Downtown Jacksonville struggles with the Basics

March 31, 2010 31 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Over the years, Metro Jacksonville has lobbied for simple downtown improvements such as wayfinding signage and improved public parking. These changes are slowly making their way to the streets of downtown, however some minor but important details have been overlooked.

Downtown Parking Signage

The Good: The city finally installed parking signs that extend from the side of garages (see Metro Jacksonville's Laura Street Proposal from 2006

Illuminated signs that have the capability to display "Open" and "Full" were installed recently on the Ed Ball Building and Water Street Garage

The Bad: The city managed to make the Ed Ball entrance extremely confusing, by having contradictory information on the entrance to the garage.

The top picture displays the hourly parking rates, while the bottom picture shows the "Monthly Cardholders Only" warning.

The Fix: Metro Jacksonville believes that the city is in the process of allowing hourly parking at the Ed Ball Building. However, we need to remember that with downtown visitors, we only have one chance to make a first impression. The city should not have installed the exterior sign or the hourly rates without removing the "Monthly Cardholders Only" sign. This is part of making downtown friendly for the end user.

Downtown Wayfinding Signage

The Good: The City has begun to install wayfinding signage downtown, something else that Metro Jacksonville has pushed for since 2005.

The Bad: The sign is incorrect.  This photo was taken on Forsyth Street, as you are heading east from Laura to Main.  From there, the Florida Theatre is two blocks straight ahead on the right.  However, the sign tells the driver to make a right at the next street, which in this case is Main Street.  Following this sign will take a motorist over the Main Street Bridge, to the Southbank and on to I-95.

The Fix: Fix the sign. There is no excuse for brand new wayfinding signage to be so blatantly incorrect.

Downtown Retail

The Good: Perdue Office Interiors has renovated the bottom floor of the Woolworth Building (circa 1916), and turned it into their showroom.

In an interesting coincidence, the Woolworth Building was built the same year that Perdue was founded - 1916

The Bad: While Perdue has opened, across the street, Starbucks has closed as a result of a national shuttering of hundreds of stores.

The Fix: Not easy - however, it would help vacancy rates if Downtown Vision had a comprehensive list of retail spaces available for lease downtown, and provided this information on the web and in promotional material so that interested parties could have a one stop shop for retail space information.

Downtown Hotels

The Good: The Omni Jacksonville Hotel is conveniently located across from the Times-Union Center, and a half block west of the Landing. Inside the hotel is a bar that is  open until midnight or one am (depending on the night), and a nice restaurant.

The Bad: From the street, the place might as well be invisible.  There is no indication of a restaurant or a bar. The entrance in the picture below is for employees only.

The Fix: The picture below is of the entrance to the hotel on Water Street.  It is hidden because of the poor use of space.  Not only could this space be a better entrance, it could also be used for dining or afternoon cocktails, giving Water Street a sense of place.

Using this space for outdoor seating would bring life to Water Street and become a great indicator that a restaurant is nearby.