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Urban Parks: Northbank Riverwalk

The ever expanding Northbank Riverwalk is one of the most popular and well-used attractions in Downtown Jacksonville. The 2 mile greenway connects Riverside with Downtown.

Published January 13, 2009 in Neighborhoods      39 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


feature

The east end of the Northbank Riverwalk will eventually be completed between the Berkman and Shipyards properties. When complete, the riverwalk will reach Kids Kampus and Metropolitan Park.





The Jacksonville Fire Memorial was erected to remind our community of the disaster our city faced and survived. The memorial was dedicated in 2003 to mark the 100th anniversary of what many have called the most destructive burning of a southern city in history.




In 2002, the Jacksonville Track Club partnered with the city in commissioning 'The Runner', a statue of a sprinting man on the riverwalk.

At the center of the Northbank Riverwalk is The Landing, a complex of restaurants and assorted shops where numerous events take place. Next door, the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts hosts everything from touring Broadway shows, the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and popular music acts.

The Northbank Riverwalk initially only stretched from Berkman Plaza, west to the CSX Building. Restaurants along the riverwalk in this area include Plaza III, Benny's Steak & Seafood, American Cafe, Hooters and Koja Sushi.





In January 2005, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to celebrate the opening of the latest extension of the Northbank Riverwalk. Construction took nearly two years for the 1.5-mile, $8.7 million project. The landscaped brick walkway connects the existing Riverwalk at the CSX building to Riverside Avenue.

Its features include historic lighting, water fountains, trash receptacles, bike racks, irrigated landscaping, bathrooms, and over 100 benches.













The City of Jacksonville and Fidelity National Financial executed a land swap in 2008 that added more access to the river in the form of a 1.3-acre park with 28 public parking spaces in exchange for the parcel of land under Riverside Avenue's historic fire station.





Artists' Square will be the latest attraction along the Riverwalk. The new public space will feature an artist market and space for musicians and performing artist. Located under I-95, this attraction is tentatively set to open on March 14, 2009.



The west end of the Northbank Riverwalk will eventually be extended from Riverside Artist Square to Cummer Museum, Five Points, and Riverside Memorial Park.

Photo article by Ennis Davis








39 Comments

brainstormer

January 13, 2009, 06:13:34 AM
I personally love the Northbank Riverwalk and feel it is under appreciated by most who live outside of the core.  The picture of the courthouse parking lot reminded me of how the city has failed to capitalize on potential.  I have high hopes for that piece of land in the future.  Connecting downtown to Met Park via the riverwalk will go a long ways in producing some connectivity between the two sections.  Develop the courthouse parking lot, build the Shipyards complex and we might actually be on to something.  ;D

copperfiend

January 13, 2009, 07:52:19 AM
I like the Riverwalk as well. I cannot wait until the courthouse parking lot is gone.

Bike Jax

January 13, 2009, 08:49:35 AM
The Northbank Riverwalk is without a doubt the perfect example of what a transportation corridor can be. The number of people from Riverside and Avondale that commute by walking and/or riding a bike to downtown increased dramatically before the west end was even officially completed.

BridgeTroll

January 13, 2009, 08:54:25 AM
I wouldnt be surprised if they eventually need to designate bike lanes on the riverwalk... :)

thelakelander

January 13, 2009, 09:14:38 AM
The Northbank Riverwalk is without a doubt the perfect example of what a transportation corridor can be. The number of people from Riverside and Avondale that commute by walking and/or riding a bike to downtown increased dramatically before the west end was even officially completed.

I think we're missing the boat by not working to convert a portion of the Laura Street ROW into a bike corridor to better connect Springfield with Downtown.   Its a wide road that connects a lot of destinations and the city is getting ready to streetscape the street without incorporating bike lanes.

Downtown St. Petersburg


Downtown Hoboken

Lucasjj

January 13, 2009, 09:29:09 AM
I love the connectivity that the Riverwalk brings to Riverside and Downtown. If they could complete it down past the Shipyards to the Stadium area it would make it the best way to travel to games and other events from Riverside. I also like the idea of creating a dedicated bike path in downtown to create a corridor to Springfield.

