN condition THE of the

URBAN CORE

buildings at some point.

building costs JEA millions a year to maintain

it and will play a role in whether the

structure will be renovated or demolished.

1

Barakat said he has been contacted by

two out-of-town developers about the JEA

tower.

“They’ve never been inside and don’t

know the condition,” he said. “But there are

some developers that have an interest in

developing in Downtown Jacksonville but

have not been able to find an appropriate

building of scale to justify coming down

here.”

He said there’s a fair amount of energy

in the community toward preservation of

properties.

“I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion

that demolition is its future,” he said.

MARILYN YOUNG was an editor at The Florida

Times-Union in 1998-2013. She lives in northern

St. Johns County.

N

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 43


intriguing downtowners

By ROGER BROWN

Photos by BOB SELF

44

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


Enjoying a cup of coffee and

some delightful conversation —

at the Urban Grind.

Having a sense of

concern about the number of transients

and homeless people.

Savoring the ease of being able

to easily walk or drive to and from

countless adventures and attractions.

Longing for more activity, more people,

more late-night dining spots — and for all of it

to happen much quicker.

Savoring the diversity of faces on the streets

during a typical weekday afternoon.

Fearing that in the move to improve

and change for the better, uniqueness

and distinctiveness will be left by the

wayside.

These are some of the joys and

pet peeves about being Downtown

that five interesting and intriguing

Downtowners — people who spend a

significant amount of their daily lives working,

living or both in the city center — shared during

these individual chats with J magazine. »

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 45


intriguing downtowners

46

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


Pilar Langthon

Downtown connection: Owner of the Mocha Misk’i Brownie Shop,

a fixture on North Laura Street for nearly four years.

In May, Langthon and her sister and business partner, Helga, moved

Mocha Misk’i out of Downtown to the Mandarin area so they can

largely focus on meeting the growing demands of the boutique/

specialty brownie shop’s booming online business.

v v v v v

What are the best things about Downtown — and about being in

Downtown on a daily basis?

Just the mix of people that you have in Downtown — so many

backgrounds, professions, interests. That makes it exciting to be

here.

What is the biggest misconception that people have about

Downtown?

People think Downtown isn’t safe — that’s just not true. It’s

a really safe place. I leave the shop lots of times late at night, and

there is no problem at all. It’s a safe place.

If you could change one thing about Downtown, what would it

be?

The city must do more about the homeless issue, the transients

Downtown; more has to be done to really change the situation in a

major way. There are plenty of places that help the homeless during

the nighttime, but there need to be more places during the daytime

— and during Saturdays and Sundays too. The bad part is there

are homeless people who have been Downtown for a long time; I

know them, and they are good people. But over the last year, there

seems to be more and more new homeless people coming into

Downtown, people I have never seen before. And they are not very

good people. I don’t know if they are transients who have come

from different places, but they aren’t nice — and some of them

cause problems on the street in front of the businesses Downtown.

The city must do more about this.

And if I can say one more thing, I think we need to do more to

get more activity down here as quickly as possible. It’s coming, but

it needs to be faster; the city needs to speed it up.

Helga and I have loved being Downtown all these years; being

here has really helped to give us exposure and expand our concept.

It has helped us become successful enough to move on to this

exciting new chapter for us. It is a great time for us, and it means

leaving Downtown. But I will always be a big supporter of Downtown.

Downtown will always be a special place to me. It will always

be special in my heart, too.

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 47


Paul Compagnon

The Downtown Connection: Bartender at The Volstead

and he lives in a loft above the popular bar.

v v v v v

What are the best things about Downtown — and about being in

Downtown on a daily basis?

The nightlife, and the fact that everything is within a pretty walkable

distance. I mean, let’s say you just saw a show at the Florida Theatre and

then you want to go to some cool place Downtown to eat or grab a drink.

You can do easily; it’s just a quick walk.

What is the biggest misconception that people have about Downtown?

That it’s crime-ridden and overrun with homeless people. There is a

slight problem as far as transients, but it’s nowhere near as major a problem

as people make it out to be.

If you could change one thing about Downtown, what would it be?

We need a grocery store, big time. And it would be great to have even

more dining options late at night. We’re still lacking that, and that’s what is

keeping us from not only being like big downtowns across the country, but

even ones in other Florida cities like Tampa and Orlando.

48

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


intriguing downtowners

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 49


Emiko Board

The Downtown Connection: Property manager

of The Carling and 11East apartment complexes

v v v v v

What are the best things about Downtown — and

about being in Downtown on a daily basis?

Just being in the middle of so much culture and

diversity. That’s what I love about being Downtown.

There is a real energy all throughout Downtown, and

the good thing is it’s only going to keep building and

building because of all the new development and

activity that’s going on. That’s really exciting. I love

that.

What is the biggest misconception that people

have about Downtown?

People think the traffic is bad Downtown and

that there’s a lot of congestion. But seriously, there’s

rarely ever a big issue with traffic Downtown. It’s not

overwhelming at all, but there are still a lot of people

who are afraid to come Downtown because they fear

there’s going to be a traffic issue. That’s definitely a

misconception.

If you could change one thing about Downtown,

what would it be?

I would really focus on the issue with transients

Downtown, because I do think that’s a problem that

could discourage some people from really being

involved in Downtown. Whether it’s a fair thing or

not, I think some people see the number of transients

we have Downtown and they immediately have a

negative perception — it scares them off from really

exploring Downtown.

50

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


intriguing downtowners

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 51


intriguing downtowners

52

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


Dimitri Demopoulos

The Downtown Connection: A resident of the Churchwell Lofts on Bay Street.

v v v v v

What are the best things about Downtown — and about being in Downtown

on a daily basis?

The best thing about living Downtown on a daily basis is the convenience

that comes with being at the center of almost everything. In my immediate

neighborhood, I can easily walk to the Times-Union Center for a night with the

Jacksonville Symphony or pop over to the Florida Theatre for a David Chapelle

concert.

I can take a stroll along the Riverwalk or wander over to Hemming Park for Art

Walk or just a pleasant al fresco lunch with some tunes.

Best of all, I can hop on my bike and wave to folks in their cars as I coast to

TIAA Bank Field in less than 10 minutes for a Jags game — no traffic and no parking

lot fees for this Downtown resident.

The same principle applies when I want to venture beyond the Urban Core:

The bars and restaurants of Springfield, Riverside, Avondale and San Marco are all

but a short ride away like points on a star.

And when I want to head to the beach, the airport, Amelia Island or St. Augustine,

I can access Interstate 95, the Arlington Expressway and the Hart Bridge all in

less than 5 minutes.

Truth be told, I’m a bit lazy, and living Downtown allows me to spend more

time having fun and enjoying all that Jacksonville has to offer rather than waiting

to have fun.

What is the biggest misconception that people have about Downtown?

The biggest misconception about Downtown is that it’s unsafe. Wrong! I’ve

lived Downtown for 10 years and I regularly attend my local Sheriff’s Watch

meetings. Both my personal experience and the JSO’s data confirm that the

Urban Core is one of the safest neighborhoods in Northeast Florida — thanks to

the hard work and commitment of the JSO’s officers and Downtown Vision Inc.’s

Downtown Ambassadors.

I often feel that people perceive Downtown as unsafe because it can appear so

quiet and empty during certain week nights, but that perception should quickly

change as more Downtown pioneers take the plunge and contribute to the daily

activity occurring in the Urban Core.

If you could change one thing about Downtown, what would it be?

Demopoulos: I’m afraid it would be what many people would say: the plight

of the homeless population concentrated in Downtown and the limited resources

available to assist this population. Hopefully some of the more recent efforts

being made by city officials, the JSO and various charities and nonprofits — like

the creation of the Urban Rest Stop at the Sulzbacher Center — will begin to bear

fruit and encourage many of the homeless to enter the system and access the help

they may need to leave the streets.

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 53


Allishia Bauman

Downtown connection: Chief of staff for City Year

Jacksonville, a Downtown nonprofit.

v v v v v

What are the best things about Downtown — and about being in Downtown

on a daily basis?

I love the strong nonprofit community Downtown. Being the chief of staff for

one of those nonprofits, I consider it an honor to be a part of that community.

There is nothing better than walking to and from your Downtown parking garage

and running into someone from the Jessie Ball duPont Center where many of our

favorite nonprofit partners call home.

I’m also a huge fan of the growing places where you can break bread with

the community. One of the top places would absolutely be Urban Grind. The

friendly faces, the delicious food and drink and the beautiful Urban Garden

make it a perfect spot to get away from a tense day. One of my recent favorite

things is running into “The Uniform Guy” grabbing a coffee and asking you,

“Has anyone done anything nice for you today?” If the answer is “no” — or

you’re caught off guard by the question — he delights you with the purchase

of a delicious Urban Grind muffin or cookie. Other notable gems on my list

include Olio, Chamblin’s Uptown, 20 West Cafe, Toss Green, Coastal Cookies

and my favorite happy hour spot: The Volstead!

What is the biggest misconception that people have about Downtown?

The biggest misconception would absolutely be that Downtown is

unsafe. I walk three to four blocks to and from my parking garage, and I

am never concerned about my safety. I have been here after hours and am

never concerned about what might be around the corner. With the growing

restaurants and shops, I can see the bustle of a city growing here in such

fun ways that makes you feel like you’re not alone. If you don’t frequent

Downtown, you won’t truly know about the charm I get to see, feel and

experience every day.

If you could change one thing about Downtown, what would it be?

I would change how our community thinks about the area. The

misconception about safety and assumption that there is nothing to

do prevents people from coming Downtown; both of them are unfair

assumptions. Also the way we regard historical landmarks is sad. Don’t get

me wrong; it’s incredibly exciting to see the work being done to preserve

the Barnett and Laura Street Trio buildings, but there are other times when

I wonder how much more we truly value the importance of preservation.

Admittedly there is a lot that I don’t know about building codes, safety and

other stuff. But it’s sad to see the current conversations about iconic buildings

like The Jacksonville Landing.

What if we did what we are doing with the Trio and refurbished more spaces

in creative ways that could draw our community together?

What if we committed to solidifying our identity by understanding our history,

learning from it and honoring what has made us great — much of which

is in and around Downtown. I feel proud that City Year gets to be in the oldest

building in Downtown Jacksonville, the Dyal-Upchurch Building, and I often

paint a picture of the stories these walls hold. Imagine how powerful it would

be if we would truly understand and uplift the stories that live in all of our

historic Downtown walls.

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J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


intriguing downtowners

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 55


CORE

EYESORE

‘MODERN DAY

CENTRAL PARK’

STILL A DREAM

220 RIVERSIDE AVE.

BY MIKE CLARK

“What were they thinking?”

That statement comes up often about

Downtown. It applies to Unity Plaza in Brooklyn,

which was designed to be iconic, boldly

inspired by Bryant Park in Manhattan and

Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland, Ore.

And now it’s one of Jacksonville’s iconic

failures. We don’t need any more eyesores

Downtown.

Unity Plaza contains just about all of Downtown’s

shortcomings in one small space at the

corner of Riverside Avenue and Forest Street.

There is inadequate parking.

There is hardly any shade with non-native

palm trees.

And all the concrete is more fitting for a

parking garage than a welcoming gathering

place.

Its retail businesses have gradually disappeared

so that its sales price was dropped

from $4.5 million to $3.5 million, reported the

Jacksonville Business Journal.

The plaza is separate from the residential

space at 220 Riverside, which has been a spectacular

success.

Compare Unity Plaza to its two inspirations.

Bryant Park has lush gardens, free activities

and world-class restaurants. It’s visited by more

PHOTO: BOB SELF

Spot a Downtown eyesore and want to know

why it’s there or when it will be improved?

Submit suggestions to: frankmdenton@gmail.com.

56

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 57


Renderings from 2014 show a bustling, well-lit area around the pond and retail

businesses filling 220 Riverside’s ground floor.

PRODUCED BY

FREE, SELF-GUIDED TOUR | 5-9 P.M.

Explore Downtown’s musuems and theatres, galleries

and shops, murals, restaurants and bars on the

first Wednesday of the month.

Jacksonville has a long history as one of the

leading commercial centers in Florida.

Holland & Knight is proud of the contributions our

lawyers have made in promoting the business and

community interests of Downtown Jacksonville.

www.hklaw.com

Jacksonville, FL | 904.353.2000

ILOVEARTWALK.COM

DOWNTOWN JACKSONVILLE ART WALK

Copyright © 2019 Holland & Knight LLP All Rights Reserved

than 12 million people annually. Photos show plenty of trees, shade

and grassy spaces despite all the traffic.

In the heart of downtown Portland, Pioneer Courthouse Square

hosts more than 300 events each year. It’s called “Portland’s living

room.”

When it opened in 2015, Unity Plaza was oversold as “a modern-day

Central Park” with a non-profit managing lots of activities.

Its Facebook page called it “A Life Enhancing Urban & Performance

Park.”

There were supposed to be daily activities — concerts, art shows, festivals,

free yoga and meditation sessions. Maybe even winter ice skating.

It was supposed to attract people from outside Brooklyn because the

activities would be exciting.

Developer Alex Coley told Times-Union reporter Matt Soergel that

he saw Unity Plaza as a gathering spot for “cultural creatives.”

Now? Nothing. While Brooklyn booms with activity, Unity Plaza is a

lonely mess.

If the new owners want to revive the space, they need to ditch the

palm trees, bring in native trees that provide shade, provide some

architecturally interesting shade forms, set up interesting activities and

develop better parking.

There could be something like Saturday’s Riverside Arts Market

for the other six days of the week. There could be services that still

are lacking Downtown such as a dry cleaner, a drug store and even a

mini-hardware store.

With the impending closing of the Jacksonville Landing, there will be

a need for some of the community activities that Unity Plaza originally

promised.

Hemming Park has the template for a reviving a successful Downtown

open space: Provide security, lots of shade, food trucks and plenty

of activities.

Unity Plaza could be successful, too.

All of the globetrotting involved in the Unity Plaza research was

unnecessary.

Jacksonville has a classic urban park less than one mile from Unity

Plaza.

Memorial Park in Riverside was designed by the Olmstead Brothers

of Central Park fame.

It has everything that Unity Plaza lacks: trees and shade along a

walking path, a grassy center for all kinds of community activities and a

classic piece of sculpture. The wonderful design has inspired the neighborhood

to advocate for the park.

In contrast, Unity Plaza looks like an overgrown retention pond.

Mike Clark has been a reporter and editor for The Florida Times-

Union and its predecessors since 1973 and editorial page editor since

2005. He lives in Nocatee.

Hallmark Partners

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POLISHING A

CROWN JEWEL

The new CEO of the Cummer Museum & Gardens

brings ‘youth and vibrance’ to the museum’s future

BY CHARLIE PATTON v PHOTO BY BOB SELF

60

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T

he man who is

now the Cummer

Museum of Art &

Gardens’ director

and CEO had never

heard of the Cummer

and had no interest in leaving the

highly regarded Toledo Museum of

Art when the Cummer’s recruiter first

contacted him in November 2017.

“At first I was not convinced it was

an opportunity that would interest

me,” Adam Levine, who in January

became the Cummer’s George W. and

Kathleen I. Gibbs Director and Chief

Executive Officer, said in a recent interview.

“I was fully engaged in Toledo

and wasn’t thinking about leaving. I

took the call because it was a recruiter

I didn’t know. It’s good to know

recruiters.”

The recruiter convinced Levine to

talk to Ryan Schwartz, the Cummer’s

immediate past board chairman who

was helping lead the search for a

director after Hope McMath’s resignation

in August 2017.

“Ryan and I had a conversation,

and I was impressed with the way they

were conducting the search,” Levine

said.

Still Levine resisted visiting Jacksonville.

“I told him I wasn’t a candidate, and

I’d feel terrible using their resources

to come down for a trip when I’m not

serious about the position,” he said.

Schwartz’s response was that, even

if Levine didn’t consider himself a

candidate, he should still visit.

So Levine came to Jacksonville in

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 61


January 2018. And he was impressed.

“Frankly it infected me,” he said. “The idea of

the Cummer and the opportunity to drive change

here was exciting.”

But Levine, who had become engaged to a

Toledo resident who was studying to be a dentist,

ultimately decided “the timing wasn’t right” and

withdrew as a candidate.

“However interesting, I had to pass,” he said.

Levine’s decision left the Cummer in a difficult

position. Finding candidates who had the qualities

they were looking for — a solid knowledge of

art history combined with business knowledge

and leadership skills — was proving frustrating,

Schwartz said.

“The Cummer was having a hard time with our

search,” Schwartz said.

