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Lost Jacksonville: The Jacksonville Shipyards

Formerly referred to as the epicenter of the "Billion Dollar Mile", the shipyards has become known as a place of dead urban development dreams. Before it was a vacant waterfont parcel, the site was the home of one of Jacksonville's largest companies for more than a century.

Published November 3, 2009 in History      44 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


feature

Merrill-Stevens/Jacksonville Shipyards Site Timeline:

1850s - Jacob Brock opens Jacksonville's first shipyard off Bay Street.

1877 - Shipyard sold to Alonzo Stevens after Brock's death.

1887 - Stevens joins James Eugene and Alexander Merrill to form Merrill-Stevens Engineering Company.

1901 - The Great Fire of 1901 destroys the shipyard.

1902 - 1914 - Site used to build barges used in the construction of the Panama Canal.



Jacob Brock's shipyard off Bay Street


From left to right: A. Stevens, James Eugene and Alexander Merrill


Inside the machine shop of Brock's shipyard in the 1800s.


Merrill-Stevens Engineering Company in 1895.


Shortly before the Great Fire of 1901.


An image taken in 1903.


1906 - Shipyard is rebuilt and includes the largest dry dock between Newport News and New Orleans.  The company is renamed Merrill-Stevens Co.

1918 - Merrill-Stevens employs 1,500.  A description of the Bay Street shipyard from the United States shipping board emergency fleet corporation hearings in 1918.

Quote
The Merrill-Stevens Company now have two yards.  The old yard is in Jacksonville proper, right on Bay Street, that is where they repair ships.  They have a floating dock that lifts 4,500 tons; they have a marine railway; and they have three very ingenious electric hoists, the biggest of which could lift 270 tons.

In that yard they were also building a number of small ships, the biggest one being for the Gulf & Southern Co., a very complete ship, all steel.  They build barges and ferryboats.
United States shipping board emergency fleet corporation: Hearings

1916 - Shipyards renamed Merrill-Stevens Dry Dock & Repair Company after WWI.

1950s - Shipyards sold to Aerojet and Merrill-Stevens relocates to Miami, where they still are in operation today.

1960 - W.R. Lovett purchases the shipyard and it becomes known as Rawls Brothers Shipyard.

1960 - At the time of Lovett's purchase, the shipyards employs 700.

1963 - W.R. Lovett renames the company the Jacksonville Shipyards, Inc. (JSI).



















James Eugene and Alexander Merrill and wives.




1968 - The 23,000 ton SS Constitution is overhauled at JSI becoming the largest passenger ship, at the time, to ever visit Jacksonville. 26 feet had to be removed from the ship's mast to fit it under the Matthews and Hart Bridges at low tide.

1969 - Fruehauf Corporation purchases JSI.

1973 - JSI employees 2,500 workers.

1977 - JSI is Jacksonville's largest civilian employer.

1980s - The shipyards begin to lose money for a string of consecutive years.



















1989 - Winsconsin based Terex Corporation acquires Fruehauf.  Terex, a road construction equipment manufacturer, announces that it will attempt to sell JSI.  If there are no buyers, the shipyards will be closed.

1990 - Terex closes the shipyards, laying off 800 workers.

1990 - Terex reopens the shipyards after secret negotiations with the worker's union.

1991 - The Jacksonville Shipyards (JSI) employs 525 people.

1991 - Terex sells JSI's large dry docks for $28.8 million to Bahrain's Arab Shipbuilding & Repair Yard Company. Used to lift large ships out of water, the dry docks were the shipyard's primary revenue earners.

1992 - Without the dry docks, JSI closes for good putting 200 employees out of work.



A waterside view of one of the dry docks Terex let go.



1994 - The Satulah Group submits a proposal to turn the shipyards into a marine park and marketplace.

1995 - Jacksonville Riverfront Development Inc. purchases the shipyards.  The corporation is a partnership between the Satulah Group and San Francisco developer John Hanan.

Late 1990s - Shipyards buildings converted into the River City Music Sheds, a place for concerts and special events.

1999 - Trilegacy Group, LLC. purchases shipyards site with the intention to build warehousing facilities.