I am no Lance Armstrong type cyclist, but I would love to see Jacksonville adapt more bike friendly policies in the core that would encourage people to not only use biclycles to commute downtown, but also enjoy downtown on them. I am not claiming to have a strategy in mind to do that, but anything would be good that brings people into downtown other that 9-5 on work days.

TPC

January 13, 2009, 09:48:39 AM
I love the Riverwalk. Whenever friends who live outside the core come visit and we go on bike rides I almost always take the Riverwalk to show it off. Not many cities have such a walkway on the water, plus you get some good views of Downtown.

When I worked Downtown and commuted on my bike I would take the Riverwalk and it was such a great way to start off the day.

The only negatives about the Riverwalk is that of the over 100 benches, about half are occupied by bums and the bottle neck at the Landing.

Traveller

January 13, 2009, 12:00:04 PM
Someone once told me that the land under the courthouse parking lot was primarily man-made infill, and for that reason nothing higher than one or two stories could be built on it.  He gave a similar reason for why the first Berkman Plaza tower must sit so far back from the river.  The land closer to the water was also infill and could not support the weight of the tower, only two story townhomes and a portion of the parking garage.

Assuming this is all true, and it makes sense that it would be, what exactly can be built on the site of the courthouse parking lot that would make best use of the property?  I know many have proposed a new convention center at the site of the current courthouse and city hall annex.  Are there any other ideas?

TPC

January 13, 2009, 12:09:09 PM
I remember seeing some aerial pics on here before showing how wide the river used to be and how much infill has taken place, it was pretty dramatic.

thelakelander

January 13, 2009, 12:11:58 PM
Quote
Assuming this is all true, and it makes sense that it would be, what exactly can be built on the site of the courthouse parking lot that would make best use of the property?

Its not true.  A new structure would have to be built with pilings that go down deep enough to support the structure (just like the Hyatt next door).





BridgeTroll

January 13, 2009, 12:33:34 PM
I am sure it is infill but all you have to do is look across the river at Strand and Peninsula.  I used to watch the construction there... They basically built a cofferdam around the site and began drilling and pouring the pilings and foundations.  They were constantly pumping water out of the site until the concrete was poured.  I seem to remember site prep and foundation building lasting as long as building the rest of the buildings...

JeffreyS

January 13, 2009, 01:10:32 PM
I watched a show on the history channel I believe that showed how the east river is about 2/3rd as wide as it once was due to construction pushing the banks further out.
The riverwalk is great Memorial park to Metro Park with dare to dream a bike lane I might have to get a new bike.

Joe

January 13, 2009, 01:36:47 PM
I love love love the Northbank Riverwalk. It's easy to complain about all of Jacksonville's brain-dead urban failures; however, the Northbank Riverwalk (particularly the Riverside Ave extension) is just fantastic. Of course, it's not without its faults. But overall it is a jewel. I dare say it's the defining public space of Jax.

If we could corral every anti-downtown suburbanite and convince them to walk the Riverwalk extension, I think it would change a lot of minds. I doubt it would make urbanites out of them, but I bet it would ease their hostility to urban development.

Quote
The west end of the Northbank Riverwalk will eventually be extended from Riverside Artist Square to Cummer Museum, Five Points, and Riverside Memorial Park.

I hope you are right Lakelander. However, I remember several of the riverfront condo owners raising LOUD objections to this proposed expansion. I literally dream of the day when I can jog from Memorial Park to Metropolitan Park along a continuous Riverwalk. But I fear that the political will is not there.

ProjectMaximus

January 13, 2009, 03:06:55 PM
Someone once told me that the land under the courthouse parking lot was primarily man-made infill, and for that reason nothing higher than one or two stories could be built on it.  He gave a similar reason for why the first Berkman Plaza tower must sit so far back from the river.  The land closer to the water was also infill and could not support the weight of the tower, only two story townhomes and a portion of the parking garage.

Assuming this is all true, and it makes sense that it would be, what exactly can be built on the site of the courthouse parking lot that would make best use of the property? 