Then in August 2018 the Cummer’s board invited

Levine to reconsider. He and his fiancée, Brooke

Brown, visited in September 2018, and he decided

he wanted the job. His hiring was announced by

the Cummer in mid-October.

Levine grew up in New York City, in the Riverdale

section of the Bronx. His love of museums

began young.

“I grew up going to art museums on rainy days,”

he said.

He attended the Horace Mann School, a college

preparatory school located in Riverdale, for high

school and spent three years studying art history.

As a senior he read Dan Brown’s novel “The

Da Vinci Code.” While he wasn’t impressed by the

book, he was intrigued by its discussion regarding

which gospels were included in the New Testament.

He spent his summer vacation reading

books about the Gnostic gospels by Princeton

scholar Elaine Pagels.

That fall, enrolled at Dartmouth College, he

began studying early Christian art and developed

an interest in artistic depictions of Christ

during the Roman Empire. He majored in

anthropology, art history and mathematics and

social sciences.

He then attended the University of Oxford’s

Corpus Christi College as a Rhodes Scholar, earning

a master degree and a doctorate in art history.

While a student at Oxford, he co-founded a

company, Art Research Technologies, and served

as its CEO until 2012. The company was designed

to price art effectively. Levine said he did a poor

job managing his company, but it was a valuable

experience.

“I made virtually every mistake someone in his

20s could make,” he said. “I think I’m better for it

having metabolized those failures … We managed

a positive exit out of it. It was a really important

lesson for me.”

Levine then went to work for the Metropolitan

Museum of Art in New York City as a

collections management assistant in the Greek

and Roman Art Department. In 2013 he was

hired by the Toledo Museum of Art, initially as

ADAM M.

LEVINE

George W. and Kathleen I.

Gibbs Director and Chief

Executive Officer of the

Cummer Museum of Art

& Gardens

Age: 32

Hometown:

Bronx, New York

Education:

Bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth

College in anthropology,

art history and mathematics

and social sciences; Master of

Studies and Doctor of Philosophy

degrees in the history of

art from Oxford University.

PREVIOUS Work

experience:

Deputy director and curator

of ancient art at the Toledo

Museum of Art, 2013-2018;

collections management assistant

in the Greek and Roman

Art Department at the Metropolitan

Museum of Art in New

York City 2011-2013; founder

and CEO of Art Research

Technologies, 2009-2012.

FAMILY:

Parents live in Bend, Ore.;

brother, a chef, lives in Brooklyn;

fiancée Brooke Brown

lives in Toledo, Ohio.

QUOTE:

“When I visited the Cummer

Museum, I was overwhelmed

by its potential. The seasoned

staff, the magnificent gardens,

the strong collection and the

supportive board all suggested

the museum could become a

truly special institution.”

an Andrew W. Mellon Fellow.

He subsequently was promoted to assistant

director, then associate director and finally deputy

director while also serving as curator of the museum’s

collection of ancient art. The Toledo Museum

of Art has a permanent collection of more than

20,000 works of art (the Cummer’s collection is

about 5,000 works of art).

v v v

Levine, like his predecessor McMath, is interested

in expanding and diversifying the Cummer’s

focus and its audience. In February he invited

Johnnetta Cole, a Jacksonville native who was president

of Spelman College and of Bennett College

and, from 2009-2017, was director of the Smithsonian

Institution’s National Museum of African Art,

to join him at the Cummer for a discussion of how

to make museum membership more diverse.

During the evening, Cole repeatedly referred to

Levine as her mentee.

“I mentor many young people, most of whom

are women and people of color,” said Cole, now

a resident of American Beach in Nassau County.

“However, I offered to be Adam’s mentor because

we share the same perspective about art museums


“Adam exhibits characteristics of an outstanding

leader. He has a collaborative style, he

is courageous in doing what he thinks is right, he

commands the subject matter of his field, he is

open to new and innovative ways of doing things,

and he inspires his colleagues.”

Cole’s enthusiasm about Levine is widely

shared.

“He’s a rising star in the museum world,” said

Ricardo “Rick” Morales III, the chair of the Cummer’s

board of trustees.

“He seemed to check all the boxes,” said Jim

Draper, an artist who teaches at the University

of North Florida and was part of the search

committee. “He was the perfect choice for the

Cummer. He understands the dynamics of the

way things work.”

“I think he’ll bring fresh energy,” said Crystal

Floyd, studio director of CoRK, a collection of artist

studios in North Riverside.

“He has youth and vibrance,” said James

Richardson, a Cummer trustee who was part of the

search committee. “I was impressed by his entrepreneurial

thinking.”

“His credentials are just top notch,” said Debra

Murphy, chair of UNF’s Department of Art and

Design. “He opens up a new era for the Cummer.”

“We were lucky he even bothered to come

here,” said Martha Baker, co-chair of the Cummer

search committee. “He has such a fresh view of

things.”

“I would say that he has a fresh approach on

what the art scene should be in Jacksonville,” said

artist Lana Shuttlesworth, who said Levine has

been visiting Jacksonville artists in their studios

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J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


and offering critiques of their works. “He’s very

intelligent, very articulate and very generous with

his time.”

“He’s a terrific new face to represent the Cummer,”

said Jacksonville historian Wayne Wood.

“I think they made a very good choice,” said

Preston Haskell, a long time leader in the Jacksonville

arts community. “He jumped into the job with

a good deal of energy and enthusiasm.”

Levine’s vision for the Cummer’s future focuses

on growing the museum’s audience, increasing its

endowment and its budget, showcasing its permanent

collection including the gardens and improving

programming.

“The Cummer is not all that well-known in the

community,” Levine said. “But the people who experience

it say it’s a gem. And it is. But it’s a gem that

needs some polish. … I think the institution can be

elevated a substantial amount, but I don’t know that

huge changes need to be made.”

Levine said that there were about 140,000 visits

to the Cummer last year, a number he wants to see

increased. One of the things he is doing to accomplish

that goal is seeking meetings with individuals

and organizations that can help drive attendance.

The Cummer’s operating budget for the current

fiscal year is $4.2 million. Levine said he would like

to see that budget increase in future years. One of

the ways to do that is to increase the Cummer’s endowment,

which funds 40 percent of the Cummer’s

annual operating budget. As of the end of the last

fiscal year the Cummer had an endowment of about

$33 million.

Levine said he found the Cummer’s permanent

collection to be “much better than I would have

anticipated,”

He cited “Home From the Harvest,” a painting by

William-Adolph Bouguereau, a 19th century French

artist; the Constance I and Ralph H. Warl Collection

of Early Meissen Porcelain and the Cummer

gardens as among the masterpieces in the Cummer

permanent collection.

“There are some lovely, lovely things,” he said.

“There are some really quite good things in storage

that haven’t been seen in a long time …

“The gardens are an extraordinary resource. We

need to start thinking of the gardens not as this thing

behind the museum but as an integral part of the

collection.”

As for exhibits, Levine said that while he isn’t

ready to announce the subjects, “we are almost

completely planned out through 2022. At least two

exhibits now being planned will be curated by the

Cummer, “and another two that we will be curating

are in the works.”

He said he wants to do more exhibits like recent

“Augusta Savage: Renaissance Woman,” an exhibit

originally planned by McMath.

Levine said he introduced himself to McMath

the first week he was on the job.

“The first words out of my mouth after I met

Hope were ‘thank you,’” he said. “I told her ‘I am

“We want

to create an

institution

that drives

civic pride

and civic

engagement

with the

highest

quality art.

There are lots

of institutions

that can

drive civic

pride. The

Jaguars are

an example.

But the way

we do it is

not through

football. The

way we do it

is with art,

specifically

the very

best art.”

ADAM M. LEVINE

CUMMER MUSEUM

& GARDENS CEO

inheriting a strong institution because of you.’…

Historically this has been a very well-managed

organization.”

He also has high praise for Holly Keris, the Cummer’s

chief curator, who served as chief operating

officer in the period between McMath’s exit from

the Cummer and Levine’s arrival.

“I am going to work with and mentor Holly to be

the absolute best chief curator she can be because I

know she can be a total star not just in Jacksonville

but in the museum community,” Levine said. “She’s

brilliant.”

Keris played a key role in the Cummer’s recent

purchase of “Magnetic Fields,” a large abstract

painting by Mildred Thompson, a 20th century

African-American artist born in Jacksonville. It is

the first addition to the permanent collection since

Levine arrived in Jacksonville.

v v v

Although the Cummer owns the land next to

the museum building, land that once was occupied

by the Women’s Club of Jacksonville, Levine said

there is no immediate plan to expand the Cummer’s

facilities.

“That doesn’t mean that down the road there

won’t be expansion opportunities,” he said. “It does

mean there is a manageable footprint within this

institution already. We need to begin by refreshing

the galleries, breathing life into the permanent

collection. We want to upgrade the quality of the

programming.

“We want to create an institution that drives civic

pride and civic engagement with the highest quality

art. There are lots of institutions that can drive civic

pride. The Jaguars are an example. But the way we

do it is not through football. The way we do it is with

art, specifically the very best art.”

Levine is living in a rented apartment in Atlantic

Beach. While he doesn’t particularly enjoy the daily

commute via Atlantic Boulevard from the beach to

Riverside, he said the smell of the ocean makes the

long drive acceptable. And as a native New Yorker,

Levine said he is used to commuting.

In his free time Levine enjoys running, reading

and watching sports. He’s a fan of the New York

Knicks, Giants and Mets. But it doesn’t sound as if

Levine has a lot of free time.

He is working to meet as many people as he

can and change the community perception of the

Cummer.

“People don’t know what’s here,” he said. “This

can be not just a gem but a crown jewel among

American museums. That’s certainly ambitious.

But I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think it was true.

“… Everyone in Jacksonville wants Jacksonville

to be a great city. Name one great city that doesn’t

have a great art museum.”

Charlie Patton retired in September after more than

41 years with The Florida Times-Union, spending his last

nine years covering the arts. He lives in Riverside.

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 63


THE

BROOKLYN

REVIVAL

HOW ONE DOWNTOWN

NEIGHBORHOOD keeps

BUILDING MOMENTUM

BY FRANK DENTON

ILLUSTRATION BY Trevato Group

64

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


Preliminary plans for a Brooklyn

food hall include a two-building

adaptive reuse development that

could contain five market anchors

and one retail anchor as well

as 16 market stalls.

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 65


ooklyn

Plans for a Brooklyn food hall in the 300 block of Park Street include indoor food stalls with communal seating, an outdoor beer garden and a dining courtyard.

SUDDENLY,

IN THE BLINK

OF AN EYE,

Brooklyn finally is becoming a community

again — a hip 21st century successor to the

historic 19th century neighborhood.

If the old Brooklyn were not essentially

long-gone, the new Brooklyn would represent

urban gentrification. Rather, it is more

like rediscovery of a neighborhood that is so

intimate with the urban core and is officially

the southwest sector of Downtown.

Drive along Riverside Avenue, and you

can see Brooklyn coming to life. Turn west,

between the new construction and the Fresh

Market, and you quickly come face to face

with the new staring down the old.

Pause at 328 Chelsea St., all boarded up

and ramshackle with the house number

crudely spray-painted on the front, and

you’ll see the final, sad artifact of the community

that was settled after the Civil War by

black Union veterans and freed slaves.

One block east is planned what could be the

21st century anchor of the new community:

a food hall. Unsure what that is? Read on

about a new lifestyle for the new Downtown.

Brooklyn’S history

If you’re not a Jacksonville native, you

are forgiven for not knowing that Brooklyn

is historic, because it’s been rundown, razed

and ignored since desegregation beginning

in the 1960s.

The area was first settled in the late 1700s,

Trevato Group

66

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


JEFF DAVIS

as Jacksonville was taking shape, according

to Wayne Wood’s book, “Jacksonville’s

Architectural Heritage.” It served as a corn

and cotton plantation until it was put up for

sale in 1858.

This newspaper ad promoted the appeal

of Brooklyn that endures today: “This tract of

land is valuable not only for planting purposes

but, owing to its immediate vicinity to the

flourishing and growing Town of Jacksonville,

is well adapted for private residences

— its position being on the River — the Bluff

high and commanding an extensive view

of the River St. Johns. That portion adjacent

to the Town of Jacksonville and lying on

McCoy’s Creek will at once find ready purchasers

at good prices, if lots are laid out and

offered for sale.”

During the Civil War, the area served

as the encampment for black and white

Union troops for the fourth occupation of

Jacksonville, and a garrison stayed after the

war to help restore order. Beginning in 1868,

it was named “Brooklyn,” subdivided and

developed. Black Union veterans stayed or

returned and were joined by former slaves,

creating a black community. Wood’s book

says an 1885 map shows numerous two- and

three-room wooden cottages. Apparently,

328 Chelsea is the only one remaining and,

obvious by its condition, is listed by the

Jacksonville Historical Society as one of our

“most endangered buildings.”

For a century, Brooklyn remained a

“vibrant” black community, said Ennis Davis,

an urban planner, student of local history

and co-founder of Moderncities.com and

TheJaxson.org, websites about urbanism and

culture. “If you were black, no matter how

much money you had, you had to live in a

black neighborhood.”

Desegregation beginning in the 1960s

allowed black people to live anywhere they

could afford, and Brooklyn — deteriorating

because of lack of infrastructure investment,

Davis said — withered rapidly, down to perhaps

40 residents in the 2010 census.

What has happened in the past eight

years could be an example of urban gentrification,

but Brooklyn was so down and

out, it’s more like a rebirth, akin to a trend

identified by The New York Times of “predominantly

minority neighborhoods near

downtowns growing whiter, while suburban

neighborhoods that were once largely white

are experiencing an increased share of black,

Hispanic and Asian-American residents …

(A)s revived downtowns attract wealthier

residents closer to the center city, recent

white home buyers are arriving in these

neighborhoods with incomes that are on

average twice as high as that of their existing

TRACKING BROOKLYN’S TRANSFORMATION

ELM ST.

PRICE ST.

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

N

JACKSON ST.

FOREST ST.

PARK ST.

CHELSEA ST.

11 3

13

12

8

9

220 Riverside

A six-story, 294-unit apartment complex

opened in 2015

Brooklyn Station

A shopping center anchored by The Fresh

Market opened in 2014

Brooklyn Riverside

A five-story, 310-unit apartment complex

Vista Brooklyn

A 10-story, 308-unit apartment complex,

with retail, under construction

Lofts at Brooklyn

A 133-unit apartment complex to be

under construction this summer

Brooklyn Place

A proposed 12,500-square-foot dining

and shopping center

Winston Family YMCA

New facility opened in 2016 to replace

the Yates Family YMCA

neighbors, and two-thirds higher than that of

existing homeowners.”

“In the places where white households

are moving, reinvestment is possible mainly

because of the disinvestment that came

before it. Many of these neighborhoods were

once segregated by law and redlined by

banks. The federal government built highways

that isolated them and housing projects

that were concentrated in them.”

The Brooklyn version of that trend is

that the newcomers are “wealthier” only in

relation to traditional residents, and they are

apartment renters rather than homeowners.

But Brooklyn is quickly transforming into

5

1

4

2

7

McCoys Creek

MAGNOLIA ST.

6

RIVERSIDE AVE.

Northbank Riverwalk

8

9

10

11

12

13

10

St. Johns River

WATER ST.

ACOSTA BRIDGE

Residence Inn

A six-story, 135-room hotel planned to

open next summer

Brooklyn Park

Small but with a basketball court and

baseball field

Old Times-Union Building

Now empty, as owners plan

redevelopment

328 Chelsea

Last home from the community

settled after the Civil War by black Union

veterans and freed slaves. “One of our

most endangered buildings.”

331 and 339 Park

Empty commercial buildings envisioned

for adaptive reuse as a food hall

260 Park

Commercial building owned by the

developers of the possible food hall

a neighborhood that is younger and more

affluent — and into a real community.

a new Brooklyn

The renaissance began only five years

ago when The Fresh Market bravely opened

its doors as the anchor for Brooklyn Station

shopping center at 150 Riverside. Downtown

cynics and naysayers speculated on how long

it would last.

Then the next year, NAI Hallmark Partners

opened 220 Riverside, the six-story,

294-unit apartment complex a block south.

The units quickly filled, but the restaurants

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 67


LEFT: When the

Brooklyn Station

shopping center

at 150 Riverside

Ave. was opened

in 2014, developers

commissioned murals

honoring the history

of the area.

RIGHT: The owners

of the former Florida

Times-Union buildings

at 1 Riverside Ave.

reportedly are

considering proposals

for redevelopment of

the site and possibly

opening access to

McCoys Creek.

LEFT: Under

construction between

220 Riverside and

Brooklyn Station is

Vista Brooklyn, a

10-story, 308-unit

apartment building

with a rooftop pool,

beer garden, dog park

and ground-floor

retail.