2001 - After being convinced by Mayor John Delaney, Trilegacy plan changes to a major mixed-used development that will include 662 residential units, 100,000 square feet of retail, 1 million square feet of office space, a 350-unit hotel, a 150-slip marina and a 16.8 acre park at buildout.  The remaining shipyards industrial buildings, known as the River City Music Sheds, are demolished in anticipation for this development.

2005 - After Trilegacy fiasco, LandMar takes over shipyards with plans for a massive mixed-use development.

2009 - Ripped to shreads by the economy, LandMar files for bankruptcy and the city proceeds to foreclose on the site.


LandMar Shipyards project renderings











Looking towards the shipyards site today.


The Shipyards site in July 2008.




2009 - Mayor John Peyton announces his intention to decide on a plan for the site's future before he leaves office in 2011.

Source: Jacksonville Public Library Special Collections Department vertical files

Images by the State of Florida Archives

Article by Ennis Davis







44 Comments

BridgeTroll

November 03, 2009, 07:04:35 AM
Nice article and pics...

fsu813

November 03, 2009, 07:07:50 AM
well.




at least the sidewalk is built.

mtraininjax

November 03, 2009, 07:56:40 AM
Great article and pictures!

civil42806

November 03, 2009, 08:11:49 AM
Nice article and even better pictures, but what does this have to do with SPAR or rail?

DarkEye

November 03, 2009, 08:12:53 AM
My dad worked for JSI from 1968-1990.  He worked at the Mayport office.  After 22 years one morning he was given his pink slip and told to go home.

I worked at the data center downtown for a few months in the summer 1985.

Overstreet

November 03, 2009, 08:56:37 AM
Sooner or later something will be there.

heights unknown

November 03, 2009, 09:09:03 AM
Probably more later than sooner.  Just shows how indecisive our City is in just about everything.  We shall see (I hope).

Heights Unknown

jeh1980

November 03, 2009, 10:02:25 AM
It's not the city's fault that this shipyards land is empty. Maybe perhaps Donald Trump may one day have an interest on that land and make it better for the city!

Dog Walker

November 03, 2009, 10:20:36 AM
Aside from the military contracts, there is no shipbuilding industry left in the United States anywhere.  The fancy cruise ships and ferries are built in Finland, Germany, and Italy.  The freighters and tankers are built in Korea or Taiwan.  High speed ferries are built in Australia and New Zealand.  We didn't lose this industry in this country due to lower wages in other places, but for some other reasons.

During WWII, both sides of the river near downtown were turning out ships around the clock.  Jacksonville was a major center for the building of Liberty ships.  Bishop Kenny High School and Church of the Assumption are built on an old ship building site.

Something will be built on that site on the river.  Waterfront sites eventually get developed, but usually only after a good deal of controversy and false starts.  Queen's Harbour in Toronto and Canary Wharf in London come to mind.

thelakelander

November 03, 2009, 10:33:41 AM
Btw, Merrill Stevens is still in existance today.  They have a large yacht building facility on the Miami River.



http://www.merrillstevens.com/

Dog Walker

November 03, 2009, 10:44:50 AM
That yacht in the picture may have been at the Merrill-Stevens yard for repairs, but it was not built there.  It is a Feadship and they are built in Holland.

The Gallant Lady, the JM Enterprises yacht, that has been in Jax for the past week or so for the game is also a Feadship.

stjr

November 03, 2009, 10:45:11 AM
The shipyards and JEA sites should be considered for public riverfront megasites - big event gathering areas, esplanade, ball fields for future kids (and the young-at-heart adults) living downtown, to preserve river access and show off our greatest asset to maximum effect, etc.  If Mayor Peyton did this, it would be his greatest legacy bar none.  A great way to go out with a bang!

