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A Case For Downtown Jacksonville

During the past year, there have been numerous formal and informal civic conversations about the current plight of downtown Jacksonville. Last winter, the Times-Union wrote a major feature called the "Downtown Dilemma", and this spring Downtown Vision (DVI) published a White Paper called "Turning the Corner, rethinking and remaking downtown".

Published February 3, 2011 in Opinion      38 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


feature

The issues of high office vacancy rates, limited residential development, lack of urban activity, decaying historic buildings & civic spaces, a largely inaccessible riverfront, and challenges with providing social services have been well chronicled. These issues are not unique to Jacksonville; however, the city has fallen behind other cities across the nation in its response to the crisis, despite an enviable world-class urban riverfront setting and rich corporate & civic downtown history.

Recognizing this, many local organizations have “claimed” the revitalization of downtown Jacksonville as a high priority, including: the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, NAIOP, Urban Land Institute, Jacksonville Civic Council, and other civic and professional organizations. Additionally, the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission (JEDC) and DVI are organizations that have, as their primary focus, downtown’s improvement and development.

One could argue that despite the well-documented challenges and numerous conversations, a sufficient case hasn’t yet been made to translate the talk into action. If Jacksonville is going to alter the course of decline and deliver an improved quality of life to its residents, urgent action is necessary. History tells us that the consequences of the status quo are dire. The good news is that the “bones” of the city and downtown waterfront setting are world class, and Jacksonville’s potential to emerge as a premier Great City in the region and nation is unparalleled.

The following statements illustrate downtown’s crucial role in the region, and helps define the case for urgent action and policy that prioritizes the revitalization of Jacksonville’s downtown:



“Making the Case”:



A city’s Downtown is a reflection of how a community sees itself. It is a critical factor in business retention and recruitment efforts. Studies show that when industries & businesses that attract a highly educated workforce begin looking at a community as a possible location, they examine many aspects, including those that define the quality of life. Today’s young, educated workforce has a particular emphasis and interest in quality of life in downtown — is it alive and viable, or does it represent local disinterest and failure?

A city's Downtown represents its image to the outside world. A vibrant, dynamic downtown is a message to the world that a city is forward thinking, energetic and fun.

The U.S. Census shows that 64% of college-educated 25-34 year-olds said they looked for a job only after they chose which city to live in. Quality of Life is considered the Number One criteria these workers apply in selecting a city.

Downtown is, traditionally, an indicator of the local business climate and the quality of the public/private partnership in a community.

Downtowns are major employers, with the ability to support a greater number and concentration of jobs, at all salary levels, in a compact neighborhood or collection of neighborhoods.

Downtown is typically the home of independent, family-owned businesses. Independent businesses are more likely to support local schools, charities and community projects; and reinvest profits locally

Downtown is an important incubator for new small businesses and emerging industries.

Downtown represents a vast amount of public and private investment that has already been made. The costs to recreate all the public infrastructure and buildings already existing in Jacksonville’s central business district and surrounding urban neighborhoods is (has been) staggering – as are the costs of transportation & utility infrastructure to serve far reaching development. These costs of infrastructure and expanded maintenance continue to accrue at the expense of downtown.

There is great waste of past dollars spent if downtown is neglected.

A Bank of America study reveals that sprawl reduces quality of life, increases the attractiveness of other more dense cities, and yields higher direct business costs and taxes to offset the side-effects of sprawl.

The highest possible density of healthy businesses in buildings assessed at full value helps reduce the tax burden on homeowners.

A healthy Downtown has a positive impact on the property values of nearby surrounding residential neighborhoods.

A healthy Downtown helps reduce sprawl. By building density in the heart of the community, we make cities more livable, utilize existing transportation infrastructure, and protect the region’s natural environmental character.

Downtown is the heart of a community for a mix of goods and services: government, professional, technical and cultural destinations.

Downtown is an important community space where all members of a community can meet and interact. Downtown is where you’ll typically find monuments to a city’s history, great civic parks, community festivals & events.

Downtown Jacksonville has the great fortune to be centered on the region’s greatest natural feature, the St Johns River and its expansive (mostly) publicly held waterfront.





A city’s downtown is often a major tourist draw. When people travel, they want to see unique, genuine places. With Jacksonville’s waterfront setting and rich history, there isn’t a downtown like it in the world. Many people want to visit downtown when they visit Jacksonville for business, conventions, golf, football games, festivals, or special events. They want to check out downtown. They want to see something unique, they want to enjoy great civic spaces, they want to engage the river in many different ways, and they want to see the history, the small shops. They don’t want run-of-the-mill chain & big box stores, or contrived “entertainment districts” that could be located anywhere.

Young college-educated workers and retiring Boomers are actively seeking to live in dense, mixed-use communities that don’t require cars - that is, cities or revitalized outskirts in which residences, shops, schools, parks, and other amenities exist close together. Today it’s these urban neighborhoods that are exciting and diverse and exploding with growth.

The American Journal of Public Health and the American Journal of Health Promotion link sprawl to obesity.

Behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman finds commuting has the most negative effect on people’s moods.

Economists Bruno S. Frey and Alois Stutzer conclude that commuters who live an hour from work need to earn 40% more money than if they were non-commuters.

A downtown provides a sense of community and place. As Carol Lifkind, author of Main Street: The Face of Urban America, said “...as Main Street, it was uniquely American, a powerful symbol of shared experiences, of common memory, of the challenge, and the struggle of building a civilization... Main Street was always familiar, always recognizable as the heart and soul of the village, town or city.”

Article by Steve Lovett







38 Comments

dougskiles

February 03, 2011, 06:59:39 AM
Great article, Steve.  Do you have a link for the Bank of America study you referenced about the high cost of sprawl?