RIGHT: Just two

blocks from the

bulk of the ongoing

development in

Brooklyn, boarded

up and abandoned

homes fill the

blighted Downtown

neighborhood.

on the first floor flopped, and the ballyhooed

Unity Plaza, built with some public money

and intending to be the “central park” of

Jacksonville, fizzled.

Despite that misstep, 220 Riverside was

the catalyst for more. The Daily Record quoted

developer and property manager Alex

Sifakis as saying other developers should

thank Hallmark for its courage: “220 Riverside

is the reason anything in Downtown

Jacksonville is getting developed right now.

It gave the comps (comparable values) for all

the projects getting done today.”

It certainly sparked Brooklyn. An Atlanta

developer came in and built The Brooklyn

Riverside, a sprawling five-story, 310-unit

apartment complex directly behind Brooklyn

Station.

Now under construction, immediately

between 220 Riverside and Brooklyn Station,

is Vista Brooklyn, a 10-story, 308-unit

apartment building with a rooftop pool, beer

garden, dog park, parking deck and groundfloor

retail.

And Vestcor, the developer that built or is

building three “lofts” apartment complexes

in adjacent LaVilla, announced it will build

the 133-unit Lofts at Brooklyn as workforce

and affordable housing on an entire block

between Chelsea and Spruce streets and

Jackson and Stonewall streets. Construction

is to start this summer.

Add them up, and that will be more than

1,000 new apartment units built in Brooklyn

since 2015.

THE PEOPLE ARE THERE

As the planners keep saying about other

sectors of Downtown, more residents will

bring more retail, more food and drink and

other amenities that are the adhesive to a

true community.

That’s there too, or coming.

On the northeast side of Brooklyn Station,

where you now see the “jug handle” street

loop that allowed big trucks to get into the

former Times-Union building, the city is

planning to swap that 1.5 acres to a developer

to build a 12,500-square-foot retail and

dining and shopping center called Brooklyn

Place with about a half-dozen “national,

regional and experienced local operators.”

A Jacksonville Business Journal source says

they may include Chipotle and Panera Bread.

On the opposite, southwest side of Brooklyn

Station, Vista Brooklyn, under construction,

plans to offer 14,000 square feet of retail

space on the ground floor.

Add those two developments to Brooklyn

JEFF DAVIS (4)

68

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


Station, and Riverside Avenue will offer three

consecutive blocks of retail and restaurants.

Directly across the street is the new

Winston Family YMCA, which exceeded its

seven-year membership goal in two years

and now is planning an expansion. It’s

probably already the most complete and

up-to-date fitness and wellness facility in

Northeast Florida.

Just west of 220 Riverside is planned a

six-story, 135-room Residence Inn at the

corner of Magnolia and Forest. Construction

is to begin soon, with the opening next

summer. Hotel guests will be itinerant traffic

but also feet on the street and customers for

the growing eateries and stores.

In a city of parks, you’d expect a community

to have one, and this one does. The aptly

named Brooklyn Park is small and obscure

but offers a basketball court and baseball

field — directly across the street from the

planned Lofts at Brooklyn. Residents probably

will have it mostly to themselves.

Need more?

In March, the City Council approved

Groundwork Jacksonville’s plan to restore

and develop the long-envisioned Emerald

Necklace, almost 20 miles of new trails to

connect with the S-Line urban greenway,

McCoys Creek, Hogans Creek and the riverwalks.

The “model project” of 1.3 miles to be

completed next year will connect the S-Line

to the intersection of Park and Stonewall

streets — in Brooklyn, behind The Brooklyn

Riverside.

A big unknown is the future of the former

Times-Union buildings across Riverside from

Brooklyn Station. The newspaper’s former

owners retained ownership of the buildings

and reportedly are considering proposals

for redevelopment, ideally opening up

McCoys Creek, which runs to the St. Johns

underneath the walkway connecting the two

buildings.

There are other potential projects under

the radar. Last June, the Daily Record reported

that 13 networked local companies have

been buying up vacant and rundown properties

in Brooklyn, suggesting that developers

are just waiting for critical mass. Only one

idea has surfaced: turning the abandoned

Mt. Calvary Baptist Church into a brewery

and restaurant.

Now, if you look at the map of Brooklyn,

you have to believe that all this development

in a relatively small area of two dozen city

blocks promises some intense synergy.

Perhaps the final component, the catalyst,

could be a natural indoor gathering place,

maybe a city block or so from the fizzled

LEFT: Surrounded

by razor-wire topped

fences, a variety of

abandoned businesses

and warehouses

line three blocks

of Park Street in

Jacksonville’s Brooklyn

neighborhood.

RIGHT: Formerly

home to The Trophy

Center, this abandoned

building at 339 Park

St. was built in 1945

and is part of a plan

to turn the area into

the 33,000-square-foot

Brooklyn food hall,

with a variety of dining

and retail tenants.

LEFT: The boarded up

house at 328 Chelsea

St. is believed to be the

lone survivor of the

community built during

and after the Civil War

by black Union soldiers

and former slaves.

JEFF DAVIS (4)

RIGHT: Though little

progress has been

made, plans to convert

the abandoned Mt.

Calvary Baptist Church

at 301 Spruce St. into

a brewery and an

adjoining 5,000-squarefoot

restaurant were

announced in 2017.

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 69


\\\\\ T R E N D I N G /////

F O O D

H A L L S

A modern food hall is a permanent market building that features a mix of food-inspired retail (everything

from cooking supplies to cookbook stores), artisanal food vendors (upscale chocolatiers, premium cheeses,

bakers, butchers, etc.) and a mix of restaurateurs serving authentically prepared foods (anything from

street foods to chef-driven concepts, typically with an emphasis on “farm-to-fork” fresh ingredients).

Millennial Eating

Patterns Favor

Food Halls

40+60+v

55+45+v

44+56+v

40% of millennials will

order something different

every time they visit the

same restaurant.

55% of millennials prefer

communal tables when

dining out.

44% of the food dollars

spent by millennials are

spent on eating out.

FOOD HALL GROWTH IN THE UNITED STATES

Food Halls

300

250

200

150

100

50

0

Food halls are popping up around the

U.S. at a breakneck pace. By 2020, an

estimated 300 will have opened, nearly

tripling the marketplace size since 2017.

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020

n Existing n Projected

THE BEST NEW FOOD HALLS IN THE U.S.

As food halls continue to be one of the biggest culinary trends in the country, an estimated 180 are now open across

the U.S. Earlier this year, USA Today conducted a poll to find the best new food halls which have opened in the past year.

1. KEG AND CASE

WEST 7TH MARKET

St. Paul

Located at the Schmidt Brewery,

Keg and Case combines chef-driven

restaurants with craft beer and a

curated market of regional goods,

including more than two dozen

vendors serving everything from

coffee and sweets to smoked meats

and Jamaican chicken.

2. MORGAN STREET

FOOD HALL & MARKET

Raleigh, N.C.

Diners at Morgan Street Food Hall

will find no shortage of options.

More than a dozen vendors

prepare classics like pizza, burgers,

tacos and ice cream, as well as

unique offerings like sushi burritos

and dishes from India, Lebanon,

Vietnam and Argentina.

3. LEGACY FOOD HALL

Plano, Texas

Located just outside of Dallas,

Legacy Hall is part food village,

part beer garden and part live

entertainment venue. It features

two dozen concepts by local chefs,

including naan wraps, popsicles,

barbecue and Peruvian chicken.

Plus, a pair of cocktail bars, a natural

wine bar and a craft brewery.

4. FINN HALL

Houston

Located in the historic JPMorgan

Chase & Co. building in the heart

of downtown Houston, the new

Finn Hall features 20,000 square

feet of space for 10 chef-driven

food concepts, as well as a craft

beer and wine bar and an Art

Deco cocktail lounge.

Sources: U.S. Department of Agriculture food expenditure data; Restaurant Marketing Labs; Cushman & Wakefield, Food Halls of North America 2018 report

JEFF DAVIS

70

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


Unity Plaza, the outdoor gathering place that

has not been given up for dead.

authenticity & food

Trevato Development Group’s concept

of a Brooklyn food hall apparently has been

in development since the Jacksonville firm

bought 301 and 339 Park St., two large old

commercial buildings, in 2016 and progressed

to the design stage a year later. It was

all sub rosa until the plan emerged recently

at a meeting of the International Council of

Shopping Centers.

A spokesperson said that, when renovated

into adaptive reuse, the two buildings,

with a total of 33,000 square feet, will

become “a multi-tenant space focusing on

artisanal foods and products: dining and

retail (and) anchor restaurants, small purveyors

of artisanal foods and products.” That

is, a food hall.

The spokesperson cited as an example

Krog Street Market in Atlanta (krogstreetmarket.com).

TheJaxson.org said the shopping-center

meeting was told the plan is to convert the

buildings “into a sprawling complex with full

service anchor restaurants, indoor food stalls

with communal seating, an outdoor beer

garden/dining courtyard and a flex space for

temporary vendors.”

WHAT IS A FOOD HALL?

Don’t confuse food hall with food court.

The latter is familiar at suburban malls as

the collection of chain fast-food stores,

usually in the middle of the mall, catering to

busy shoppers. In and out fast with cheap

food that is consistent about anywhere in

the country. Combo with fries?

A food hall differs in that it is local,

unique and authentic.

Uptown Urban Market in Dallas defines

itself: “Essentially, a food hall is a clustering

of ‘the best of class’ from local chefs and

restaurateurs in smaller food stalls in more

open spaces … Limited menu offerings,

cutting edge trends, diversity in flavors and

items that are easy to grab on the run, eat

quickly in a community seating environment,

or take back to your apartment,

home or condo. Typically, these food halls

are found in high density urban areas with

strong residential demographics offering

meals, beverages, or bites for all times of the

day, accentuating high quality food at much

lower prices than traditional restaurants

are able to provide in a setting designed for

today’s lifestyle.”

Food halls achieve localness and

uniqueness because of their economics.

The barriers to entry have prevented many

would-be restaurateurs from opening their

brick-and-mortar start-ups — rent, maintenance,

utilities, trash and grease removal,

pest control, etc.

A few years ago, they found they could

overcome much of that with food trucks,

which are self-contained and can move to

the customers.

In a food hall, restaurateurs and other

food retailers can concentrate on their

products and just pay the landlord to handle

the logistics. The collective nature makes it

all much more affordable.

Ennis Davis said it’s the food outgrowth

of the “sharing” economy, best known for

Airbnb, Uber, Lyft and bikeshares.

Food halls have sprung in major cities up

all over the country, and as with food trucks,

Jacksonville is a laggard into the trend.

Barry Sorkin, co-owner of Smoque BBQ

in a Chicago food hall, told Forbes magazine

that food halls need to be very strategic

about where they locate: “Not every location

is right for a food hall, and developers

should be careful. Most people won’t travel

30 or 40 minutes to go to a food hall. The

traffic is what the traffic is. So you have to

be located somewhere with enough traffic

to support however many restaurants are in

the hall.”

THE MILLENNIAL LINK

All those apartments in Brooklyn, as

well as in adjacent Riverside and LaVilla,

are filled with millennials, ages 20 to 40,

most identified with the sharing economy

as well as the future of Downtown.

Last fall’s millennial issue of J suggested

six attributes of millennials, four of which

are consistent with food halls. One is their

inside/outside lifestyle, meaning they

engage in activities outside their homes

that older generations would have done

at home, such as eating and socializing in

common areas, like food halls.

A second attribute is healthiness,

particularly eating right and well. Notice

how many millennials post pictures of

their food on social media before they eat

it? They don’t bother with chain fast food.

Note the food hall emphasis on artisanal

foods.

A third characteristic of millennials is

an aversion to constant reliance on the

automobile. Urban millennials want more

transportation options, like public transit,

bikeshares or walking. Imagine living in

220 or The Brooklyn Riverside and being

able to walk a block or two to a variety of

dining choices in a social, collective setting.

Finally, millennials value authenticity,

a sense of place, as opposed to the

sameness of malls and chain restaurants.

The buildings Trevato proposes to adapt

and reuse are a former Studebaker-Packard

auto dealership built in 1924 and the

former Trophy Center built in 1945. A 2017

site plan showed they could be connected

across or around a lot separating them to

accommodate six anchors plus 16 market

stalls. Trevato also bought 260 Park St.,

cattycorner to the other two buildings, for

possible retail and office space.

WHEN WILL IT OPEN?

No time soon. Trevato has yet even to

make a formal announcement and has submitted

no plans to the city for approval.

“Trevato will begin moving forward with

all necessary reviews and approvals once

the road diet project is underway as that

project (at least from Price to Jackson on

Park) will run right alongside the planned

food hall buildings,” said a spokeswoman.

An important part of Downtown’s master

plan is “road diets” in several places, to

redesign streets configured for maximum

automobile traffic flow into more attractive

streets that narrow traffic and accommodate

walking and bicycling. For a road

diet under construction, see Riverplace

Boulevard on the Southbank, being redesigned

from five lanes to three, with more

landscaping.

In Brooklyn, Park Street is four lanes

without the traffic to justify that, and a

Downtown Investment Authority study recommended

a road diet to make Brooklyn

more friendly for walking and biking.

The city budget includes $2.2 million to

humanize Park Street by reducing to two

lanes of auto traffic and making room for a

two-way bicycle track, street parking, bigger

sidewalks and trees. The project is now

being designed, and construction should

begin in early 2020.

The redesigned Park Street will extend

from Forest Street to the Lee Street viaduct

— providing a multimodal connection

between LaVilla and the new Regional

Transportation Center (and the Skyway) on

the north to Five Points and Riverside on

the south.

And suddenly downtrodden old

Brooklyn becomes a hot link to the new

Downtown.

Frank Denton, retired editor of

The Florida Times-Union, is editor of J.

He lives in Riverside.

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 71


REIMAGINING A

VIBRANT LAVILLA

BY MIKE CLARK

T

he secret to reviving Downtown is to focus on its

strengths, not lingering on all of its weaknesses.

This goes double for LaVilla, razed by an unfortunate

urban renewal program in the 1990s but left with major

strengths that can be used for redevelopment.

A draft redevelopment report by Rummell-Munz consultants

imagines what a revived LaVilla can look like.

But it doesn’t take much imagination to identify

LaVilla’s strengths.

As one of the speakers noted at a public

hearing on the report, “LaVilla’s destruction

left a vacuum between the past and present

and contributed to creating a disconnected

core city, making the overall Downtown

experience less dynamic and arguably less

authentic.”

LAVILLA DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY

72

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


So it’s time to repair that disconnect. Flip

it around, rebuild LaVilla, make a connection

with its past as a cornerstone. A rediscovered

authenticity would be a key to its success.

LaVilla has so many strengths.

The first asset is the fact that much of the

property in LaVilla is owned by the government

so that the first step of redevelopment,

land acquisition, is much simpler. Rather

than cobble together purchases from multiple

landowners, the city can simply deal with

city agencies like the Jacksonville Transportation

Authority.

Speaking of the JTA, the construction of its

Regional Transportation Center means that

LaVilla already has an anchor for redevelopment,

an agency that is gaining attention

nationally and worldwide as technology leads

to driverless vehicles.

The second asset involves the Emerald

Trail proposal of Groundwork Jacksonville

that will encircle greater Downtown and

nearby neighborhoods with trails that invite

walking and bicycling. The first mile of the

trail, 1.3 miles to be exact, will be a model that

will run through LaVilla.

It will pass near a number of historic sites:

n The A. Philip Randolph waiting room at

the former Union Station, now Prime Osborn

Convention Center.

n Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing Park, the

former site of the home of James Weldon and

John Rosamond Johnson, authors of the iconic

hymn. It is now just a vacant city block with

markers, but it deserves to be fully developed.

n The relocated Brewster Hospital, which

once cared for African-Americans, now

houses the North Florida Land Trust, which

includes a room devoted to nurses that can

offer insights into medical care in the past.

A proposal to redevelop LaVilla includes everything

from piano playing to pop-up spoken word

performances at the Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing Park.

n The Clara White Mission contains

mementoes and a history of Jacksonville’s

influential African-American leader, Eartha

M.M. White.

n Old Stanton High School is one of the

few classic structures left standing in LaVilla,

saved from the urban renewal wrecking ball

thanks to its historic importance. Now, finally,

a new use needs to be found that includes a

celebration of its importance to Jacksonville.

n The Ritz Theatre & Museum, which

contains a treasure of African-American

artifacts and regular exhibits as well as an

audio-animatronic display of James Weldon

Johnson. The Ritz has gained both national

and international attraction though exchang-

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 73


es with the National African-American Museum

and South Africa. This cultural appreciation

would extend throughout LaVilla.

n Darnell-Cookman Middle/High School

of the Medical Arts, which in its early incarnation

as the Cookman Institute

included A. Philip Randolph

as the 1907 valedictorian. The

Emerald Trail’s model mile extends

to the current S Line trail

behind UF Health Jacksonville.