See more on this at:
"Proposed Super Bowl Legacy: Downtown Gathering & Event Mega-Site"
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/forum/index.php/topic,4434.0.html

sandyshoes

November 03, 2009, 11:08:13 AM
Very nice article and pix...I can't get enough of these looks into Jax's past. 

fsu813

November 03, 2009, 11:12:32 AM
You would like Wayne Wood's book then:

http://www.jaxhistory.com/Book-page-photography.html

and probably many others at this page:

http://www.jaxhistory.com/JHS-Bookstore.html#Family

AaroniusLives

November 03, 2009, 11:45:31 AM
I worked on the advertising for LandMar's Shipyards development, and it was quite a plan they had going there. From their perspective, they were going to use their expertise in "experiential" development to create this mixed-use, semi-public/semi-private community.

http://amgordonwriter.info/uploads/ShipyardsThisChangesEverything.jpg

There was two problems with the plan as we saw it. In the first place, there's not really a large amount of pent-up demand for urban living in Downtown Jax...so we'd all have to create that demand. The next problem is obvious: downtown Jacksonville is full of empty plots of land...and isn't really a "downtown" area. There's just not enough critical mass in the core. While Shipards would have perhaps added some retail and residential to that depressed core...we were also selling a cosmopolitan lifestyle in a vibrant downtown that really didn't exist (or, at least, hasn't existed in Jacksonville since the 1950s.)

I've been exploring this site for the past two days, and it's pretty cool. I'm a former Miamian myself, so it's nice to see some interesting perspectives on a region even more screwed up than South Florida. Some interesting observations:
1. The mistake regarding your downtown is in wanting higher, taller buildings (indeed: it's the mistake made by the landowners jacking up the price and the "skyscrapercity.com" folk.) I currently live in DC, where there's nary a high-rise...but tons of real, urban life. And trees! I have nothing against the skyscraper, but many of them are not pedestrian or street friendly. Heck, I lived in Atlanta (where I worked on Shipyards,) in a 50 story building that required me to drive everywhere.

2. The reason South Florida is so dense involves geography, not a "desire for urbanity." Mass transit in every city south of DC sucks. Miami's especially sucks, is especially broke, and is run by especially corrupt people who have stole billions from the public till. Plus, it goes nowhere you want it to go and not in style. So, while Miami may have verticality and may be adopting some great urban principles (finally,) it's because they are 'done' with the build out of land...they have no choice BUT to build up...

3. ...this ties into my JAX moment. Use the DC model, which is a variation of the Paris model. It doesn't have to be vertical to be downtown. It has to be livable and beautiful. Instead of trying to get 5000 people to live in 8 high-rises while the rest of downtown looks like a moonscape, get them to move into a series of city blocks no more than 6 stories tall. The moonscape vanishes and the streets flourish.

4. In my meetings with LandMar, I noticed a very odd thing about Jacksonville...it's essentially this large place that's empty. Having moved from Miami to Tampa to Fort Lauderdale to Atlanta and DC, I was always struck by the "overbuilt" aspect of Jacksonville. A skyway to nowhere. A massive airport nowhere near capacity. A downtown festival marketplace twice the size of Miami's Bayside and always 1/4 as full. Outside of the core: malls with tons of space and not tons of people. I'm sure this is changing dramatically fast with your high population growth rate...but remember, you have tons of land and a market demanding suburban-style living. Before they over-run Duval and the counties that make up your MSA, you have to convince them that there's another alternative that doesn't look like NYC. Use DC as the model and densify horizontally.

thelakelander

November 03, 2009, 11:52:21 AM
That yacht in the picture may have been at the Merrill-Stevens yard for repairs, but it was not built there.  It is a Feadship and they are built in Holland.

The Gallant Lady, the JM Enterprises yacht, that has been in Jax for the past week or so for the game is also a Feadship.

I just yanked a photo off the web.  However, they do build and repair yachts in Miami.

fsu813

November 03, 2009, 11:54:27 AM
oh, densifying horizontally is not the problem. noone is rushing to build skyscrapers here. it's that the densifying is happening on Gate Parkway instead of Downtown.

thelakelander

November 03, 2009, 12:02:55 PM
I worked on the advertising for LandMar's Shipyards development, and it was quite a plan they had going there. From their perspective, they were going to use their expertise in "experiential" development to create this mixed-use, semi-public/semi-private community.

http://amgordonwriter.info/uploads/ShipyardsThisChangesEverything.jpg

There was two problems with the plan as we saw it. In the first place, there's not really a large amount of pent-up demand for urban living in Downtown Jax...so we'd all have to create that demand. The next problem is obvious: downtown Jacksonville is full of empty plots of land...and isn't really a "downtown" area. There's just not enough critical mass in the core. While Shipards would have perhaps added some retail and residential to that depressed core...we were also selling a cosmopolitan lifestyle in a vibrant downtown that really didn't exist (or, at least, hasn't existed in Jacksonville since the 1950s.)

