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Downtown Jacksonville struggles with the Basics

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.

Published March 31, 2010 in Urban Issues      31 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

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.







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31 Comments

Hurricane

March 31, 2010, 07:53:59 AM
Great article.  I agree with everything.  Good job with calling out both the good and the bad.  I remember when I moved here and we made our first attempt to go to the landing.  It was definitely mass confusion.  City planners need to make sure and remove all personal memory and create signage and direction as if they had never been here before.

fsujax

March 31, 2010, 08:09:46 AM
I can't believe they screwed up the wayfinding signage!

Overstreet

March 31, 2010, 09:18:00 AM
Maximum ticket for Ed Ball parking garage daily cash rate is $6.96?  Is that plus tax or not?  But wouldn't $7 be so much simplier.

Often the problem with signs is that the work order is never really properly written up. The guy installing the sign just follows the work order.

JeffreyS

March 31, 2010, 09:21:14 AM
You could have included some of the innerstate signs that have been added for the downtown exits.  These are small but important improvements that need to systematically continue.  Good job for the lobbing effort and to coj for starting to make it happen.

Miss Fixit

March 31, 2010, 10:06:55 AM
LOVE the idea of outdoor seating at OMNI Water Street entrance!

JeffreyS

March 31, 2010, 10:14:21 AM
They have had a street sign outside of the Wachovia entrance near the the proposed seating.  The sign advertises a restaurant on the tenth floor.

Captain Zissou

March 31, 2010, 10:31:32 AM
If there is outside seating in that courtyard and a restaurant that faces water street in the Landing with outside seating, that would do a great deal for the area and create a great atmosphere.  That would create some momentum for the Hogan St park between the Landing and TUPAC. 

Then if that surface lot between the Humana building and the Wachovia building gets developed, WhabaamM!! Sweet downtown area!!

TheProfessor

March 31, 2010, 10:31:51 AM
I thought the wayfinding signage would be on nicer pedestals??

Steve

March 31, 2010, 10:52:16 AM
^Honestly, I don't really care what pedestals they install that on, as long as they are correct.

thelakelander

March 31, 2010, 10:54:44 AM
They have had a street sign outside of the Wachovia entrance near the the proposed seating.  The sign advertises a restaurant on the tenth floor.

That place on the 10th floor has great peach cobbler. Btw, I just came from the Ed Ball Building.  That garage appeared to be open for public use this morning, despite the card holder's sign still being up.

aubureck

March 31, 2010, 01:30:27 PM
The Ed Ball parking garage is open to the public, it has been for a long time since a lot of contractors, etc come in to pull permits or go to the tax collector's office.  It is a shame that the conflicting signs are on there, I know it really confused me the first time I tried to go there.

finehoe

March 31, 2010, 01:32:49 PM
I thought the wayfinding signage would be on nicer pedestals??

It'd also be nice if they were more pedestrian-oriented (i.e. not so high off the ground).

devlinmann

March 31, 2010, 01:35:06 PM
a stronger group of arts presenters would aid in this effort

hanjin1

March 31, 2010, 01:49:04 PM
I use that garage whenever i go to the dentist and have never had a problem even though i'm not a card holder.

Steve

March 31, 2010, 02:05:02 PM
^That's not not the issue.  The issue is that it is unfriendly and confusing to the end user.

tufsu1

March 31, 2010, 05:25:42 PM
Maybe the wayfinding sign is correct...but it was supposed to be hung on the Florida Theatre block of Forsyth.

Lunican

March 31, 2010, 06:23:49 PM
Well then maybe they should move it.

coredumped

March 31, 2010, 07:54:52 PM
I really wish that incorrect sign was a joke. You can't tell me all the people who had a had in the sign didn't notice it was wrong. Think about it, it was someone's job to find out the best location to place a sign, and then decide what to put on it, and finally, which way to place the arrows! Simply amazing.

On another note, I'm a regular on this site and didn't know the Omni had a restaurant inside, certainly visitors to our city wouldn't know.

</rant> Good article ;)

Edit: My post sounds so negative, I want to add that I'm glad to see these changes, they're certainly a step in the right direction.

TheProfessor

March 31, 2010, 07:55:25 PM
If you see a problem with a street sign, a street light out, or any other city maintenance issue, then feel free to use your tax dollars and call 904-630-CITY...They are usually helpful to fix any problems.

CS Foltz

March 31, 2010, 08:07:52 PM
Unless it is an "alley" light in Springfield! Then there appears to be an issue..........since the city appears to be trying to discontinue those lights,maybe they have an exception to those rules?

thelakelander

March 31, 2010, 08:18:05 PM
On another note, I'm a regular on this site and didn't know the Omni had a restaurant inside, certainly visitors to our city wouldn't know.

The have a few places inside there.

Quote
Get a taste of regional Florida cuisine at our restaurant, or sip a light, refreshing cocktail at Juliette’s Lounge.  The fine dining you crave is waiting at the Omni Jacksonville Hotel.

Juliette’s Bistro
 
Our modern bistro will please your palate with fine exquisite cuisine and wines from around the globe and pamper your spirits with a wonderful ambience.  Juliette’s recently underwent a dramatic renovation and provides a striking backdrop filled with an array of “movers and shakers” enjoying breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.