The third great asset involves

LaVilla’s proud history. Its sense

of place is ready to be utilized

as an authentic feature of any

redevelopment plan. As Mick

Cornett, the former mayor of

Oklahoma City, wrote, every

city has a story to tell. LaVilla

once was a city, incorporated

in 1866 with 1,100 residents, 70

percent of them African-Americans.

As James Weldon Johnson

wrote in his autobiography

“Along the Way,” long after

Reconstruction, Jacksonville

was known as a good town for

African-Americans, with blacks

occupying important civic positions.

That changed, sadly, with

the rise of Jim Crow policies.

Johnson, by the way, held

various jobs at The Florida

Times-Union, including as assistant

to Editor Charles Jones.

Nevertheless, many cities

have celebrated neighborhoods

far less than LaVilla’s, yet Jacksonville

until now has failed to

promote its history as part of its

civic story. That has contributed

to an identity crisis.

But the story of LaVilla is

so much more. There were the

black former Union soldiers

who were stationed in Jacksonville

and settled here. There

are Chinese settlers who set up

businesses there. And a Cuban

community. And there were

racy elements including a red

light district and the story of

author Stephen Crane and his

paramour Cora Crane. Tours of

James

P. Small

Park

PARK ST.

KINGS ROAD

Florida C.

Dwight

Memorial

Playground

N

95

Brooklyn

Park

RIVERSIDE AVE.

LEE ST.

DAVIS ST.

ACOSTA

BRIDGE

8TH ST.

Darnell-Cookman Middle/

High School of the Medical Arts

Relocated Brewster Hospital

Regional

Transportation

Center

LaVilla with professional storytellers, multimedia

productions for smart phones and

other devices can capitalize on the wonderful

history.

The Rummell-Munz report gets practical

as well. The big driver for any development

involves people living there, not passing

through as commuters. The draft report

notes that living units have sprung up for

low-income residents, supported by governmental

incentives like tax credits, while

on the high end there are residences for

high-income people.

HISTORY VITAL TO LAVILLA’S FUTURE

95

JEFFERSON ST.

Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing Park

McCoys Creek

A. Philip Randolph

waiting room

BROAD ST.

WATER ST.

Hogans Creek

The Ritz Theatre & Museum

Genovar’s Hall

Clara White Mission

Klutho Park

STATE ST.

UNION ST.

BEAVER ST.

Old Stanton

High School

ADAMS ST.

FORSYTH ST.

BAY ST.

St. Johns

River

A way needs to be found to add housing

for what the draft report calls “the missing

middle.” This could mean townhomes. But

some sort of incentives will be needed to

start, perhaps marking down land prices

with a “land trust.” Other residential opportunities

could involve ground-floor retail

with residences on upper floors.

With more residents with money to

spend, more retail will come to serve them.

The Rummell-Munz report doesn’t envision

a major revival of retail, though developments

in nearby Brooklyn are encouraging.

What Downtown’s six

Florida

State

College

Hemming

Park

MAIN ST.

BRIDGE

identifiable neighborhoods

need — Brooklyn, LaVilla, the

Cathedral District, the Central

Business District, the Stadium

District and the Southbank —

are ways to easily connect them

that doesn’t involve parking,

something like a Downtown

trolley.

The Ultimate Urban Circulator

being proposed for Bay

Street would use the Skyway

and driverless vehicles at grade

to make a connection. Someday

they might be traveling throughout

Downtown.

New research finds that

young adults are moving away

from driving. These Downtown

neighborhoods can be among

the first in the nation to use

an innovative mass transit

network.

Turning LaVilla into a

walkable neighborhood also

means narrowing the roads,

called “a road diet.” Currently,

most of the streets in LaVilla

are designed for pass-through

traffic. If a four-lane street has

under 20,000 cars per day, then

it’s a candidate for a diet.

Beaver Street, for instance,

has about 10,000 cars per day.

On Water Street in front of the

Federal Reserve, there is capacity

for 35,000 cars per day, but

just 3,500 cars per day use it.

Another sign of neighborhood

traffic involves fewer

two-way streets. Adams Street

offers an opportunity for a kind

of Main Street area and not

as an extended ramp to the

interstates.

The Rummell-Munz report

sees some office opportunities

there, though the huge Duval

County Courthouse did not spur much

nearby office development.

Mike Field, a two-time citizen member

of the Times-Union’s Editorial Board,

suggests the creation of streetscapes that

are unique to LaVilla. He also suggests

development that gives non-white entrepreneurs

a chance to open new businesses,

JEFF DAVIS

74

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


GROUNDWORK JACKSONVILLE

A proposal to construct a “road diet” on Park Street

as part of the Emerald Trail would create a pedestrian

walkway on the viaduct over McCoys Creek.

thus avoiding the pitfalls of gentrification.

He sees more retail opportunities than the

report.

Brooklyn Station is leased up, and there

are other businesses planned there. In short,

Field says Brooklyn is healthy, so there is no

reason that LaVilla can’t do the same.

Speaking of links, waterways are never

far from anything Downtown. LaVilla would

need links to both a revitalized McCoys

Creek — funding is already committed for

it — and the St. Johns River.

Once devastated by urban renewal,

LaVilla is poised to make a comeback in

grand style.

Mike Clark has been a reporter and editor

for The Florida Times-Union and its predecessors

since 1973 and editorial page editor since 2005.

He lives in Nocatee.

Excellence in motion.

yesterday

Dames Point Bridge

today

Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center at LaVilla

tomorrow

Ultimate Urban Circulator

autonomous vehicle

jtafla.com


TINY HOUSE VILLAGE

WILL BENEFIT VETS

After Eco Relics built the nation’s first LEED-certified tiny house in 2017,

it inspired an idea to create a neighborhood of similar homes for veterans

I

t all began with a door, a wooden one, but

it could become a door to new lives for

some Jacksonville veterans and the historic

LaVilla neighborhood. The idea is still in its

infancy, but to see how the seed has been

planted and is taking root is a lesson in how

BY LILLA ROSS

Downtown development happens.

Michelle Paul, who lives in Marsh Landing, was looking

for a pantry door for her kitchen remodeling project.

She wanted something unusual, so she went to Eco

Relics in Riverside, which sells salvaged and architectural

building supplies.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

76

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


Not only did Paul find something unusual,

she found something unique — the

doors to the old Brewster Hospital, a hospital

for African-Americans founded in

1901. Paul was involved in its restoration

and new life as the home of the North

Florida Land Trust. One of the hospital’s

founders was Eartha White, who also

founded the Clara White Mission, named

for her mother. Paul is a member of the

board.

Paul was interested in buying the

doors and sought out Eco Relics owner

Anna Murphy to negotiate a price. The

women talked; they bonded over veterans.

“I was telling her about Clara White,

and Anna asked me if we did anything for

vets,” said Paul, who quickly filled her in.

Veterans have always been part of

Clara White Mission, founded in 1904 as

Navy veteran Henry Owens lives in a tiny house

village as part of the Veterans Community Project

in Kansas City. The village gives homeless

veterans a place to live.

a soup kitchen. Vets have been both client

and volunteer, and in World War II, they

were residents, living on the upper floors

of the three-story building. They’ve also

been students at the mission’s vocational

training programs and regulars at the

Drop-in Center.

In 2017, the mission dedicated the

Henri Landwirth Beaver Street Veterans

Villas. The $3.8 million project, funded

with government grants, turned the

three-story, century-old building into

transitional housing for veterans.

Sixteen furnished apartments are on

the top two floors, above a VA service center

on the first floor. Supportive services

include mental health and substance

abuse counseling, case management,

medical services, job training, financial

counseling and educational services.

Murphy was impressed. She invited

Paul to step out back and see her vision

for veterans — a tiny house.

M

urphy and her husband,

Michael, have a

passion for sustainable

living. The motto of Eco

Relics is “reuse, recycle,

repurpose,” and within its walls you can

find everything from nuts and bolts to

one-of-a-kind antiques like the doors to

Brewster Hospital.

But, for Murphy, “reuse, recycle, repurpose”

isn’t just about the building materials.

It’s about people, too.

Murphy wants to build affordable,

sustainable housing for veterans who

need to “reuse, recycle, repurpose” their

lives. She thinks it can be done with tiny

houses, defined as a structure less than 400

square feet that can either be on wheels or

a foundation.

Tiny houses are not only affordable,

they can be ideal living space for veterans

with PTSD, who are often more comfortable

in a confined area.

The Murphys built a tiny house, 198

square feet, on wheels in 2017 using

reclaimed building materials and following

the city building code. The house, built in

consultation with the U.S. Green Building

Council, attained the platinum rating for

Leadership in Energy and Environmental

Design (LEED).

“It is the first and greenest registered

tiny house in the world,” Murphy said.

Her dream is to build a village of

solar-powered tiny houses. They would be

built for veterans by veterans. They would

be about 240 square feet, enough for a bedroom,

a tiny kitchen and bathroom with a

small heating and cooling unit.

They might not be the only tiny houses

on Ashley Street. Over in the Cathedral

District, JWB Real Estate Capital wants to

build 18 studio apartments using shipping

containers, each about 320 square feet.

Murphy knew she had a great idea but

didn’t know how to make it happen. “I was

desperate to find someone with connections,”

Murphy said.

And then, she met a woman who wanted

to buy a door.

A

fter seeing Murphy’s

tiny house, Paul shared

the idea with the Clara

White Mission board and

Ju’Coby Pittman, mission

CEO and president and Jacksonville City

Council member.

During Pittman’s 25 years at Clara

White, the mission has grown from a soup

kitchen into a community development

center with vocational training, job placement

and housing.

Its culinary arts school, which has 25

students, trains people for the restaurant

industry. Each Friday, students prepare

and serve lunch at Clara’s at the Cathedral,

a longtime partnership with St. John’s

Cathedral. The mission also has a special

events hall in Riverside, with catering by

the students available.

Some of its food is grown at its White

Harvest Farms on Moncrief Road that recently

received a $1.5 million city grant to

develop a farmers market for the area that

is a food desert.

Twenty students are enrolled in classes

in the janitorial/construction cleanup,

electrical and environmental safety and

agriculture safety programs taught through

the National Center for Construction

Education and Research. With funding

from CITI Foundation, the mission also

is developing a pilot janitorial training

program for at-risk young people and their

parents.

And Clara White continues to feed

people — 500 a day.

With the success of the Veterans Villas,

Pittman said the tiny house community

seems like a good next step to give veterans

in transitional housing an opportunity

to own a home, albeit a tiny one.

Pittman said the mission’s board had

talked about building tiny houses a few

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 77


“We researched [tiny houses]. It has to make financial sense ...

We know there is a gap in affordable housing for veterans.”

Ju’Coby Pittman

Clara White Misson CEO

Consultant Jenni Edwards worked on the entrance to a tiny house built in 2017

by Eco Relics. The 198-square-foot house was the first LEED-certified tiny

house in the nation.

Ju’Coby Pittman, CEO and president of the Clara White Mission, stands in a

doorway of the historically designated Genovar’s Hall, which would be renovated

into a community center with a café, gym, classrooms and meeting space.

years ago but didn’t pursue it.

“We researched it. It has to make financial

sense for the mission. We know there

is a gap in affordable housing for veterans.

And we want to be on the same page with

Downtown,” Pittman said.

This time, the board decided to team up

with Eco Relics and pursue the project.

“When their board approved it,

with the mission’s longstanding history

in Jacksonville, I knew we had a good

chance of getting it built,” Murphy said. “I

can build tiny houses, but the mission has

veterans housing on Beaver Street, they

have VA connections and HUD connections.

And they have land, and that was

the magic word.”

C

lara White has land, a city

block bordered by Ashley,

Jefferson, Church and

Broad streets in LaVilla. But

they don’t have zoning. Tiny

houses are not in the zoning code, or the

building code either.

Paul said they would seek zoning for a

Planned Unit Development (PUD) for the

1.46 acres occupied by a parking lot, owned

by the mission, and Genovar’s Hall and

three wooden houses, owned by the city.

Variances to the building code would be

required.

The plan is to build 15 to 18 houses on

foundations. Each house would be 240

square feet, and equipped with a mini-split

heating and cooling unit and solar panels.

Murphy wants the community to be LEED

certified with a micro solar grid. Murphy

estimates a house would cost between

$65,000 and $75,000, using recycled building

materials.

Murphy said she has contacted Operation

Tiny Homes, a nonprofit in Austin,

Texas, that has built the premiere community

in the country.

[L-R] WILL DICKEY; BOB SELF

78

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


“It’s going to beautiful and eclectic. Each one will have its

own personality. The City Council will not be able to say no.”

ANNA MURPHY

Eco Relics owner

JEFF DAVIS

“Operation Tiny

Home will help us build

the first one, and teach

us as we go,” Murphy

said. “And the U.S. Green

Building Council has a

‘green veteran’ arm so

they would teach them

how to build green.”

The tiny houses would

be built on the parking

LaVilla

School of

lot, and the proposal

the Arts

also calls for renovating

Genovar’s Hall into a

community center that

could have a café, gym,

classrooms and meeting

space.

Originally a grocery

store, it was built in 1895

by Sebastian Genovar. In

the 1920s it became the

Wynn Hotel and Lenape

Tavern, a popular jazz

club that attracted entertainers

like Louis Armstrong,

Dizzie Gillespie

and Billie Holiday and

where Ray Charles got his

start. The hotel closed in the 1980s.

The two-story Genovar’s Hall is now a

brick shell, a candidate for demolition if it

were not for its historic designation. Several

proposals have been made to restore the

8,000-square-foot building but nothing has

ever happened. It will be a daunting and

expensive project.

Although a budget is still being developed,

Pittman estimates that the tiny house

project could cost between $2 million to $3

million. They plan to apply for state grants

available to restore historical structures,

find sponsors and do community fundraising.

Next to Genovar’s facing Jefferson Street

are three wooden shotgun houses, built between

1903 and 1912 on Lee Street. Badly

deteriorated, they are considered historically

significant because they survived the

Great Fire of 1901 and are the last examples

of shotgun-style architecture, once a staple

of LaVilla.

“They are in really bad shape,” Murphy

said. “Genovar’s is one thing. At least it’s

A TINY HOUSE VILLAGE FOR LAVILLA

Three wooden

shotgun houses

Genovar’s Hall

JEFFERSON ST.

Operation Tiny HomeS

A village of tiny houses for homeless vets

• 15 to 18 houses on foundations

• 240 square feet each

• Equipped with a mini-split heating

and cooling unit and solar panels

• Built with recycled materials

• Each house would cost between

$65,000 and $75,000

Clara White Mission

BROAD ST.

Old Stanton

High School

Duval County

Courthouse

brick and has some structure. The row

houses, it’s going to take a lot to get them

usable. I wouldn’t walk on the floors.”

For the past eight months,

while Clara White and Eco

Relics have been talking about

tiny houses, the Downtown

Investment Authority and

Jacksonville Transportation

Authority were working on a development

plan for LaVilla, which was released in

April.

The goal of the LaVilla Neighborhood

Development Strategy is to restore LaVilla

as a residential neighborhood with a strong

cultural component honoring its rich African-American

history. The plan includes a

Heritage Trail and a park named Lift Ev’ry

Voice and Sing, the hymn written by brothers

John Rosamond and James Weldon

Johnson. The district already is known for

the Ritz Theatre and Museum and LaVilla

School of the Arts.

Clara White Mission would have a place

BEAVER ST.

ASHLEY ST.

CHURCH ST.

DUVAL ST.

N

on the Heritage Trail. It’s

not only a community

development center, on

the second floor Eartha

White’s bedroom and

other artifacts from the

early days are preserved

in a museum.

Pittman, who grew up

in Jacksonville, remembers

when “Ashley Street

was the place to be,” and

she thinks it can be again.

“A tiny house community

would be a great

asset,” Pittman said.

They are working on

a budget and renderings

for a presentation to the

city. When they present

to the council, Murphy

said they will bring along

their tiny house to show

the members first-hand

how much living can be

done in a tiny house.

Murphy hopes the city

will support the project.

“It’s going to beautiful

and eclectic,” Murphy said. “Each one will

have its own personality. The City Council

will not be able to say no. It’s definitely a

better use of the property. Right now it’s a

parking lot with four abandoned buildings.”