I thought LandMar's and the city's focus on downtown living was off too.  The demand for urban living isn't luxury, its market rate.  The path to downtown vibrancy should be making the place more attractive to urban pioneers to add culture and life to the city.  When it is a vibrant place, the luxury market will come on its own.

Quote
4. In my meetings with LandMar, I noticed a very odd thing about Jacksonville...it's essentially this large place that's empty. Having moved from Miami to Tampa to Fort Lauderdale to Atlanta and DC, I was always struck by the "overbuilt" aspect of Jacksonville. A skyway to nowhere. A massive airport nowhere near capacity. A downtown festival marketplace twice the size of Miami's Bayside and always 1/4 as full. Outside of the core: malls with tons of space and not tons of people. I'm sure this is changing dramatically fast with your high population growth rate...but remember, you have tons of land and a market demanding suburban-style living. Before they over-run Duval and the counties that make up your MSA, you have to convince them that there's another alternative that doesn't look like NYC. Use DC as the model and densify horizontally.

Good advice!

stjr

November 03, 2009, 12:40:01 PM

3. ...this ties into my JAX moment. Use the DC model, which is a variation of the Paris model. It doesn't have to be vertical to be downtown. It has to be livable and beautiful. Instead of trying to get 5000 people to live in 8 high-rises while the rest of downtown looks like a moonscape, get them to move into a series of city blocks no more than 6 stories tall. The moonscape vanishes and the streets flourish.

... you have to convince them that there's another alternative that doesn't look like NYC. Use DC as the model and densify horizontally.

AaroniusLives, welcome.  Your post is timely as I just started a thread in this vain on MJ yesterday titled  "Top 10 Things to Make DOWN-town a BOOM-town"  at: http://www.metrojacksonville.com/forum/index.php/topic,6638.0.html .

I think you will find most of my suggestions are in the spirit of your recommendations, i.e making people WANT to live downtown because it has the livability amenities they are looking for.  Much of this is the little things that make life convenient such as recreation areas, an assortment of everyday stores and services (drug store, grocery store, cleaners, car repair, gas station, beauty and barber shops, schools, doctor offices, etc.), schools, and ease and reliability of movement (such as great sidewalks, street cars, and buses).

With our continuing lack of retail frontage, there aren't many opportunities for these places.  Such retail spaces need to be incorporated into larger buildings serving other purposes due to the value of the land.  It's sickening to see how many parking garages we have with little or no ground level retail.  Nor do many of our high rises.  This becomes a chicken and egg issue.

We also need wide open play areas and schools for families to move downtown.  No kid is going to be happy with out a playing field to run around on or do Little League.  Using the Shipyards property would even give families a fishing pier.  Won't find that in most suburban communities!  Neighborhood schools would be a master stroke.  Families would do much to live within a short distance of a quality school wherever it's located.  This alone could attract hundreds of families downtown.  The school playgrounds could double as neighborhood playgrounds as well.

I did push for policies making high rise residential living more appealing versus urban sprawl developments but, perhaps, what I should have said was to make high DENSITY housing downtown more appealing.  Aside from that, I think we may be on the same page.  Take a look and add your comments.  Thanks again.

Dog Walker

November 03, 2009, 03:03:46 PM
Ashville, North Carolina, although much smaller than Jax, is a good example of "low rise" downtown revitalization.  There are dozens of two and three story buildings with lots of small restaurants, bars, dry cleaners, boutiques, galleries, shoe repair shops, etc.etc. with lofts, condos and apartments above them.  There is life on the streets almost 24/7.

It doesn't take thirty story towers to make a vibrant downtown.

stjr

November 03, 2009, 03:10:18 PM
Ashville, North Carolina, although much smaller than Jax, is a good example of "low rise" downtown revitalization.  There are dozens of two and three story buildings with lots of small restaurants, bars, dry cleaners, boutiques, galleries, shoe repair shops, etc.etc. with lofts, condos and apartments above them.  There is life on the streets almost 24/7.

It doesn't take thirty story towers to make a vibrant downtown.

See also most of Charleston and Savannah and a good part of New Orleans.

