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Ten Qualities of a Great Waterfront Destination

As Jacksonville continues its efforts in bringing life back to downtown, here are ten qualities of a great waterfront destination, according to Project for Public Spaces.

Published December 27, 2011 in Development      8 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

3. Activities go on Round-the-Clock and Throughout the Year

Although one mile south of Jacksonville's Northbank, the Riverside Arts Market is an example of year-round waterfront programming.

Waterfronts that thrive year-round will reap substantial community and economic benefits. Rain or cold is no reason for a waterfront to sit empty. Creative programming can take rainy and winter weather into account, and smart use of amenities can provide protection from inclement weather. Likewise, people enjoy being by the water at night if appropriate lighting and special events make them feel welcome and safe.

4. Flexible Design Fosters Adaptability

Charleston's Waterfront Park.

Successful waterfronts must adapt to many changes that bring different users at different times. Programming and management are helpful in serving diverse audiences, but flexibility must also be built into the design of the place. Instead of a permanent stage, for example, which is well-used in the summer but not the winter, a retractable or temporary stage could be used. Likewise, it is important to have on-site storage for movable chairs, tables, umbrellas, and games so they can be used at a moment’s notice.

5. Creative Amenities Boost Everyone’s Enjoyment

Detroit International Riverfront contains a mix of amenities clustered together within a compact setting.

The best waterfronts feature amenities that increase people’s comfort and enjoyment. A bench or waste receptacle in just the right location makes a surprising difference in how people choose to use a place. Lighting strengthens a square’s identity and can draw attention to specific activities, pathways or entrances. Public art is a great magnet for children of all ages to come together. Whether temporary or permanent, amenities help establish a convivial setting for social interaction.

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December 27, 2011, 07:39:52 AM
A Great Wataerfront Destination for Jacksonville should include the Historic Promised 680' Downtown Public Pier 2010-604. The first Jacksonville Waterways Commission meeting and our  Jacksonville city council meeting of 2012 through legislative action by council president Joost and Jacksonville Waterways chair Don Redman can include it on the upcoming FIND (Florida Inland Navigation District) list.

Active recreational access to our St. Johns River our American Heritage River a Federal Initiative will add to making Downtown a Destination.

Who wants to kayak under the Times Union, through the Maxwell House plant, under the pier, past RAM, under the Hyatt parking lot, Under the railroad bridge? Can't wait to share this with the rest of the state and the world.


December 27, 2011, 08:44:54 AM
I went to Baltimore's water front district last year, it certainly was well planned. NO reason the same cant be accomplished here.

Captain Zissou

December 27, 2011, 09:21:15 AM

I will use that one picture of Detroit's waterfront to support my argument for putting a carousel on the North or Southbank.  Either in friendship park or on the western-most portion of the shipyards.  Somebody resurrect the amusement park thread!!!!

ben says

December 27, 2011, 03:20:57 PM
Those cruise ships, good for the economy or not, are killing me in that picture of Charleston...those tourists are going to run that already-tourist-flooded city under water. Bring the cruise ships to downtown Jax!


December 27, 2011, 03:28:20 PM
To really make any progress on this, we are going to have to accept some things need to die... so much unused rotting warehouse spaces and surface parking... and of course the jail taking up prime real estate.

transportation is another huge one, surface and water... we do have a water taxi, but no direct destinations to drop people at...

I think roaming vendors would add something as well... but can you get a license easily? Is one needed. I see one guy playing sax on the far side of the landing...


December 27, 2011, 03:38:20 PM
Those cruise ships, good for the economy or not, are killing me in that picture of Charleston...those tourists are going to run that already-tourist-flooded city under water. Bring the cruise ships to downtown Jax!



December 28, 2011, 08:54:09 AM
Water and streetcars, toss in a little monorail and Amtrak moving downtown and we'd have as much punch as any world city.



January 01, 2012, 03:34:05 PM
Has anyone seen the brand new signage on our Downtown WATERWAYS?
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