The city needs to take a serious look at

the proposal. It fits nicely with the city’s

new strategic plan for the district. It’s a

creative way to help veterans become

homeowners in a supportive community.

The renovation of Genovar’s Hall

and the houses will preserve part of the

historic legacy of LaVilla. And Clara White

Mission has proved itself as a steadfast

provider of services to the community for

115 years.

Furthermore, a community of

LEED-certified solar-powered tiny

houses built from recycled materials

will put Jacksonville on the map as an

environmental leader.

Lilla Ross is a freelance writer.

She lives in San Marco.

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 79


The Downtown Urban Rest Stop on the campus of the Sulzbacher Center provides the homeless with a safe place to relax, get a shower, wash clothes and get a meal.

‘REST STOP’

SERVING THE

DOWNTOWN

HOMELESS

I

BY

80

n an interview with the Times-Union Editorial Board

several weeks before the Urban Rest Stop complex opened

in February inside the campus of the Sulzbacher Center —

Northeast Florida’s largest service provider for the homeless

— Sulzbacher CEO Cindy Funkhouser laid out the two

main early goals for the new daytime resource center for

Jacksonville’s transient population.

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019

ROGER BROWN

The goals were simultaneously simple

yet bold:

• To provide a “nice, welcoming

place’’ for the area’s homeless

citizens during the daytime hours

— a departure from aimlessly

spending the afternoon hours in

marginalized droves on gray concrete-slab

benches in the grungy,

congested Main Street Park across

from the Downtown Library.

• To represent a “win for the

people who are on Jacksonville’s

streets.”

Those were the two primary goals in

Funkhouser’s eyes.

But in reality, here was another goal —

if one that was largely whispered, if spoken

aloud at all: Most people in Jacksonville

hoped the Urban Rest Stop would begin

reducing the visual and social effects

of having large numbers of transients,

including a notable segment of aggressive

panhandlers, on the city’s Downtown

BOB SELF


Main Street Park became a gathering place for the

homeless after efforts were put in place to get them

to leave Hemming Park a block away.

BOB SELF

streets during the daytime hours.

And have those goals have been

achieved in the four-plus months since the

Urban Rest Stop opened its doors?

By all objective standards, the answer

appears to be “yes.”

“It has been working very smoothly and

efficiently from our perspective,” Funkhouser

says now regarding the Urban Rest

Stop.

“We’re still early in the process, but

the results have been very exciting and

promising.”

During the month of April, these were

some of the Urban Rest Stop’s activity

statistics as compiled by the Mental Health

Resource Center, which has 16 staffers providing

counseling and other daily services

in the daytime facility:

• An average of 75 people visited the

facility each day (it’s open from 7:30 a.m. to

6 p.m. Monday to Friday).

• More than 1,000 services were provided

to clients.

• A total of 454 people used the Urban

Rest Stop’s shower facilities.

• An average of six people per day used

the rest stop’s laundry facilities to wash and

dry their clothes.

• Nearly 40 people went through the

Urban Rest Stop’s mental health screening

process, which is offered to visitors on a

strictly voluntary basis.

And that was just one month’s worth

of positive impact by a daytime resource

created out of vacated space in Sulzbacher

when the nonprofit moved its female and

family residents to the new Sulzbacher

Village.

Among other services, the Urban Rest

Stop offers:

• Access to laundry and shower facilities.

• Access to warm meals during the

daytime hours.

• Access to mental health counseling.

• Access to the Sulzbacher’s extensive

and highly regarded medical services.

• Access to job-training and job-placement

possibilities (enhanced by the Urban

Rest Stop’s partnership with Goodwill Industries,

which has a “Job Junction” office

on site).

• Access to applying for housing or signing

up for other needs like food stamps, bus

passes and mail service.

• Access to computers, books and an

open social room with features like a giant

chessboard and a big-screen television.

• A sense of empowerment and dignity

for those who come through its doors.

And it is that last attribute — that final

quality — that particularly strikes a chord

with Daniel Dopson, who says he has practically

been a daily visitor to the Urban Rest

Stop since its opening.

“It’s been great to have this — it’s a really

good place to come to,” Dopson says as he

sits in the Urban Rest Stop’s social room.

“I’ve been able to get showers here, do my

laundry here, get glasses here,” Dopson

adds. “It’s helping me get back on my feet,

and that means a lot.”

And that, says Mental Health Resource

Center Vice President Debbie O’Neal, is

exactly the reason for the Urban Rest Stop’s

very existence.

“It’s proving to be a great resource for

not only providing people with services

they can take advantage of today, but also

educating them on how they can start to

access the services that can help them have

better, more stable futures,” O’Neal said.

The Mental Health Resource Center is

staffing the daytime resource center as part

of a collaboration with the Sulzbacher Center,

the City of Jacksonville, the Jacksonville

Sheriff’s Office and many other partners

committed to making sure the Urban Rest

Stop plays a successful and sustainable

role in helping local homeless residents on

the path to eventually transition from the

streets to stability.

And hopefully the Urban Rest Stop will

represent the most successful and sustainable

attempt by our city to provide Jacksonville’s

homeless population with a daytime

resource that truly makes a difference for

the homeless.

No, the Urban Rest

Stop is not the first

effort to take the city’s

transient population off

the streets during the

daytime hours by having

a fixed alternative Downtown location that

could offer the homeless both productive

resources and a more receptive atmosphere

— neither of which is in ample supply when

they’re outside on benches, sidewalks and

stoops, largely invisible to or ignored by the

multitude of other Downtowners who walk

by them day after day.

In the early 2000s, the Emergency Services

and Homeless Coalition pushed for the

city to establish a daytime resource center

for the Jacksonville’s homeless population.

In its 2004 report “A Blueprint for the Future:

Ending Homelessness in Jacksonville,”

the coalition included this recommendation

among several strategies to address the city’s

homeless issue: “Establish one or more

drop-in centers with day time hours, including

weekends, providing showers, restrooms,

phones, seating, assessment and referral.”

But in reality, the recommendation got

little traction in Jacksonville’s city government.

Years later ICARE, an influential nonprofit,

powerfully took up the baton to advocate

for a daytime resource center for the

area homeless, making it one of its perennial

topics in its annual list of issues that it said

demanded immediate and real action from

Jacksonville’s powerful decision makers.

ICARE’s vocal, passionate efforts played

a huge role in pushing former Mayor

Alvin Brown to open the Jacksonville Day

Resource Center at the City Rescue Mission

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 81


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“[It] is going to come down to having more affordable

housing that offers the homeless the stable housing

they need to help build paths out of homelessness.”

Cindy Funkhouser

Sulzbacher Center CEO

on State Street in July 2013. The center,

however, was largely propped up by funding

provided through a pilot program; it lacked

the steady stream of significant dollars that

could truly support a daytime center over

the long haul and ultimately couldn’t live up

to its early hype.

It was no surprise, then, that after Mayor

Lenny Curry took office in 2015, the Day Resource

Center was closed a few months later.

Curry went on to form a major task force

on homelessness in 2017, as well as appoint

Dawn Lockhart, the highly respected longtime

former CEO of the Family Foundations,

to work directly with the nonprofit community

as his administration’s director of

strategic partnerships.

Those two moves — along with the

active involvement of current City Council

President Aaron Bowman — were key in

setting the groundwork for the city to agree

to provide the Sulzbacher Center with

$120,000 to refurbish vacated space into

the Urban Rest Stop and partner with the

Mental Health Resource Center to deliver

counseling and other support services.

In addition, partners ranging from the

JSO (which assigns an off-duty officer as a

security presence) to CSX (which donated

office cubicles for the Mental Health Resource

Center staff) were brought in to further

bolster the Urban Rest Stop’s resources.

Bowman, who says he became passionate

about the issue of homelessness

as someone who has spent years working

Downtown every day as a JAX Chamber

executive, credits the Curry administration

for showing the commitment to devote the

adequate funding and support needed to

give a homeless daytime resource center

a realistic chance to succeed and sustain

itself.

“Over the years, we just hadn’t done

enough to really address the issue of homelessness,”

Bowman says.

“But the Urban Rest Stop has been

working extremely well. It has the potential

to help a lot of those who are homeless,

and to me, it really shows that we’re doing

everything we can to support them.”

Of course, the

Urban Rest Stop’s

much-needed arrival

doesn’t mean challenges

don’t remain.

Now that the city

has temporarily closed the Main Street

Park — a shabby, unsightly area that had

nonetheless become a daily gathering

place for many transients after nearby

Hemming Park changed its policies to

discourage vagrancy — the demands on

the Urban Rest Stop will likely grow to

meet the growing number of people who

will turn to it.

And Funkhouser is the first to say that a

daytime resource center for the homeless

— even one as well conceived and effective

as the Urban Rest Stop clearly seems to

be — will never be a panacea for ending

homelessness in Jacksonville.

“The answer for that is going to come

down to having more affordable housing

that offers the homeless the stable housing

they need to help build paths out of homelessness,”

Funkhouser says.

“You can’t stuff 10 pounds of sugar into

a five-pound bag and expect the bag to

withstand that forever,” she says. “It’s the

same philosophy with homelessness: We

can’t keep feeding more and more people

into shelters and other services as the only

answer — we need to have a steady flow of

people coming out on the other end and

into stable housing.”

And that task will remain a complex

one, because providing housing for homeless

citizens who mainly have economic

barriers is a different challenge from securing

it for those who face substance abuse or

mental health issues — also a substantial

part of the transient problem.

But it is beyond debate that the Urban

Rest Stop clearly represents a promising

step forward — while also providing people

like Daniel Dopson encouragement that

they can move forward.

“I’m grateful,” Dopson says, “that it’s

here.”

Roger Brown is a Times-Union editorial

writer and member of the editorial board.

He lives Downtown.

BOB SELF

Signs point the way to the recently opened Urban

Rest Stop on the Sulzbacher Center campus at 611

E. Adams St,

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 83


Reporting the truth for more than 150 years.

#truthmatters


Day Break

Continued from page 19

works from the MOCA Permanent Collection,

“Invisible Cities: Paintings by Nathan Lewis”

in the UNF Gallery, and “Micro-Macro,” an

exhibition of works by Andrew Sendor and Ali

Banisadr. The fifth floor displayed works by

children who attend MOCA Art Camp during

the summer, winter and spring breaks in

classrooms surrounding that gallery. The fifth

floor also houses

GIVING BACK

My daughter and I started our

recent Downtown excursion

with a Hogans Creek cleanup

organized by Groundwork

Jacksonville. We met the group

behind Maxwell House, next

to the old Casket Factory,

now owned by the Jacksonville

Historical Society. We scoured

the banks of the creek for

plastic containers, beer bottles,

soda cans, and much more for

about two hours. Groundwork

Jacksonville meets every third

Saturday to clean a different

section of the St. Johns River

tributary. Learn more about

volunteering by visiting

Groundwork Jacksonville’s

Facebook page (facebook.

com/groundworkjax).

— DENISE M. REAGAN

the ArtExplorium

Loft, a hands-on,

interactive area for

families in serious

need of an update.

Outside, Hemming

Park was a

ghost town, except

for a family whose

boys played in the

Kids Zone. We

glimpsed a young

couple dressed for

prom posing for

photographs in the

park and in front

of MOCA Jacksonville.

However, the

following Saturday

we attended Jax

Poetry Fest, which

was packed full of fans of spoken word with

performances by Ebony Payne-English, Love

Reigns, Matthew Cuban Hernandez, Kia Flow,

and Al Letson. Throughout the year, the Skyway

is available whenever Hemming Park is holding

a Saturday event.

Hemming Park (hemmingpark.org) has also

launched several regular events, such as walking

tours of various Downtown locations at 11:30

a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, a Tuesday Market

with Berry Good Farms (berrygoodfarms.org)

and 3 p.m. Sunday yoga in the park.

We continued our Downtown visit at Sweet

Pete’s Candy which has transformed a bit. It

has shared the historic building across from City

Hall and Hemming Park with MLG, an upscale

restaurant owned by Marcus Lemonis which

recently closed. Lemonis also owns the building

itself, historically the Seminole Club, and has

put it on the market. But Sweet Pete’s continues

with apparel and souvenirs on the first floor; a

second floor stuffed with candy, chocolate, and

ice cream; and a third-floor circus-themed toy

store. More people were in Sweet Pete’s than in

the rest of Downtown.

We ended our trek with a short walking tour

8 DAYTIME

IDEAS TO

IMPROVE

Downtown

» Florida species

attraction: An aquarium

or bird sanctuary that specializes

in native Florida species would

differentiate it from other

attractions and provide the

needed audience, both residents

and visitors, to support it.

» 1901 Fire: Imagine a virtual

reality experience based on the

1901 fire that destroyed most of

Jacksonville that educates while

it entertains.

» Historic LaVilla: Build

recreations of the home of

James Weldon Johnson and John

Rosamond Johnson and other

important buildings from that

era in the style of Michigan’s

Greenfield Village (bit.ly/

GreenfieldVillage), a collection of

historic buildings that recreate

the sights, sounds, and sensations

of America’s formation.

» Performance bus

tours: The streets of

Jacksonville become the stage

for comedic improvisation

performers who create historical

reenactments of Jacksonville

history with an attitude, all

aboard a moving theater, inspired

by New York City’s The Ride (bit.

ly/NYCTheRide).

» Movie theater: Design

a movie theater that combines

historic features with new

technology and plush amenities

to create a one-of-a-kind

attraction.

» Bowling alley:

Combine a retro bowling alley

atmosphere with high-tech

scoring and a kitchen that serves

new twists on classic fair.

» Escape room: Take

advantage of this intriguing new

pastime by incorporating historic

architecture into the game.

» Refreshing retreats:

Downtown needs coffee, ice

cream, popsicles, and other

shops that will draw families.

Combine the treats with arcades,

art, or other activities.

— DENISE M. REAGAN

of public art. The Cultural Council of Greater

Jacksonville and the Downtown Investment

Authority collaborated on the Urban Arts

Project along the Hogan Street area, where

you can find 17 painted Skyway columns and

several sculptural pieces. Dozens of murals

dot Downtown. Some are individual projects,

such as Shaun Thurston’s work on Chamblin’s

Uptown, the side of the 5 & Dime building, and

behind Burrito Gallery. Some are the result

of Art Republic, which invited artists to create

murals on buildings throughout Downtown in

2016-18. You can download and print a map to

take with you (bit.ly/ArtRepublicMap).

Although we couldn’t fit it all in one day,

you’ll find several other family-friendly activities

in the Downtown core.

The Museum of Science and History (themosh.org)

features three levels of interactive

exhibits, a nature center of Northeast Florida

native animals, and a planetarium. In March,

MOSH announced an ambitious plan to increase

the museum’s total space from 77,000 to 120,000

square feet, expand exhibitions and programming,

reorient its public entry toward the St. Johns

River, and add new and emerging technology.

Outside of MOSH is Friendship Park with

a refreshing fountain overlooking the river.

As you stroll down the Southbank Riverwalk

underneath the Main Street Bridge, you’ll find

“Mirrored River,” a gleaming mosaic mural that

reflects the water and sunlight.

A short walk over the Main Street Bridge

takes you to the Northbank Riverwalk, which

stretches to the Riverside Arts Market. Along

the way, you’ll find a new outdoor gym called

the Corkscrew, with a climbing sculpture and

several fitness stations. Or you can catch the St.

Johns River Taxi (jaxrivertaxi.com) at one of

five stops along the river.

Catch a Sunday matinee at The 5 & Dime, A

Theatre Company (the5anddime.org) or at the

Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts

(timesunioncenter.com). Check to see if the

show is appropriate for children. The Florida

Theatre occasionally books performances for

kids, such as “Peppa Pig Live” (Oct. 1) and “The

Very Hungry Caterpillar Show” (Dec. 8).

That’s about the extent of Downtown Jacksonville’s

family entertainment offerings. Is it

enough for an emerging metropolis trying to

attract current residents, newly arrived families,

and tourists?

Jacksonville has much more to offer, but it

will only work if the greater metropolitan area

supports it. And that is the nut Downtown

needs to crack.

Denise M. Reagan is senior manager of culture

and engagement at Brunet-García Advertising, a former

editor at The Florida Times-Union, and longtime

Downtown enthusiast. She lives in Arlington.

86

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


Good Evening

Continued from page 21

of the Bank of America building on Bay

and Laura Streets is a bit cramped but has

all anyone needs to get in a good workout.

It’s being remodeled and refitted with new

equipment this summer.

Anytime Fitness is just that — a 24-hour

gym. It’s spacious with free weights, weight

machines and several cardio options from

treadmills to rowing machines. It’s located

above Bellwether restaurant on the corner of

Forsyth and Laura Streets.