All the skyscrapers along the Hong Kong Harbour are on man-made infill. Maybe there's a difference between the cities, but I don't think it should be a barrier that cannot be overcome.

ProjectMaximus

January 13, 2009, 03:07:46 PM
I share your dream, Joe. That jog sounds terrific.

JeffreyS

January 13, 2009, 03:08:17 PM
Memorial park to the Cummer is easy on the sidewalk.  If we could get the riverwalk to the Cummer it would still be close enough access the park.  If I owned one of those riverfront condos I would worry about a riverwalk extension.

thelakelander

January 13, 2009, 03:15:07 PM
If I owned one I would want the extra value a riverwalk connection would bring to my investment.

JeffreyS

January 13, 2009, 06:14:30 PM
If my memory serves there are not any with private river front but if there are you might not want to lose that. I do think it will be good for the area which helps all of the property owners.

aj_fresh

January 13, 2009, 07:04:46 PM
Quote
Someone once told me that the land under the courthouse parking lot was primarily man-made infill, and for that reason nothing higher than one or two stories could be built on it

This is not true. Two of the greatest building ever built were constructed on landfill.

Quote
The site of the World Trade Center was located on landfill with the bedrock located 65 feet (20 m) below.[40] In order to construct the World Trade Center, it was necessary to build the "bathtub" with a slurry wall along the West Street side of the site, serving to keep water from the Hudson River out.[41] The slurry method devised by Port Authority’s chief engineer, John M. Kyle, Jr., involved digging a trench, and as excavation proceeded, filling the space with a "slurry" mixture composed of bentonite which plugged holes and kept water out. When the trench was dug out, a steel cage was inserted and concrete was poured in, forcing the "slurry" out. It took fourteen months for the slurry wall to be completed; it was necessary before excavation of material from the interior of the site could begin.[42] The 1.2 million cubic yards (917,000 m³) of material excavated were used to expand the Manhattan shoreline across West Street to form Battery Park City (along with other fill and dredge material.)[43][44]


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Trade_Center#Construction

heights unknown

January 13, 2009, 10:51:43 PM
Now when I lived in Jax, there was no Northbank Riverwalk; I will be coming to Jax in a couple of days, haven't visited in over 2 years, and I will be looking and surveying downtown (and taking pics).  One question; how does the Southbank Riverwalk compare to the Northbank Riverwalk?  The Southbank Riverwalk used to be the focal point of downtown, but from the look of the pics, the Northbank Riverwalk is now the focal point (riverwalk wise) and the Southbank Riverwalk has taken a backseat; am I right in this assessment?

Heights Unknown

heights unknown

January 13, 2009, 10:57:36 PM
I agree; and we do need to focus on those under developed areas on the river; but we also need to "worry" some of the parking lot areas in the core with some talls and super talls as well (developments), especially near and around the new Courthouse area; THEN we might be on to something.  But the Northbank Riverwalk really looks beautiful, cool, and very nicely built and well kept.  Downtown Jax really looks clean and pristine in these pics, or am I missing something?  A far cry than when I lived there and it was dirty, unkept, etc.

Heights Unknown

Joe

January 13, 2009, 11:07:13 PM
^The Southbank Riverwalk still offers the best views, but it has deteriorated with time. The wooden boards are really weathered. It makes sense b/c they must be well over 20 years old by now! Unfortunately the wood is clearly past its intended lifespan. It needs to be replaced, but there are no plans to do so.

If my memory serves there are not any with private river front but if there are you might not want to lose that. I do think it will be good for the area which helps all of the property owners.

I think there is the Red Cross, The Cummer, two properties owned by the Jax Women's Club, one private condo, and then condos with a public street inbetween them and the river. Don't hold me to that though.

The one private condo is really the only barrier (although the Cummer didn't exactly guarantee their support, they just said that they were open to the idea). I know exactly why that condo opposes the Riverwalk expansion too - I've been inside the building. If they extend the riverwalk, their pool would only be separated by a short wall. Their "private" space would become virtually public.