J Bar

J Bar is the perfect place to soak up some local color and meld into the downtown scene at any hour.  Satisfy your appetite with small plates of progressive bistro-inspired cuisine, enjoy cocktails or savor a glass of wine.  Open every night for cocktails and light fare. Join us any time – we’re open late into the night.
http://www.omnihotels.com/FindAHotel/Jacksonville/Dining.aspx

There's also a restaurant on the 10th floor of the Wachovia Building and a gift shop in the enclosed mall like space connecting the two buildings.

thelakelander

March 31, 2010, 08:21:31 PM
Maybe the wayfinding sign is correct...but it was supposed to be hung on the Florida Theatre block of Forsyth.

No, its wrong.  If it were hung on the Florida Theatre block, it would direct you to the Southbank via Newnan.  That route would only work for a duck tour.

JoeMerchant

March 31, 2010, 08:29:48 PM
Maybe the wayfinding sign is correct...but it was supposed to be hung on the Florida Theatre block of Forsyth.

No, its wrong.  If it were hung on the Florida Theatre block, it would direct you to the Southbank via Newnan.  That route would only work for a duck tour.



Well maybe the Duck Tour is on its way...couldn't say that without laughing.

CS Foltz

March 31, 2010, 08:46:23 PM
Ducks were a pig in the water..............LCM's and LCT's were not much better!

Steve

March 31, 2010, 08:47:11 PM
Maybe the wayfinding sign is correct...but it was supposed to be hung on the Florida Theatre block of Forsyth.

I can't imagine that it was supposed to go there, but either way, the current state is wrong, and that is not acceptable - bottom line.  We have a huge issue with making downtown user-friendly, and we pull this crap.  No excuses; fix it!

CS Foltz

March 31, 2010, 09:02:27 PM
Steve...........we appear to have money for the mayors pet projects, but don't appear to have money for common basic necessities or services...........but hay...... We can always get fee'd to make up the difference right? Only $58 Million Dollars in the hole at the October Budget Meeting!

stjr

March 31, 2010, 09:21:00 PM
Regarding the Omni, who ever designed the orientation of that building should have their sanity questioned.

When the master plan for the rest of that block finally gets completed, the Omni will be nearly invisible, lost in a sea of high rises (I wonder what view the guests will have? Glass mirrored windowed walls?).  The drive up entrance (which also services the parking garage!) is not just invisible, it's almost inaccessible.  The super narrow two-way driveway is often blocked with cars, taxis, and limos barely leaving one lane for passage.  The same driveway is the pedestrian exit from the parking garage for all the patrons who park there for the T-U center events.  But, since the driveway has no or little sidewalk coverage, hundreds of people (enough that they have a cop at the crosswalk mid-block) must walk its length down the center of the driveway dodging the cars coming and going to the hotel and garage.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.  One day, an expensive lawsuit by an injured pedestrian might get them to fix it.

The other poor execution is that Juliette's fine dining restaurant in the hotel has no parking validation for the over-priced garage.  I don't think the hotel does either for events there (unlike the Hyatt which does).  The excuse is that the Omni doesn't own the garage.  You would think when they negotiated for the building they would have addressed that since spaces are reserved for hotel guests and valet parking.

I have also wondered why Juliette's (and other downtown restaurants) don't promote pre-theater dinners and/or dinner/theater ticket/parking packages as I have never seen that either.

As to the wayfinding signs, it looks like they could be in the street light shadows at night.  Is visibility then an issue?

Jerry Moran

March 31, 2010, 10:07:21 PM
Quote
I have also wondered why Juliette's (and other downtown restaurants) don't promote pre-theater dinners and/or dinner/theater ticket/parking packages as I have never seen that either.

From the Florida Times-Union letters to the editor:

Quote
DOWNTOWN EVENTS

Early starts

The reader who expressed concern about sparse attendance at the Jacksonville Symphony Musicians Pension Benefit concert should not be surprised.

Just how many of us can get off work, go home and wash up, have something to eat, fight traffic and then find downtown parking in time to make a 7:30 show?

Wouldn't it be nice to have a few minutes for a quick pre-concert meal at a downtown restaurant before the show? If the event starts at 7:30, that's nearly impossible.

All weekday events, shows, and concerts in Jacksonville should be required to start no earlier than 8:15 p.m.

That extra 45 minutes would make a world of difference in helping attendees patronize downtown businesses. If the out-of-town promoters of the event cannot do that, let them find another city.

JERRY MORAN,

restaurateur,

Why bother when most of the shows during the week start at 7:30 PM or earlier?  Only non-working or retired people have the time and schedule to attend events held at that time.  This has been said before:  How can one get off work at 5 PM, go home and clean up, get the kids squared away, drive downtown, find parking, gobble down a dinner, and then make a 7:30 show?  Almost no one.  I told the Mayor that at his Make a Scene Downtown meeting last year.  I called Stacy Ridenour at the Symphony and discussed the issue at length.  Nothing is going to change.  Virtually every one of my pre-event guests are nervous about making the show in time, and say they would like the starting time moved back to 8 PM or later during the week.

So, the Jacksonville Symphony has no one to blame for lousy weekday attendance but themselves.

The FL Theater seems to be having more 8 PM week day shows, and are to be commended for that.

Coolyfett

March 31, 2010, 10:30:26 PM
Thats the Omni Entrance?? I thought that was something else. Ive stayed at that hotel n always entered where the driveway is. Good deal on the parking signage. They do need to fix the direction signs.

Keith-N-Jax

April 01, 2010, 01:58:06 AM
We live here and dont know these things exist. How would you know I've never seen any advertisement?

finehoe

April 01, 2010, 08:56:15 AM
Regarding the Omni, who ever designed the orientation of that building should have their sanity questioned.

Not just the orientation, but the design, period.  That is one ugly building. 
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