An advantage of joining a gym is that

after a sticky summer’s day, a refreshing

shower awaits members who want to

change clothes and get into a relaxed state

of mind. During lunch, refresh with a quick

shower that puts the afternoon in a new

perspective.

The Landing

and Hemming

There was a time when finding a meal

Downtown would have been next to

impossible short of a sub sandwich. These

days, there are many more options and

price points. Some even have pre-show

menus targeted to allow for a bite before an

event without being rushed.

City leadership seems intent on demolishing

the Jacksonville Landing without

knowing — or having public support for

— what should replace it, hopefully not

merely a passive park. While the Landing

is overdue for a total makeover, the facility

did provide riverfront dining. A food hall

concept, complete with a mix of chain and

locally owned quality restaurants, entertainment

options and some space dedicated

to children and teens, would seem like a

better idea.

Unless that Downtown space is programmed

like Hemming Park, passive

parks attract transients. The Main Street

Park between Duval and Monroe Streets,

across from the back of the Main Library,

has served as a crystal ball foretelling the

future of the Landing space if it is not commercially

developed.

Hemming Park is the home of the successful

Art Walk, held the first Wednesday

of each month. It features art, music and

crafts throughout the park that spills out

onto neighboring streets. Most days, there

are other events in the park. The calendar

on the Friends of Hemming Park website

is worth bookmarking and checking when

looking for some after-work activities.

Serious business

There are more creative ways to spend

a few after-work hours. The Jacksonville

City Council meets on the second and

fourth Tuesdays of the month beginning at

5 p.m. There’s no need to be there for the

beginning, as the first 45 minutes or so are

spent recognizing deserving citizens who

are making important contributions to Duval

County. But once council members get

started on the agenda, it is both informative

and somewhat entertaining to watch

how laws are made and tax money is spent.

The middle of the meeting is devoted

to public comment. Here, citizens have

three minutes to voice their concerns, no

matter the topic. It’s a good way to engage

with what is happening in other parts of

the county. (City Council takes the first two

weeks of July off as its summer holiday.

Council meetings resume on July 23.)

After staring at a computer screen most

of the day, enjoying art and literature may

be in order. The Cummer Museum of Art

and Gardens is free and open until 9 p.m.

every Tuesday. During Artwalk, MOCA,

the Museum of Contemporary Art across

from Hemming Park, is open until 9 p.m.

Next door, the Main Library is open until

7 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays . Across

the river, the Museum of Science and History

is open until 8 p.m. Fridays.

Gustatory endeavors

These days we are all conscious of the

responsibility that comes with the consumption

of alcohol. However, responsible

drinking need not lead to a DUI. Happy

hour remains an after-work choice for those

who can keep their wits about them. There’s

no need to gulp shooters or bucket-sized

cocktails. A leisurely beer, glass of wine or

an after-work cocktail will allow you to unwind

and let the traffic disperse until you’re

ready to leave Downtown.

Conscientious and careful sorts may

want to plan ahead for your happy hour.

Take public transportation to work (there’s

a new adventure for many), and call a taxi

or ride-sharing service for the ride home.

The Elbow, the entertainment district

on Bay, Ocean and Forsyth streets, offers

several after-work options. Along Bay

Street, there’s The Element restaurant and

bar, Justice Pub, Bold City Brewery and

Bay Street Bar & Grill. Along Ocean Street,

there’s 1904 Music Bar and Spiff’s and the

Island Girl Cigar Bar.

Island Girl is a beautiful example of

incorporating existing structures and embracing

old Jacksonville. It features a huge

exposed brick wall behind the bar, with several

leather chairs (and televisions). Its high

ceiling and ventilation system leave not a

trace of smoke in the air. Island Girl serves

beer, wine and wine cocktails. Later this

summer it will open a private club upstairs:

Membership in The Swisher Suite will offer

discounts on beverages as well as bulk cigar

purchases.

Around the corner on Forsyth, Dos

Gatos will mark its 10th anniversary in

October. It was one of the first upscale

lounges Downtown. Specializing in craft

cocktails, it too has exposed brick behind

the bar. Located directly across from the

Florida Theatre, Dos Gatos is a before- and

after-show gathering spot.

“I’d like to think we brought a more cosmopolitan

vibe,” said J. Albertelli, owner of

Dos Gatos. “Over the last 10 years the food

and beverage business in Downtown is very

different. It feels like this is a good time to

be investing more into Downtown.”

On Adams Street, what looks like an old

time post office is actually the false front of

the speakeasy The Volstead. It’s named after

Congressman Andrew Volstead, whose

Volstead Act started Prohibition. It’s a dark

space with silent motion pictures projected

on the wall. It also specializes in craft cocktails

with an impressive wall of spirits on the

back of the square bar. Don’t be surprised

to see Jacksonville movers and shakers as

well as City Hall staffers unwinding here.

Toward the Sports Complex, Intuition

Ale Works not only serves its own craft

brews but also has a fun bar and food

menu. Its covered rooftop area provides a

space to be outside that is shaded from the

summer heat.

And for the family

Downtown is restaurant- and bar-centric.

There’s not much in the way of family

activity. It’s unfortunate that the proposed

“family entertainment center” at the

Berkman II fell through. It may not serve as

a tourist destination, but a Downtown play

area in that space has some potential.

One family-oriented venue is also an affordable

night out. The Jumbo Shrimp AA

baseball team is in full swing. A homestand

is not to be missed. With tickets starting

at $5 and traditional concessions like hot

dogs costing $2, a family of four can enjoy

a baseball game for around $50, said Ken

Babby, team owner.

There is plenty going on at the games

besides baseball. If the youngsters don’t

want to sit, they can play in the Wolfson

Children’s Hospital Fun Zone. On Sundays,

the kids can run the bases after the

game. Post-game fireworks will be featured

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 87


Night Moves

at a third of the games. Special promotions Chad Johnson, senior vice president of

theme every home game.

sales and service and chief content officer

“In our business, we like to say you

for Daily’s Place and the stadium, said

88 J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019

had so much fun you’ll leave and not even

know the score,” Babby said.

Downtown’s primary venues work in a

cooperative spirit. While a few events may be

Continued from page 23

The major venues

going on the same night, the same sort of act on Ocean Street, you’ll find two of the

isn’t performing at the Florida Theatre and indispensable components of the city’s

Time was that Jacksonville was a oneshow

town. If a musical act was at the

Florida Theatre, the VyStar Veterans Memorial

Arena would be quiet, or vice versa.

Today, it’s common that a show could be

at the Florida Theatre, a Broadway play or

symphony at the Times-Union Center and

major headliners could be performing at

the arena or at

Daily’s Place, when avoidable.

Also, because Duval is a consolidated

city-county, the city isn’t competing with

other municipalities in the area, other than

the Beaches and the St. Augustine Amphitheatre.

“Jacksonville comes together unlike

many other markets. In Jacksonville, we can

make your big

after-hours scene, 1904 Music Hall and

Spliff’s Gastropub. The Music Hall is the

hub for independent music Downtown,

a place to see rising stars and veteran

icons of the business in a fairly intimate

setting. The bands you may see at 1904 this

weekend may be at the Florida Theatre a

couple years from now. The club shares

a back patio space with Spliff’s, which

Daily’s Place.

events take over serves some of the very best food in town,

Besides being

Planning

the entire city,” well into the night. Next door to that is the

home to the

AN EVENING Johnson said. Island Girl Cigar Bar, a more upscale,

Jaguars, TIAA

The success two story nightspot that puts the emphasis

Downtown

Bank Field will

of the Lynyrd on fancy cigars. (Appropriately, it’s right

» The best way to check out

host the Rolling

Skynyrd farewell next to space that was, for many years, a

the options is Downtown

Stones later this

Vision’s calendar: bit.ly/2JloiUa concert, which tobacco shop.)

year.

included Kid

Most of the after-hours spots Downtown

The growth

in stage performances is noteworthy, said

Kevin Stone, vice president of programming

at the Florida Theatre. Five years ago, there

were 40 shows at the theater, and this year

there may be as many as 115.

“We are not just booking shows to fill a

date,” he said. “We are trying to find 110 to

115 pieces of product that mean something

to the community. We try spreading it

around to suit everyone.”

That means that with a capacity of

around 1,900, depending on the type of

show, the Florida Theatre is the right size

for up-and-coming acts as well as former

hitmakers playing to longtime fans. Niche

acts also have a place at the Florida Theatre.

“We win some and lose some,” Stone

said of the diversity of acts. “But if we don’t

lose some, that means we aren’t trying.”

Those open to experimental and

thought-provoking stage performances

should check out The 5 & Dime Theater

Company at 112 East Adams St. The theater

holds 85 people, and tickets go for $20-$30.

Beginning June 14, the musical Falsettos

debuts, and in August, Silence! The Musical,

a parody of Silence of the Lambs, will be

performed.

The newest venue is Daily’s Place. The

amphitheater, part of the stadium, seats

between 5,500 and 6,000. The facility is

Rock and Jason

Aldean, paved the way for the Rolling

Stones concert, Johnson said, adding that

the Rolling Stones producers reached out

to Jacksonville to play host to the stadium

concert. That was unheard of in the past.

SMG has been responsible for booking

most shows in the city, as it operates

the Times-Union Center for the Performing

Arts, VyStar Memorial Arena, the

Baseball Grounds and the Ritz Theatre.

Keeping these facilities active with a variety

of events is a driver for the city, said

Bill McConnell, general manager of SMG.

“The more activity we have in our venues

spurs activity in Downtown in general,”

he said.

One area of downtown that is of concern

is in the LaVilla area. New residential

space there and in Brooklyn may answer

the question of the chicken and the egg.

It has been reported that a food hall,

with several restaurants as well as a beer

garden, is being planned for the 300 block

of Park Street in Brooklyn.

Hopefully the city can work with new

developers to revamp the failed Unity

Plaza in Brooklyn. The programming set

for that open space never materialized.

McConnell also would like the intimate

Ritz Theatre to become more active in the

coming years.

boast expansive liquor bars. Bold

City does not, but that was never the point

for a company that made craft beer an

actual thing in Jacksonville. The flagship

brewery (on Rosselle Street in Riverside)

was supplemented with a second location

on Bay Street that stays open kinda late on

weekends.

The Elbow ends with Bay Street Bar

and Grill, which serves food past midnight

and has a full bar as well.

Technically, the strip ends at the corner

with Liberty Street, right before the police

station. This block has the highest concentration

of nightlife activity Downtown on

most weekends, and certainly during the

week.

If you like dance music, there’s Myth

Nightclub and Element Bistro. Justice

Pub carries a massive array of craft beer, and

their live music roster (with its emphasis

on hip hop) is probably the strongest in the

area, other than 1904, of course.

If you’re feeling sporty, you can walk a

few blocks further, past the police station

and the Maxwell House building, toward the

Stadium District, which is poised to become

the next big thing in Downtown development.

Manifest Distillery and Intuition Ale

Works basically share a block. The former

has a variety of locally distilled spirits (start

built so that the farthest seat is only 135

with the gin). The latter has excellent food

feet from the front of the stage. The facility Dan Macdonald was a music and

(produced in-house by the Black Sheep

was constructed to allow for the use of entertainment writer for the Florida Times-Union crew, which also runs Bellwether, a fine

stadium concessions as well as restroom

facilities. It also has its own concourse for a

variety of concessions and drinks.

and Jacksonville Journal in 1984-1996 and the

Times-Union food editor in 1997-2007.

He lives in Jacksonville Beach.

new restaurant over on Forsyth Street), a

veritable plethora of craft beers brewed

on-site and a warehouse that doubles as a


BOB SELF (2)

performance space.

Just a block away, right next to the

VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on

A. Philip Randolph Boulevard, sits That

Bar — yes, that’s the name. It draws the

bulk of foot traffic from people leaving the

Arena, Daily’s Place or TIAA Bank Field,

and it hosts open-mic jam sessions every

Tuesday.

While Bay Street is the undisputed

commercial core for Downtown nightlife,

the one block of Adams Street between

Laura and Hogan (right around the corner

from Chamblin’s Uptown) carries a

disproportionate share of load, in terms of

foot traffic.

That block is home to perhaps the city’s

premier jazz club, Breezy, just a couple

doors down from the iconic speakeasy-themed

bar The Volstead, which has

helped drive the resurgence of nightlife in

the section of Adams Street that for many

years was the epicenter of live music in the

urban core. Both of these clubs have live

music every weekend and often during the

week, especially for Art Walk.

Right across the street sits De Real

Ting, a Jamaican restaurant and reggae/

dancehall club that is one of the city’s truly

unique cultural experiences.

If you’ve never been Downtown

after-hours, the best way to start would be

at Art Walk. Most of the eateries and retail

spaces stay open past business hours for

the heavy foot traffic, while all the bars and

clubs open a bit earlier with happy hour

specials of different kinds.

Hemming Park is at full capacity,

augmented by food trucks that come in

from other parts of the city. Artists, media,

politicians and other residents network.

Civic institutions like the Museum of Contemporary

Art and the main branch of the

Jacksonville Public Library are side-byside

across from the park.

If you’re looking for a slight change of

pace, with refined settings without the

noise of a typical bar or club, consider

checking out one of the assorted hotel

bars. Downtown, the Omni and the Hyatt

both have hotel bars that stay open fairly

late, as do several of the hotels right across

the river on the Southbank, easily accessible

via the Main Street Bridge. Both banks,

in fact, have riverwalks that certainly merit

the occasional romantic moonlight stroll.

We all know that parking Downtown

can be a challenge when there’s something

going on, whether it’s Art Walk,

Florida-Georgia, the 4th of July, the Jazz

Festival or Welcome to Rockville. There

are few such issues in most after-hours settings.

If there are big shows at the Florida

Theatre, the Times-Union Center, Daily’s

Place and/or the arena, most of the street

parking is clear no later than 11 or 11:30,

and any of the bars and clubs you might

visit are likely to have open spaces within

a block of their front door, or two blocks at

worst.

Residents of nearby neighborhoods

may even choose not to drive. Public

transportation is a non-starter after early

evening, but walking is easy if you’re close

enough. From Riverside, you can walk

there via the Northbank Riverwalk. San

Marco residents can cross the Main Street

Bridge, and Main Street is a straight shot

down from Springfield. That’s a 20- to

30-minute walk in either direction, and it’s

TOP: Sylvia Luddnyo takes a selfie as she has drinks

with friends at the Volstead on West Adams Street.

BOTTOM: Members of the Lets Ride Brass Band

perform on Laura Street during Art Walk.

generally safe, though walking in groups

at night is always a good idea anywhere in

Florida these days.

And there are always taxis or rideshares

for about the cost of a single craft

cocktail. Worth every penny, especially if

you’ve been drinking — and honestly, if

you’re running around Downtown after

dark, you may have had a few.

Shelton Hull has written for Folio Weekly

for 22 years. He also appears regularly on WJCT.

He lives in Riverside.

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 89


Hunger Games

Continued from page 25

are about to open with no grocery store, nowhere to eat after 5 p.m.,

and you can’t walk two steps without getting asked for change.”

He cites safety as a concern. “At night there are zero eyes on the

street and zero feet on the ground patrol-wise for safety. There is no

revitalization until there are people in the urban core 24 hours a day

— living, working, shopping, eating, drinking and partying.

“Operating a small business Downtown has often proven more

challenging than it should be,” Hashem added. “The policies and the

actions being taken to overregulate Downtown business are dissuading

growth. I plan on having restaurants all over the city, and I hope

that Downtown can be a thriving part of The Happy Grilled Cheese’s

future. As a Jacksonville native, I plan on doing business and living in

Jacksonville for the rest of my life.”

Then there’s density, or lack of it. If Downtown had closely

clustered pockets of noteworthy restaurants, bars, office and retail

— bonafide entertainment districts with their own monikers — we

would thrive. Our limited options are spread well beyond a casual

walk and not well connected, especially for those unfamiliar with

Downtown.

Every good Downtown has a walkable street that’s lined — on

both sides — with bars and restaurants. For those wanting to attend a

concert and grab dinner or drinks at, say, Cowford Chophouse, it’s a

secluded walk afterward to the venue. Florida Theatre and Times-

Union Center, maybe. Daily’s Place, no. No one is going to hoof it in

STRIVING FOR SOMETHING

The NEW Teen Center and Swimming Pool

at the Johnson Family YMCA

LEARN MORE AT

FCYMCA.org

business attire from drinks at Morton’s The Steakhouse at the Hyatt

to dinner at BurgerFi. Same goes for drinks at Dos Gatos and dinner

at Ruth’s Chris.