Of course, at the end of the day, I'm not sure they have the legal right to oppose an extension. They don't own the river, nor the right to build over it. However, the city council has been bullied into inaction over less before.

ProjectMaximus

January 13, 2009, 11:27:31 PM
The one private condo is really the only barrier (although the Cummer didn't exactly guarantee their support, they just said that they were open to the idea). I know exactly why that condo opposes the Riverwalk expansion too - I've been inside the building. If they extend the riverwalk, their pool would only be separated by a short wall. Their "private" space would become virtually public.

What's the name of this condo?

Joe

January 14, 2009, 12:04:20 AM
I don't remember. It's between Lomax and Lancaster Streets ... on the river, obviously.

Lunican

January 14, 2009, 08:35:49 AM
Here is an article from 2006:

Quote
Riverwalk roadblock

Condo residents say the mayor's plan for an extension will come with noise and trash

The Northbank Riverwalk was heralded by some visitors during the 2005 Super Bowl as one of Jacksonville's best assets.

But residents of at least one Riverside condominium oppose a plan to expand the walkway along their backyard.

http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/070806/met_22287510.shtml



thelakelander

January 14, 2009, 09:26:32 AM
All you need is some one like Charleston's mayor to drive quality of life improvements like this through the heart of the NIMBYs.  Hopefully, we'll get a progressive vision oriented administration in a couple of years.

Doctor_K

January 14, 2009, 09:33:38 AM
^ You runnin'? ;)

hillary supporter

January 14, 2009, 10:10:08 AM
oooohhhhh, thats a great idea, lakelander!!!!! You should run for mayor. really

deathstar

January 14, 2009, 11:06:20 AM
Lakelander > the John's (Delaney, Peyton)

I wonder how much the operator for the rail on the river makes an hour. Hope he's got a TV, a newspaper, or a radio to keep him occupied!

ProjectMaximus

January 14, 2009, 12:21:11 PM
Ah, thanks Joe and Lunican.

jtwestside

January 14, 2009, 01:09:10 PM
Quote
All you need is some one like Charleston's mayor to drive quality of life improvements like this through the heart of the NIMBYs.  Hopefully, we'll get a progressive vision oriented administration in a couple of years.

I could get behind that.

thelakelander

January 14, 2009, 01:10:46 PM
LOL!

hillary supporter

January 14, 2009, 01:31:17 PM
my mothers heavily involved in the duval demos, see actually went to denver. nows the time to start this, we should do it, at least try early stages. im in on this, we have enough unity in this blog itself to take it a few steps!

Doctor_K

January 14, 2009, 03:36:26 PM
"The Lakelander - for a Change"

or

"Lakelander - a Bold new Direction for Jacksonville"

ProjectMaximus

January 19, 2009, 03:15:20 PM
Would he really run under the pseudonym of The Lakelander?

Doctor_K

January 19, 2009, 03:52:29 PM
Well no, I'd think not.  But substituting his real name would be simple enough.  Although he could change his nickname here to "The Jacksonviller" or something.  :D

GatorShane

January 19, 2009, 04:00:50 PM
How incredible would it be if we were able  to go from Memorial Park to Metro Park with all of the things to see along the way(Memorial Park, Womans Club, The Cummer, The new artist market, The Landing,eventually the Shipyards,and Metro Park.

deathstar

October 15, 2011, 02:38:27 AM
I'm not big on bumping posts, but there's construction on going with the riverwalk right now. Not sure if anyone else has posted about it or not.

The bulkhead has been tore up near the docks right after the I-95 overpass. There was orange mesh separating anyone from walking down to the water and falling in. From what I heard, it was sinking and needed to be fixed. I don't know if it's been fixed as of yet, as this was last Saturday morning that I was down there.

Next time I'm down there, I'll snap some pictures with my iPhone and post 'em here.

Jdog

October 15, 2011, 07:15:42 AM
How incredible would it be if we were able  to go from Memorial Park to Metro Park with all of the things to see along the way(Memorial Park, Womans Club, The Cummer, The new artist market, The Landing,eventually the Shipyards,and Metro Park.


+ 1000

It would be awesome -- ideal. 
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