Dan B

November 03, 2009, 03:14:07 PM
Very few cities have more than a few sky scrapers. I would love to see new scrapers going up, but I would rather see our broken tooth smile of a downtown filled in with 2 and 3 story buildings.

Right now between the Shell Station and the bridge, there is only one place with a door facing Main Street. I would like to see that change too.

billy

November 03, 2009, 03:16:13 PM
An enormous opportunity was wasted with the wholesale clearing of La Villa, not to mention Brooklyn.
Many of these buildings would have been perfect small scale candidates for reuse, and would have provided redevelopment connectivity between Riverside and Downtown.

stephendare

November 03, 2009, 03:18:03 PM
no doubt billy.

Sadly this is the outcome when the only people whose opinions matter are big developers.

Im sure they were all torn down on a case by case basis though.

thelakelander

November 03, 2009, 03:36:00 PM
Not LaVilla.  It was a coordinated demolition derby and one that Jax should be ashamed of.

stephendare

November 03, 2009, 03:55:54 PM
Not LaVilla.  It was a coordinated demolition derby and one that Jax should be ashamed of.

the statement was obviously facetious ;)

Ocklawaha

November 03, 2009, 05:10:22 PM
Nice article and even better pictures, but what does this have to do with SPAR or rail?

Absolutely Nothing! Right!

WRONG!

When the Fernandina and Jacksonville railroad was opened from Yulee - Oceanway - Springfield - Jacksonville, after the War of Yankee Aggression, they established extensive terminals, docks on the River, and a railroad station about where Maxwell House sits today.



The F&J was purchased by the Seaboard Air Line RR, after they built across the state line near Kingsland, connecting with the Florida Central and Peninsular RR, at Yulee for Callahan - Baldwin - Gainesville - Cedar Key, as well as a new "branchline," to a tiny bayside town called Tampa. The FC&P also had owned through a purchase of it's own, the railroad from Jacksonville - Baldwin - Lake City - Tallahassee - River Junction. One of the first orders of business, to consolidate the new and far flung Seaboard Routes, was to create a connection within Jacksonville between the former F&J and the Jacksonville - Baldwin mainline. By 1894 Seaboard was in firm control of Jacksonville's Railroading, the segments were later merged into the parent company in 1903.

The "S" line is a direct result of the mergers and the widely separated segments between Springfield and Jacksonville Union Station, which by the late 90's was already one of the busier terminals in America. Taking the "S" from Springfield, roughly alongside 20Th Street to Moncrief Road, and hence South into the Station was a master stroke. North of Springfield, past the old Imeson Air Base/Airport, Oceanway, Fernandina and all the way to Richmondl, the Seaboard anchored an Empire on the little railroad to the docks.



In 1897, the Atlantic, Valdosta and Western Railroad was chartered as a short - line between Valdosta and the Port of Jacksonville. The "S" effectively blocked the newbie from Port Access, and it wasn't highly likely they would be let in around the foot of Broad Street either. In 1902, the property was merged with several other lines to form the Georgia, Southern and Florida RR. This company then spun off a privately held shortline from it's yard in Grand Crossing, directly into Springfield, ending up at the Seaboards old F&J line, right where their "S" Line joined. Called the St. Johns River Terminal Railroad, the new railroad finally got across the Seaboards tracks.

In those wild days of railroading, like a game of chess, many a railroad would build just to block the other player. There were two ways around this, they could go to the State and plead their case, which usually ended up in the hands of a court friendly to the oldest and most moneyed carrier. The other was to reach the crossing, file the paperwork, then in the dead of night, throw down the needed crossing before sunrise. A loophole in the law allowed the railroad domain, once it was on the ground. Thus the G.S.& F. was safely able to enter the terminals, mills and warehousing of today's Talleyrand Docks area. They also split off a branch which cleverly followed the old F&J, only 50' to the west, from Springfield to the St. Johns River. Seaboard was something of a block bully and they were beaten at their own game. When in a short time the G.S & F. sold out to the Southern Ry., from the Maxwell House area they had almost exclusive access to the downtown docks.



When the Shipyards went up and in the Great War and World War II, both railroads were well positioned to take care of Jacksonville Ship building and repair. We launched around 100 large ships during WWII, and hundreds more landing craft, (at Huckins Yacht on the Ortega River). These railroads survived into the modern era of NS and CSX, and the last rails didn't come up until the industry was gone.