Jacksonville would benefit greatly from a cluster of restaurants and

bars located together within a two- or three-block radius. Restaurants

meshed with retail shops also help to keep visitors moving along

a corridor. A 30-foot area without retail can cause a visitor to turn

around.

And those hot pockets need pathways to hopscotch between

them — a dose of connectivity. Recently I experienced this as I was

escorting an out-of-town guest for a weeknight happy hour after dark.

As we migrated from Cowford Chophouse to Bellwether, my guest

mentioned how abandoned and ‘scary’ it seemed. “Shouldn’t we just

drive?” she implored.

As we crossed Main Street at Bay, I explained that it would be

okay to walk but quickly saw her point as we dissolved into dimly lit

streets hugged by echo-y parking deck after parking deck devoid of

street-level activity. All of this while encountering an unsavory character

asking for handouts along the way.

All of this to say: We can do better, and need more to fill the many

gaps.

Where we are

doing okay:

These three syndromes aren’t all consuming of the body

Downtown. The area has notched several victories that should be

acknowledged.

Over the past 10 years, we’ve seen a dilapidated, vacant building

at Ocean and Bay transform brick-by-brick into a three-story

fine-dining experience in Cowford Chophouse. Offering one floor

with white tablecloth service, another with a more casual bar, plus

a rooftop bar with the full menu, Cowford has been a welcome

addition to the Downtown dining landscape.

Nearby Bellwether, the fourth installment from popular local

restaurateur Jonathan Insetta, opened in the 100 North Laura

building in spring 2017. Sister restaurants, Restaurant Orsay in

Avondale and Black Sheep in Five Points, are consistently two of

Jacksonville’s best. (Former Insetta darling, Chew, was nearby for

five years on Adams Street and houses Kazu Sushi Burrito these

days.) Bellwether offers lunch on weekdays — with an order, pay

and sit, or full-service option — and dinner and full bar Wednesday

through Saturday with a limited Tuesday menu. A walk-up

counter serving local Bold Bean coffee is a little-advertised option

for caffeine seekers.

Nola MOCA inside the Museum of Contemporary Art is a

gorgeous weekday respite from the office for lunch with its massive

windows and natural light. The menu is diverse and portions generous.

Dinner service is sadly limited to Thursday.

Morton’s The Steakhouse relocated from the Southbank to the

ground floor of the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront Hotel,

but that’s off the beaten path for those wanting to grab dinner and

then head out to most other venues.

Gili’s Kitchen, occupying the former Adams Street Deli, is a

gem. It has quickly become my go-to lunch option. Its chef-driven

items are made fresh and the menu accommodates kosher, gluten-free,

vegetarian and vegan diners easily. It is the only restaurant

on the block open until 8 p.m. for dinner.

Nearby Zodiac Grill offers an affordable, expansive Mediterranean

lunch buffet. Other casual lunch options include Olio, Spliff’s

Gastropub, Akel’s Deli, The Happy Grilled Cheese, Magnificat

Café, Super Food and Brew, Chamblin’s Uptown café, TossGreen,

Desert Rider Café and Urban Grind. There’s also Burrito Gallery,

90

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


which in my opinion has gone downhill

over the years, and old standby Indochine

upstairs for good sit-down Thai cuisine.

Where we can

DO BETTER:

With the Florida Theatre, Times-

Union Center for the Performing Arts

and Daily’s Place bringing more acts

Downtown, eateries have followed, but we

still seem to be pressed for variety:

The urban core continues to miss out

on barbecue, a staple in most every other

far-flung corner of Duuuval. Longtime

fixture Jenkins Quality Barbecue is on the

edge of Downtown, but not walkable or

near anything else.

Soul food is absent, as is sushi. We have

fast-casual Kazu Sushi Burrito, which is

sometimes crowded at lunch, but barren

after 5. Outside of that, there is not a

Japanese or sushi restaurant in the core

otherwise.

There’s no French restaurant that serves

dinner, and we aren’t even blessed with a

bakery of any sort.

Homemade pasta and sit-down Italian

are non-existent dinner options. Casual

spot, Chicago Pizza, at the Jacksonville

Landing recently closed after nearly 10

years in business. Casa Dora is open

most evenings but isn’t a Downtown

destination — it’s more of a simple, quick

solution to dinner before a Florida Theatre

show. Longtime full-service Downtown

Italian restaurant La Cena pulled out

awhile back from Laura Street, relocating

to a non-descript Murray Hill location.

And oddly enough, often on the busiest

of nights Downtown like One Spark and

First Wednesday Art Walk, its owner would

close the restaurant for the evening.

Forget Indian food, unless you count

award-winning mobile food truck Fusion,

which only parks Downtown once or twice

weekly for lunch.

You can think of variety in terms of

cuisine and its availability in the form of

more evening and weekend hours. Restaurateurs

will go there once round-the-clock

activity attracts their hungry target market

and makes it economically viable.

There’s virtually no outdoor dining now

that The Jacksonville Landing awaits its

demise. The only true outdoor dining in

the urban core is the rooftop at Cowford

Chophouse and a series of umbrella-shaded

picnic tables at the Court Urban Food

Truck Park on Hogan Street. Honorable

mentions go out to the hidden area at

Urban Grind Coffee Shop, a few seats

outside of Super Food and Brew, and a

handful of outside tables at Bellwether,

and Burrito Gallery’s small outdoor patio.

For guests staying Downtown on weekends,

walkable brunch options are beyond

scarce. The Omni Jacksonville and Hyatt

hotels own the Northbank market, short

of hailing an Uber or rental car to nosh at

hotspots in San Marco or Riverside. Even

First Watch and bb’s are too far by foot,

especially as the temperatures rise.

Putting it all

together

While we have not yet made Downtown

a dining destination, the ingredients may

be lining up. Consider new residential

units and national-flag hotels open and in

the works, educational institutions UNF, JU

and FSCJ growing their urban campuses,

blooming adaptive reuse (The Barnett,

Laura Street Trio) and ground-up (JEA)

projects, a flourish in LaVilla and infusions

of new workers (VyStar).

All of these residents, workers, students,

tourists and sports fans will need to eat

somewhere.

Once Downtown finds its swagger, its

culinary pot of cool may start simmering.

But a lot of people will need to take turns

stirring.

“I think residential population density

is our bigger problem,” said Insetta. “Also

getting guests to come Downtown when

it’s a non-event night. We have seen steadier

numbers at night on non-event nights,

but we have some great restaurants Downtown

and I would love to see Downtown

busy at night. I think a student population

or just more residents in general would be

huge for Downtown.

“We need vitality outside of business

hours — we have an amazing Downtown

and it just needs to be brought to life,” he

added.

Matthew Clark, a commercial real estate

broker with Prime Realty, has helped

usher businesses Downtown. “When I

started in commercial real estate, I had a

passion for Downtown Jacksonville retail.

I quickly realized it was going to take more

people Downtown to bring a retail vibe to

fruition. Although we had some success

over the past few years bringing retail to

the core — Bellwether, Jimmy Johns,

Wolf & Cub, TossGreen and Anytime

Fitness to name a few — it will take a

dense residential component to continue

to move the initiative forward. Many retailers

not only want to see a strong daytime

population, but nighttime as well.”

This is true for William Morgan, owner

of Vagabond Coffee on Hogan Street,

which initially got its start as a mobile unit

in nearby Hemming Park. It has expansion

plans Downtown for its locally roasted

beans: Laura Street inside the Barnett

Bank Building.

“There is no other specialty coffee in

the center city,” said Morgan. “We provide

an option for people who enjoy a higher

level of coffee and grab and go. We are

beyond excited to be opening soon in

the Barnett Bank Building, furthering our

commitment to be in the heart of Jacksonville.”

From mobile unit to a location in Murray

Hill to Hogan Street and this new venture,

Morgan notes, “It has been hard —

really hard at times — and we are excited

to continue to grow in Downtown, but we

need the support of everyone Downtown.”

When asked what’s missing from

Downtown’s landscape, Morgan smiles

and says, “I mean this in all love, but everything.

There are very much the embers of a

great awakening in Downtown Jax, but we

need many, many more to join us in our

pursuit of greatness for our city center.”

Nearby local boutique Wolf & Club

has been Downtown almost three years.

Its success also hasn’t come without its

struggles and hard work.

Its owner, Emily Moody-Rosete, would

love to see more retail and restaurants

“take a risk” and move Downtown, but

says, “Unfortunately there isn’t a lot to

attract and encourage small businesses to

open here, and that’s a big missed opportunity

for the city.”

She and husband Varick Rosete chose

Downtown for the brick-and-mortar

location of Wolf & Cub because they are

passionate about helping contribute to

building Downtown into “a vibrant district

full of interesting shops, eateries and

activities.”

“Although underutilized and underappreciated,

we really do have a beautiful

Downtown,” she adds. “Even though there

is still not as much to offer as other more

established Jacksonville neighborhoods,

Downtown should be proud of the quality

of businesses, cultural institutions and

public programming it does have.”

Insetta agrees. “We see the potential in

this city and also the importance of having

a vibrant productive urban core,” he said.

“It has such good bones and potential,

and we would like to be a positive force for

change for growth Downtown.”

Caron Streibich works for Regency Centers and

is a Florida Times-Union bi-weekly food writer. She lives

on the Southbank.

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 91


QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

By Mike Clark & Roger Brown

A voice for

Hemming

‘Jacksonville residents deserve

beautiful things, beautiful places’

hristina Parrish Stone is managing director

of Friends of Hemming Park, the

C

nonprofit contracted to manage Jacksonville’s

most historic public space.

She sees tremendous potential in Downtown Jacksonville,

but has a clear view

of its challenges. Having

CHRISTINA

PARRISH

STONE

WORK:

Managing Director of

Friends of Hemming Park.

FROM:

Chatham, N.J.

LIVES IN:

Springfield

visited every state and

about 40 foreign nations,

she has images

of successful

town squares

in mind. In

the following

interview,

she speaks

about what she

believes are

strengths, weaknesses

and misconceptions about Downtown.

She was interviewed by Times-Union

Editorial Page Editor Mike Clark and Editorial

Writer Roger Brown. Comments were edited for

space and clarity.

Parrish Stone was born in Atlanta. When

she was young, her family moved to Chatham,

N.J., while her father worked as an engineer for

AT&T in Manhattan, primarily on the Longlines

cable ship. Her mother was an artist, a writer and

a musician. Her parents loved music, and as a

result so did Parrish Stone, who studied piano from

early childhood. She remembers the “wonderful school

system” in New Jersey. She is passionate about public

education and, in particular, arts education today.

Parrish has vivid memories of driving into New York City

with her father when the city was an exciting but sometimes

uncomfortable place to visit. “We’d drive through the Holland

WILL DICKEY

92

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


70 PORTS

23 STATES

1 HOMETOWN

CSX is proud to be part of a diverse and innovative business community.

We’re working hard to make a difference in Jacksonville and beyond.


“This was

about 1986.

The Landing

was the most

exciting thing

happening,

but its

development

was badly

timed.

Downtown

was more

crowded then

than it is

now, at least

in terms of

traffic, but

you could

clearly see it

was starting

to die.

Hemming

was, frankly,

awful.”

Tunnel to have dinner in Chinatown; such an

exotic experience for an elementary school

student! But the city at that time had a lot of the

same worries we have in Jacksonville: crumbling

infrastructure, vacant storefronts, a large

transient population, concerns about crime and

safety. I remember Times Square when it was

full of X-rated movie places; I was pick-pocketed

at Bloomingdales. The transformation from then

until now is incredible! New York has instituted

a number of policies that could benefit Jacksonville

— police officers on foot greeting tourists

who now feel safe in a formerly scary place, for

example.”

Her father was overseas much of the time,

visiting dozens of countries and sending postcards

or bringing home treasures that inspired

Parrish Stone’s lifelong love of travel and interest

in tourism. The constant travel was exhausting;

he changed gears and returned to Atlanta and

Georgia Tech to earn a Ph.D., eventually becoming

a professor at Georgia Southern University.

“He later became dean of the business school

at Savannah State College, an historically black

college. Most of his students and colleagues,

many who became close family friends, were

people of color. This was in the very early 1980s,

and it was an experience that changed me in

a lot of positive ways and opened my eyes to

some of the issues we are exploring more closely

today, like institutional racism and respect for

cultural differences.”

For a variety of reasons, at the age of 16 she

left home to be on her own. She worked three

jobs during her last year of high school, serving

as a cashier at Winn-Dixie, a clerk at a local

insurance company and a bookkeeper for a

downtown hardware store that was adjacent to

a central city park similar in many ways to Hemming.

She earned her undergraduate degree at

Georgia Southern and, at the age of 19, moved to

Savannah and worked there for Savannah Bank

and Trust.

“Savannah was sleepier than it is now, but it

was a wonderful city to live in, beautiful, celebrating

its architecture and history, with just the

right amount of tourism. It wasn’t too crowded

but thanks to all of the visitors, there were great

restaurants and other attractions. Savannah took

care of its downtown spaces. As a brand new

banker, I couldn’t afford a space in a parking

garage, so I parked more than a mile from my

office, and every morning and afternoon I had

the privilege of walking through Savannah’s

beautiful city squares. Hemming Park reminds

me a lot of those spaces.”

“It’s part of what drives me today, my memories

of those daily walks through those gorgeous

little parks.”

When First Union took over Savannah Bank

and Trust, Parrish had an opportunity to move

to Jacksonville with what felt like a big promotion

and the possibility of an exciting new

adventure in a big city in her early 20s.

Moving HERE when

the Landing was hot

“I thought I was moving on up from a small

town to a big city, and in terms of sheer size and

overall population, that was true, but it was the

opposite in terms of the experiences you could

have in Jacksonville at the time. The places to go

out to eat and enjoy activities appealing to a single

20-something professional were very limited.

I soon felt I had made a terrible mistake.

“This was about 1986. The Landing was the

most exciting thing happening but its development

was badly timed. Downtown was more

crowded then than it is now, at least in terms of

traffic, but you could clearly see it was starting to

die. Hemming was, frankly, awful. The beautiful

St. James Building was a mess, still occupied by

May Cohens but with no merchandise someone

my age would want to buy. There were still a few

great hole-in-the wall restaurants, and some

interesting long-time businesses were still hanging

on. But almost immediately after I arrived

in Jacksonville, the decline of Downtown began

to accelerate. Banks and insurance companies

were consolidating and moving employees to

Southpoint, or to other cities. At the same time,

scores of beautiful historic buildings were being

demolished and replaced by soon-to-be-unnecessary

parking lots and garages, thanks to the

concurrent loss of jobs Downtown.”

“When the city began demolishing LaVilla, I

don’t remember a significant amount of concern

expressed about the destruction of this incredible

historic neighborhood, a neighborhood that

should have been celebrated, protected and leveraged

to bring visitors to the city. The envisioned

redevelopment — office towers lining the streets

from I-95 to the center city — of course never

happened, thanks to the real estate Downturn

and flight to the suburbs. That period is a truly

tragic part of our history.”

From banking to law

“During the real estate crisis of the late 1980s,

I worked with a lot of attorneys, an experience

that led me to law school at the University of Florida.

I loved all of the classes and seminars related

to property — land use, historic preservation.

After graduation I spent a year at the State Attorney’s

Office because I thought trial experience

would be good for me; I was a terrible trial lawyer

thanks to a tremendous fear of public speaking,

but the things I learned and the relationships I

developed there have been invaluable. I went to

work as a real estate and bond lawyer at Foley &

Lardner, and later worked for a residential developer

and for Rayonier.”

With four children, divorced and a single

mom, she left Rayonier and started her own

94

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


law firm in Springfield. She fell in love with that

neighborhood and its potential, first working as

a volunteer on community projects ranging from

the Hogans Creek Greenway to the Springfield

Disc Golf Course and finally as a founder of

Jacksonville PorchFest. She chaired the steering

committee that brought Groundwork to Jacksonville

and eventually became a part-time executive

director for Springfield Preservation. She served

on the Historical Society board, where she got to

know historian Wayne Wood.

That led to her involvement with Hemming

Park.

Friends of Hemming’s

rocky early years

“Selecting a nonprofit to manage Hemming

Park was absolutely the right solution for the

challenges the city was facing there six years ago,

and the group of people who founded and staffed

Friends of Hemming Park had brilliant ideas and

did amazing things to change the atmosphere

and create a buzz about Downtown. In retrospect,

I think we all would agree that the contract

with the city in some ways forced that group to

focus too much on big events and not enough on

some of the critical challenges facing the park.