But perhaps that's not the end of our story Civil, consider that these two companies left us track and right-of-ways, ready made for Light Rail, from Bay or Beaver St. to Springfield, Gateway Mall, Shand's, Oceanway, Yulee, Kingsland.

YOU ASKED FOR IT!


OCKLAWAHA

Ocklawaha

November 03, 2009, 05:16:15 PM
Not LaVilla.  It was a coordinated demolition derby and one that Jax should be ashamed of.

the statement was obviously facetious ;)

Sadly, in terms of historic PRE-FIRE fabric, the destruction of Fairfield, was probably even worse!

OCKLAWAHA

stjr

November 03, 2009, 05:27:00 PM
Nice article and even better pictures, but what does this have to do with SPAR or rail?

Civil, you just had to ask?!!  :D

mtraininjax

November 03, 2009, 05:59:10 PM
I love riding by FL 2 alongside the GS&F. Its a cool ride.

JaxNative68

November 04, 2009, 01:50:26 PM
how many millions of taxpayer dollars has the city pissed away on the shipyards site in the last 10 years.  If my count is right it is about 8, and we have nothing to show for it.

blizz01

April 07, 2010, 01:03:45 PM
Here's the latest from The Daily Record - not sure if this is the best solution, but I do like who's involved:
Carter envisions entertainment park at Shipyards Downtown
Quote
Developer Ben Carter told the Daily Record on Monday that he is talking with Mayor John Peyton about the possibility of developing an entertainment center at the Shipyards property downtown.
Carter, developer of the St. Johns Town Center, said he envisions a wave pool, carousel, ferris wheel, roller coaster, restaurants, arts and seafood markets and other family-friendly attractions on the 40 riverfront acres along East Bay Street.
“I am just sharing with the mayor what I think will work,” said Carter.
Peyton spokesperson Misty Skipper said Tuesday that Carter has shared with Peyton his visions of spurring Downtown development. However, she said nothing could be planned until the City took ownership of the property.
The Shipyards property is wrapped up in bankruptcy proceedings. The City expects to take ownership once the proceedings conclude.
“Obviously he is an expert in retail development, but at this point, we don’t even own the property. But it is part of a conversation we have been having.” said Skipper. “We expect to get that property, but when that occurs, we don’t know yet.”
In a roundtable interview with Daily Record reporters, Carter estimated the development would cost $20 million. He said he did not want to own the property.
Carter is based in Atlanta and lives part-time in the Jacksonville area, he said. He chaired the Retail Task Force that contributed to the City’s 2007 Downtown Action Plan.
He said he has been talking with Peyton to share ideas.
“I have been in talks with him and I came down and volunteered. I said, I did this task force and am half-retired. I love the area. I volunteered to start sharing some ideas with him to see if I can help,” he said.
Carter said downtown development depends on demographics, such as attracting young professionals and families.
He referred to the Wave Waterpark near San Diego and the Celebrations restaurant and club center in Myrtle Beach, S.C., as examples of what might work.
“They are little mini amusement parks with retail and restaurants. It’s really pretty cool,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to be more than $20 million, but you get a lot of bang for your buck.”
Skipper said the City doesn’t have funding to move forward now, “but it is important to look at opportunities in the future.”
http://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/showstory.php?Story_id=530697

JeffreyS

April 07, 2010, 01:07:19 PM
My first thought is great.

tufsu1

April 07, 2010, 01:22:13 PM
really?

The Wave Waterpark near San Diego is all the way in Vista, CA (north county)....at least 35 miles from downtown.

Now there is another roller coaster-type attarction on Mission Beach...but that is still over 6 miles from downtown!

JeffreyS

April 07, 2010, 01:31:57 PM
If you visit for an NFL game it might keep you downtown.

reednavy

April 07, 2010, 01:32:16 PM
I'm definetly not getting my hopes up on this, considering his largest development is stalled in Buckhead right now.

JeffreyS

April 07, 2010, 02:07:42 PM
One more thing to make the skyway attractive on Bay.

stjr

April 07, 2010, 07:47:44 PM
One more thing to make the skyway attractive on Bay.

I thought the $ky-high-way was an amusement ride!  You mean it isn't?  ;D


Quote
Carter, developer of the St. Johns Town Center, said he envisions a wave pool, carousel, ferris wheel, roller coaster, restaurants, arts and seafood markets and other family-friendly attractions on the 40 riverfront acres along East Bay Street.

This idea is not foolproof.  NYC's Coney Island is gone.  Jax had Dixie Land (funny, how old ideas circle back around, huh?) and Jax Beach had a similar arrangement on its boardwalk decades ago and all are long ago history.  Not saying it shouldn't be considered, but proceed with caution.

strider

April 07, 2010, 07:51:00 PM
If you visit for an NFL game it might keep you downtown.

Actually, thanks to the way they handle the traffic during games, people might be able to say, "Hey, that looks cool!" as they get directed right on by it.

cellmaker

October 14, 2011, 06:02:58 PM
@AaroniusLives, I concur with much of what you're saying.

I also live in DC, having grown up in Southside and Orange Park.  I'm not sure how Jax got lured into equating tall buildings with urban living, but clearly one is not necessary for the other, and as you pointed out, in this case it works against the goal.  DC seems to have almost the perfect density that allows for walkable neighborhoods with retail and commercial, and there's nothing in the city over about 13 stories.

Car dependence is a killer.  If you look at an aerial view of Jax, it just looks like a bunch of parking lots.  Death for a quality urban fabric.  Check out Kunstler's Home from Nowhere (http://www.amazon.com/Home-Nowhere-Remaking-Everyday-Century/dp/0684837374), which gets specific about what makes for a great built environment.

Building "amusement parks" downtown also is just an amateurish way of going about things.  The idea that the guy who developed the St. Johns Town Center, which is nothing but an outdoor mall you drive to, knows anything about building an urbanscape is ludicrous.  Wave pools, if needed at all, come after you have grocery stores and dry cleaners and restaurants and clothing stores, not before.

My only real beef with your post is about the Skyway.  It suffers from not going anywhere, true, but what it needs is expansion, not demolition.  The low-rise neighborhoods of San Marco and Five Points would be great tie-ins with the skyway.  (I finally took it when I was home visiting family earlier this year and thought it was pretty great.  I just wanted to take it to Riverside.)  Also, it should continue north into Springfield, tying in with the Hospital complex on 8th. 

Basically, Jax lacks vision and guts.  What a beautiful river.  What a great beach.  What nice people.  What a joke of a city.  Shame, that, because it could be a fantastic place.

MusicMan

October 14, 2011, 10:26:49 PM
Great post. The last two or three sentences really hit the nail on the head. I would add that if this city ever fulfills it's potential it will be because someone from out of town made it happen. The "good old boy" network had it's shot and they blew it.

Noone

October 15, 2011, 03:13:42 AM
Great post. The last two or three sentences really hit the nail on the head. I would add that if this city ever fulfills it's potential it will be because someone from out of town made it happen. The "good old boy" network had it's shot and they blew it.

I agree. Anyone going to the USS Adams fundraiser tonight? I hope they are successful and raise 20+ million for the project but this could be the next piece of the puzzle for the Jacksonville Shipyards. 2010-675 and just one amendment.

The new park, flex space, entertainment district, special events area, DIA, DDA, DEA, whatever new Authority zone area that has yet to be created before or after redistricting and voted on by city council will they keep the Promised 680' Downtown Public Pier outside the total govt. control that is attempting to be created. I hope so.

Lost Jacksonville:
FIND Jacksonville: Florida Inland Navigation District

AaroniusLives

November 28, 2011, 05:21:23 PM
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@AaroniusLives, I concur with much of what you're saying.

I also live in DC, having grown up in Southside and Orange Park.  I'm not sure how Jax got lured into equating tall buildings with urban living, but clearly one is not necessary for the other, and as you pointed out, in this case it works against the goal.  DC seems to have almost the perfect density that allows for walkable neighborhoods with retail and commercial, and there's nothing in the city over about 13 stories.

Car dependence is a killer.  If you look at an aerial view of Jax, it just looks like a bunch of parking lots.  Death for a quality urban fabric.  Check out Kunstler's Home from Nowhere (http://www.amazon.com/Home-Nowhere-Remaking-Everyday-Century/dp/0684837374), which gets specific about what makes for a great built environment.