Security was not a priority, and goals were related

to the number of visitors and number of events

and not so much on making the park a place that

is attractive and comfortable and safe for the

general public seven days a week. The Friends

of Hemming Park hosted fabulous events, which

I regularly attended, and the park would look

great because it was full of people and activity,

but during the week the long-time problems

with illegal and nuisance activity, inadequate

maintenance, outdated furnishings and facilities

continued.”

“That led to the well-publicized problems with

the city. City Council members and the mayoral

administration saw a park that still had significant

issues related to crime and maintenance. There

was a feeling that business people, visitors and

families were only comfortable in the park during

the big events. Council members began questioning

how funds were being spent. The future did

not look bright for the park or the nonprofit that

managed it.”

Righting the ship

“Bill Prescott and the rest of the board of directors

saved Friends of Hemming Park. Bill transitioned

from the board to an unpaid position as

CEO, and he preserved funding (at a significantly

reduced but adequate level), negotiated contract

changes and oversaw the addition of security

and improvements to the ambassador program.

Perhaps most importantly, he reestablished trust

with the city administration. Bill continues to

work hard for the organization as board chair.

Damien Robinson, the only staff member who

“By the time

I arrived (as

the managing

director of

Friends of

Hemming

Park),

the hardest

work had

been done.

I was able

to focus on

events and

programming.

I started with

two things

that were

easy for me:

an expanded

lineup of

musicians

and food

trucks.”

has been with the organization almost from the

beginning, was a big part of the progress made in

the past couple of years. The staff and board did

a great job of managing a difficult process, and of

making changes that were sometimes criticized.

The current administration has been supportive

as well, and I think that relationship will continue

to improve. The nonprofit and the city won’t

always agree on actions that need to be taken, but

I think we’ve achieved a good balance.

“I had the good fortune to join the group

after security was established and other changes

— some that I didn’t understand at the time

— had been made. I was one of the people who

questioned the removal of seating and wondered

what was wrong with allowing people to sit on the

edge of the fountains and other ledges. You really

have to be in the park every day to understand

why those steps were necessary. The change to

movable seating has been extremely helpful in

connection with events and to make adjustments

to accommodate the wide variety of visitors to

the park. With the moveable seating, we can

host large concerts or more intimate gatherings

(sometimes both at the same time). We can try

to accommodate smokers in an area that doesn’t

interfere with others’ enjoyment of our dining

areas or the kids zone. The fountains weren’t

designed for people sitting on the edges; we are

still working to repair damage to the tile. We do

hope to add permanent seating in portions of the

park soon.

“By the time I arrived, the hardest work had

been done. I was able to focus on events and

programming. I started with two things that were

easy for me: an expanded lineup of musicians and

food trucks. I love good food, and I used to own a

music store, booked bands and know a lot of musicians

and vendors because of that experience

and four years of organizing Jacksonville Porch-

Fest. Big events were more challenging — there

had been no full-time programming staff for quite

a while when I arrived, so not even one event was

on the calendar for the next year. The great thing

about that was that I could, within the limits of

our contract, experiment with a lot of different

things. I wanted events that were inclusive and

celebrated Jacksonville’s history and the culture of

this diverse city.

“We started with a Hanukkah party after a

friend told me how much she missed the public

menorah lighting and celebration she had attended

every year in Boston. We added events for

Black History Month, Women’s History Month,

a Hispanic Heritage celebration and a Bluegrass,

Beer and Barbecue festival. Our Fall and Spring

Family Days have been a huge hit (complete

with a Parks and Rec-inspired miniature horse),

and we just finished a full month of activities to

celebrate National Poetry Month, thanks to a

partnership with nonprofits Hope at Hand and

the Performers Academy. The closing celebration

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 95


was phenomenal, and it was wonderful to see

how strongly people are impacted by the written

and spoken word.

“We’ve really

gotten to a

good place,

but we still

have much

work to do

to change

perceptions.

There

are many

people who

still think

Downtown

and Hemming

Park are

dangerous,

that there is

nothing to do,

nothing to see

or no parking,

which is

absolutely

not true.”

Plans for the future

“We continue to work to make the park more

beautiful. That’s very important to me; Hemming

Park should be a place that is visually appealing to

all of our visitors. We are the front door to City Hall,

to treasures like MOCA and our magnificent Main

Library. It’s challenging — our design dates back

almost 50 years, and the park is due for more than

a facelift. It’s time to focus on that, with the help

of well qualified experts in landscape architecture

and park design. I hope that before I leave this

position the city government will approve funding

that will allow us to make Hemming Park the

world-class space that it should be. We need input

from people much more skilled than I am. What

elements should this park include? What events

and activities should we focus on? We constantly

hear from people who advocate primarily for more

grass; I was one of those people two years ago, but

now I’m not so sure. We need more green in the

park, but most successful small city squares are

paved, and for a good reason. City squares should

be active places, and grass is hard to maintain.

The Confederate memorial is a continuing topic of

conversation that needs to be addressed but that

will not easily be resolved. The ultimate decisions

about that rest with City Council and the Mayor’s

Office.

“Until we find the funding for a major park

restoration, we work hard with what we have.

When I started in late 2017, all the small beds

were empty, just dirt, and the city had no money

set aside for landscaping. I asked businesses

to become beautification sponsors so we could

plant flowers. That small change has made a huge

difference, and this year the city has been able to

fund some additional landscape improvements.

We have done several public art projects, including

a hands-on mosaic project with Roux Art during

last year’s Public Art Week. Next up is a significant

sculpture project with UNF that will be unveiled

in June and provides several UNF students an

opportunity to navigate the public art process and

create a large-scale sculpture, funded by Hemming

Park, that the students will own but will exhibit in

the park for a year.

“We continue to add weekday and weekend

programming. This year we started our Hemming

Park Walking Club, which provides a free onehour

walking tour at 11:30 on Tuesdays. Every

week we visit a different part of Downtown Jacksonville

that has historical significance or features

public art. We’ve visited the Clara White museum,

St. John’s Cathedral, the Morocco Temple, the Florida

Theatre and about a dozen other Downtown

spaces. We have at least 15 to 20 people who join

us regularly for these walks. We added yoga classes

on Sundays and a growing market, featuring produce

from Berry Good Farms, on the first, third

and fifth Tuesday of each month. These activities

are getting a tremendous positive response.

“Our staff is tiny, so we rely on partnerships

to do bigger events. We’re engaging with the

wonderful institutions located around the park;

we meet with the Library, MOCA and other

downtown stakeholders frequently to align our

programming so that we can leverage our resources.

We have found that, when we co-produce

or coordinate events, we have better attendance.

Families can visit Downtown and find enough

activities to entertain them for an entire day.

“We’ve really gotten to a good place, but we

still have much work to do to change perceptions.

There are many people who still think Downtown

and Hemming Park are dangerous, that there

is nothing to do, nothing to see or no parking,

which is absolutely not true. I can’t remember the

last time we had an incident in the park that was

particularly challenging from a safety perspective.

We have private security in the park from sun up

to sun down, seven days a week. We have programming

seven days a week and are surrounded

by interesting places. If you come to Hemming

Park, you can cross one street and gain access to a

world-class art museum, MOCA. You can admire

the incredible architecture of Henry Klutho’s St.

James Building, and visit one of the coolest candy

stores in the United States at Sweet Pete’s. MOSH

is a short Skyway ride away and the Main Library,

with its maker space and outstanding Florida collection,

is next door. It’s safe, it’s fun, and yes, it’s

pretty! And there is plenty of parking Downtown

— the library garage is one block away.

Emphasizing the positive

“I’m working at Hemming Park because I care

deeply about Downtown Jacksonville and how

Jacksonville is perceived by people from other

places. I see the tremendous potential in Jacksonville.

But I’m often frustrated. Somehow, in

spite of the efforts and good intentions of many,

we’ve done a really poor job of sharing all the good

things we have here with the rest of the world.

People don’t know about our history. They don’t

know about our natural and other assets.

“Our walking tours illustrate that. We have participants

who are visitors from other cities, other

countries, but also from other parts of Jacksonville.

Many had never been to MOCA before our

tour. They had never seen the Main Library’s map

collection; they had never been to a show at the

Florida Theatre. They had concerns about safety

or parking, but now, after walking with us twice a

week for the past four months, they’ve changed

their opinions. We need to create more of these

experiences for visitors.

“We should brand and promote our original,

historic Downtown. If you’re driving north on I-95,

the only sign that points you to Downtown says

‘Jacksonville Landing.’ The Landing will be gone

96

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


soon. Why not promote our ‘Downtown Historic

District’?

“Let’s start talking about the positive things that

are already here and talk less about what we don’t

have Downtown; let’s change the conversation.

“When I first moved to Springfield, I fell in love

with Klutho Park and its potential. Klutho Park

needs a lot of work, but it is still beautiful. I would

invite practically everyone I met to visit the park

with me, and every single person who accepted

could immediately see what a tremendous asset

we have, neglected but amazing. Groundwork

Jacksonville is changing perceptions about Klutho

and Hogans Creek. People were afraid to go to

Springfield when I moved there in 2010. Residents

of Springfield worked hard to organize events and

change the conversation. Now the neighborhood

is booming.

“Downtown is already awesome in so many

ways. We need to celebrate what we’ve got, change

our messaging.

Three secrets to

Downtown success

“We need to change perceptions about parking,

safety and the transient population.

“I want Downtown — not just Hemming

Park — to become a destination for Jacksonville

residents and visitors to the city. Parking is the

No. 1 one concern of many of our visitors. Let’s

make parking easier for them and expand the use

of public transportation. I’m excited about a new

partnership we’ve developed with JTA: Through

the end of this year, the skyway will run on one

Saturday every month, a Saturday when several

events are happening at Hemming and with our

partners. We hope to activate the Skyway stations

and platforms, and create a really wonderful experience

for riders. It will be possible to park at a JTA

lot and spend the entire day visiting Downtown

attractions in a fun, family friendly way with minimal

stress. We hope this will be so successful that

JTA will continue and expand the program next

year. Let’s start building ridership now. Let’s make

Downtown Jacksonville a seven-day-a-week place.

“Downtown is one of the safest parts of Jacksonville,

but visitors don’t feel that way. JSO needs

to do what New York did with police officers, on

foot, interacting in a positive way with visitors 24/7

in locations around Downtown. It would be well

worth the investment.

“Like most urban areas, we have a Downtown

homeless population. The city has started providing

additional resources to assist that homeless

population, which is fantastic. The Urban Rest

Stop is a huge step in the right direction. Meanwhile,

one change that could help perceptions

about the size of the homeless population is a

change in hours for the Main Library. The library

provides significant resources for residents,

including much needed access to computers.

Because the opening hours vary from day to day,

“Downtown

is one of the

safest parts of

Jacksonville,

but visitors

don’t feel

that way.

JSO needs

to do what

New York did

with police

officers,

on foot,

interacting

in a positive

way with

visitors 24/7

in locations

around

Downtown.

It would

be well

worth the

investment.”

we end up with a large group of people waiting

to access the library in the mornings, sometimes

sitting outside for several hours. A consistent 9

a.m. opening time would help everyone. I am not

suggesting that the library should take the place

of an appropriately sized resource center, but

until that exists this is a relatively simple change

that, if funded, could improve perceptions about

Downtown.

If she were in charge

of all of Downtown

“Since I am never going to run for political

office, I can say this: We need a dedicated funding

source for parks and historic preservation, and

that means new taxes. It is unacceptable that

architectural treasures like Snyder Memorial

Church and the Armory are crumbling. These

places played a significant role in our city’s

history. Both of those buildings are going to be

challenging to renovate, and I think we need to

stop waiting for a private company to bail us out

on those. Let’s do the work that needs to be done

to save them now, before it’s too late. We have

an incredible parks system, one of the largest by

acreage in the country. And it’s a tragedy that our

per-capita spending on our parks is one of the

lowest in the country. Our parks department does

a lot with what they have, but they need funding

to activate and maintain those parks. They need

additional staff. Jacksonville residents deserve

beautiful things, beautiful places.

”Why do — or should — people want to visit

Jacksonville? We focus too much on sports and

not on our other assets. I’m a huge sports fan,

and I travel to see sporting events. But when I

compare cities to decide which one I want to visit

to see my team play, or attend a golf tournament,

I look for other interesting activities. I want to

learn about a place’s history and see historic

sights, experience art and culture. I want to

participate in outdoor activities myself, not just

watch others compete.

“Let’s preserve our history and share it with

the rest of the world. Let’s leverage our resources

and improve and program our parks. Improve

quality of life for the people who already live here

and provide an irresistible vacation opportunity

for those who don’t. We don’t need to wait until

Downtown has 10,000 residents — if we showcase

our existing assets and overcome negative

perceptions, the residents and visitors will come.

It may not always be easier here, but some of the

solutions are not that hard.

Mike Clark has been a reporter and editor

for The Florida Times-Union and its predecessors

since 1973 and editorial page editor since 2005.

He lives in Nocatee.

Roger Brown is a Times-Union editorial

writer and member of the editorial board.

He lives Downtown.

SUMMER 2019 | J MAGAZINE 97


THE FINAL WORD

A case for saving

our Downtown’s

historic buildings

WAYNE

WOOD

EMAIL

wayne@

jaxhistory.com

n May 3, 1901, most of Downtown

O Jacksonville was destroyed by one of

the greatest urban fires in American

history. The rebuilding of the city was remarkable,

not only for the speed of its recovery,

but also because of the quality of buildings

that were constructed in the new Jacksonville.

Architects and investors came from across the

country to claim a piece of the renaissance.

The latest architectural styles and the newest

construction techniques made this one of the

most modern mid-size cities in the nation.

Probably as much as 75 percent of those new

buildings constructed following the Great Fire have

now been demolished. In a few cases, they have been

replaced with outstanding modern buildings, but sadly,

in most cases they have been replaced with parking lots

and garages, as well as bland commercial buildings that

contribute nothing of beauty. This makes the preservation

of those surviving Downtown historic landmarks

all the more important.

In trying to create a vibrant and viable Downtown

for the future, there is much we can learn from these

remaining old buildings in our urban core:

Most of them are beautiful. There are architectural

details on the first floors that are inviting and respect

the human scale. They interact with passersby at the

pedestrian level. Their entrances are clearly delineated,

often by breaking the plane of the façade, and are

embellished with ornamentation. These early commercial

buildings reflected the quality and pride of their

owners.

They were distinctive but interconnected. In the

heyday of Downtown, each block was filled with a

continuous row of businesses. The activity in one

enhanced the vibrance of the next. People don’t like to

walk past empty lots and vacant structures. Streets lined

with buildings that have uninterrupted walls (like the

Monroe Street side of our Downtown Main Library) are

foreboding and unfriendly. A thriving Downtown must

be pedestrian-friendly, safe and welcoming.

Our vintage buildings give us sense of place and

historic identity. They connect us with our uniqueness

as a city and make us stand apart from other dull metropolises.

Early 20th century architects like Henry John

Klutho gave Jacksonville the finest architecture of their

time. We should value and preserve these treasures.

Saving our historic buildings is not just an exercise

in sentimentality — it makes economic sense. To allow

many of these structures to remain empty or to demolish

them is a waste of investments that have already

been made, both financial and cultural.

Look at the successful areas of Downtown where

business is thriving and where people are gathering,

and you will see concentrations of historic buildings.

Look at the major construction activity Downtown

today, and you will see historic buildings being restored

and preserved, with a dozen significant projects recently

completed or currently underway.

The big news here is that there are amazing financial

incentives to restore and preserve our landmark structures.

The majority of the Downtown core has recently

been listed in the National Register of Historic Places as

a certified historic district. Renovation of contributing

structures within this district is eligible for 20 percent

federal income tax credits. That is a significant incentive

to investment! These buildings are also eligible for

local ad valorem tax deductions. And finally, there is

a Downtown Historic Preservation and Revitalization

Trust Fund that is available for qualified projects. (For

more information, contact the Jacksonville Historic

Preservation Commission at 904-255-7800.)

Our historic structures also teach us another important

lesson. Every new building that we build in our

Downtown should be beautiful and should be the finest

architecture of our time. The buildings of our future will

tell as much about this city as those historic buildings

that we preserve. When spaces for new construction

come available (such as that of the recently demolished

city hall and courthouse, as well as the potential

removal of the Landing), we must fill those voids with

great buildings, which will become iconic symbols of

our magnificent river city to the world.

These new buildings don’t necessarily have to be

stunning architectural landmarks like the Sydney Opera

House ... but on the other hand, WHY NOT?

Optometrist Wayne Wood is the author of numerous

books on Jacksonville, including Jacksonville’s Architectural

Heritage: Landmarks for the Future. He is also the founder of

Riverside Avondale Preservation and the Riverside Arts Market.

He lives in Riverside.

99

J MAGAZINE | SUMMER 2019


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