Building "amusement parks" downtown also is just an amateurish way of going about things.  The idea that the guy who developed the St. Johns Town Center, which is nothing but an outdoor mall you drive to, knows anything about building an urbanscape is ludicrous.  Wave pools, if needed at all, come after you have grocery stores and dry cleaners and restaurants and clothing stores, not before.

My only real beef with your post is about the Skyway.  It suffers from not going anywhere, true, but what it needs is expansion, not demolition.  The low-rise neighborhoods of San Marco and Five Points would be great tie-ins with the skyway.  (I finally took it when I was home visiting family earlier this year and thought it was pretty great.  I just wanted to take it to Riverside.)  Also, it should continue north into Springfield, tying in with the Hospital complex on 8th. 

Basically, Jax lacks vision and guts.  What a beautiful river.  What a great beach.  What nice people.  What a joke of a city.  Shame, that, because it could be a fantastic place.

Cellmaker, I just took a job in Baltimore, so in March, I'm moving over to this side of the megapolis.

Baltimore is a great example of both what to do and what not to do regarding downtown redevelopment. The Inner Harbor, which is essentially a collection of amusement activities (many cultural, to be fair,) is awesome for the city...to a degree. It encouraged high wealth to gentrify the areas surrounding the Inner Harbor, and it encouraged both the preservation and the redevelopment of those adjacent areas, like Fells Point, Canton, and Federal Hill. It also, quite possibly, made the 'flip' happen along the .5 mile from the water back, with the development of Harbor East.

But...Baltimore also built a ton of skyscrapers/high rises over the last forty years, because "skyscraper=city," which helped to hollow out the rest of the city, and has resulted in a downtown with a lot of vacant office space. (There are other factors at work here, including racism, ridiculous taxes, entrenched corruption, etc.) However, what Baltimore does right is that they actively restore and re-use their historical buildings, even old office buildings get re-used as apartments or condos. So while Baltimore's businesses move away to the 'burbs, and while the poor die-off/get shot, leaving less population, the new population moving in has more money, more 'urbanism' and more interest in creating a new city.

Truth be told, I'm actually wary of moving to Baltimore City. I think there's like 10 years of vomiting out the crack before it comes back (it might be the ONLY city in the world where gays can't flip a 'hood.) So I might move to Baltimore County. But, even there, it's pretty historically minded, pretty focused on transit, and just pretty damned pretty, all around. In a lot of ways, Jacksonville is hampered by it's hybrid status, as a old, industrial city and a new, FloriDUHHH city. If Jacksonville were located in the Northeast, a lot of it's old factories, silos, buildings and the rest would have been redeveloped into lofts, shops and the rest. But, because it's also a FloriDUHH city, there's a penchant to just mow it all over and put up a Wal-Mart (how South Beach escaped that fate is a wonder for the ages.) And thus, so much historical fabric in Jax is gone or neglected. Sad. (There's also something to the absurd need for Jax to be 'the biggest city in Florida,' and thus, there's a lot of oversized development for the MSA. Minneapolis is the same way: lots of stuff that's too big for the metro area, and thus, it feels quite 'Walking Dead.')

As for the Skyway, I have nothing against the transit in and of itself. And I used to take Miami's version of this to my magnet high school back in the day. But there are much more cost-effective ways/still premium ways to create the service that the Skyway provides. Tampa's TECO streetcar is MUCH less expensive to operate, build and run, for example. Baltimore's light rail might be another example. Calling on Miami's Metromover again, it took them a decade to get the ridership they have now. It cost something like $600 million (to expand it, so that doesn't include the original line.) And Miami also had Manny Suarez as the mayor, and actual visionary who cut the red tape in order to get something like 80,000 units of housing built downtown. Plus, it's free. BUT...it's still not cost-effective. Miami is STILL contemplating building light rail and/or streetcars in lieu of expanding the Metromover, because airport peoplemovers in a real-work environment are damned expensive! 

tufsu1

November 28, 2011, 08:20:51 PM
There are plenty of very nice (and progressive) neighborhoods in Baltimore...in fact, unless I was looking at predominantly single family neighboroods, I'd choose to live in Baltimore City over DC itself.
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