Garden guy

February 03, 2011, 07:52:08 AM
Let's all try clearing house with removing 80 % our conservative city council and replace them with people who are'nt trying to get some money and push thier church or thier own personal agenda...that's where things will change..it stands with them...if we all pick a bunch of conservative right wing people.....this is what we will have...a dying downtown and city..sorry but the truth hurts

Jaxson

February 03, 2011, 08:06:49 AM
Let's all try clearing house with removing 80 % our conservative city council and replace them with people who are'nt trying to get some money and push thier church or thier own personal agenda...that's where things will change..it stands with them...if we all pick a bunch of conservative right wing people.....this is what we will have...a dying downtown and city..sorry but the truth hurts

Downtown development does not quite square well with a conservative mindset.  Healthy urban environments depend on cultivating an atmosphere that is creative, diverse and engaging.  Unfortunately, most of our energies are being spent on bland, homogenous and sterile suburban development.  I place partial blame on our leadership that reflects an innate conservative aversion to urban centers - which typically lean left and rely on more government services (e.g. transit). 

stephendare

February 03, 2011, 08:16:46 AM
um guys, a healthy thriving downtown is neither a conservative or a liberal issue.

There are extremely liberal points to be made for a downtown and there are even stronger conservative points.

Having an entire district built and developed for the purposes of business, commerce and the management and creation of wealth is a pretty conservative thing.

Not socialistically subsidizing a handful of real estate developers and depending on government handouts to build roads and additional schools and parks in the suburbs is a pretty conservative point of view.

Not wasting money on public infrastructure all over the county is a conservative mantra.

I could go on, but the idea that a dense vibrant downtown is in any way partisan is shortsighted.

The problem with our current leadership isnt that they are liberal or conservative.  Its the fact that so many of them are just plain uninformed, and a handful of them are plain stupid.

God should grant that we were governed by a mixture of smart libs and conservative businessmen who actually knew what was happening in the city.

Right now the only partisanship you can accuse most of our elected officials of participating in is the party of Stupid.

tufsu1

February 03, 2011, 08:27:58 AM
Stephen....that works for the fiscal conservative mindset...it does not work for the neo-con (which isn't really an issue at the local level) or the religious conservative (which clearly is an issue for some) mindsets.

stephendare

February 03, 2011, 08:30:16 AM
Stephen....that works for the fiscal conservative mindset...it does not work for the neo-con (which isn't really an issue at the local level) or the religious conservative (which clearly is an issue for some) mindsets.

How stupid of me, TUFSU, i thought we were talking about downtown.  I had no idea that it wasnt at the local level.

fsujax

February 03, 2011, 08:30:33 AM
nice article.

jcjohnpaint

February 03, 2011, 09:00:14 AM
Great article.  I will also have to agree with Stephen that we need to rid ourselves of the stupid and shortsighted and be in with the smart and forward thinking.  Having a faltering downtown is a complete detriment to the power structure and image of any city.  Any politician that disagrees with this is stupid and should and should reconsider their life role (sorry too much coffee).  I am sorry because I love Jacksonville and with a downtown like ours is pathetic not only on a regional level, but on the national and even international level.  I smell corruption and I say we get rid of these politicians that are for themselves and get some politicians that actually want to do some good for this city and its people.  Smart is going to start in the downtown. 

Jaxson

February 03, 2011, 10:14:54 AM
um guys, a healthy thriving downtown is neither a conservative or a liberal issue.

There are extremely liberal points to be made for a downtown and there are even stronger conservative points.

Having an entire district built and developed for the purposes of business, commerce and the management and creation of wealth is a pretty conservative thing.

Not socialistically subsidizing a handful of real estate developers and depending on government handouts to build roads and additional schools and parks in the suburbs is a pretty conservative point of view.

Not wasting money on public infrastructure all over the county is a conservative mantra.

I could go on, but the idea that a dense vibrant downtown is in any way partisan is shortsighted.

The problem with our current leadership isnt that they are liberal or conservative.  Its the fact that so many of them are just plain uninformed, and a handful of them are plain stupid.

God should grant that we were governed by a mixture of smart libs and conservative businessmen who actually knew what was happening in the city.

Right now the only partisanship you can accuse most of our elected officials of participating in is the party of Stupid.

I did not mean to paint all conservatives with a broad brush.  I agree that fiscal conservatism can be great for a city.  It is the social conservatives, however, who are major obstacles to making progress downtown.  A more libertarian approach would do wonders for our city... 
As for conservative mayors and city leadership...I not only supported Rudy Giuliani when was mayor of New York, I voted for him in the Florida GOP primary because he has the right kind of conservatism in my opinion.

urbaknight

February 03, 2011, 11:43:52 AM
I agree with kicking out the current leadership, But we also may have to embarrass them by criticizing our city leaders and let the rest of the country know how stupid, backward and self serving they really are. It's not the fault of the people of Jacksonville, infact, I say the city is on it's way up, as soon as we get those idiots country bumpkins out of our city council. I tell people to visit JAX and visit again in the future, and you'll see improvements. I'm basically trying to bring national attention and all its criticism to embarrass our leaders into doing something different.

I got this idea when I saw a documentary about the Civil Rights movement during the 50's and 60's. The way the south handled the situation and the way they treated black people and the riots that played out for the whole country to see. There was no choice for those evil assholes but to grant equal rights to all. If we can make our leaders feel worthless and inadequate, they may either go into hidind or maybe they'll start wising up. One can only hope.

Bativac

February 03, 2011, 02:04:56 PM
um guys, a healthy thriving downtown is neither a conservative or a liberal issue.

There are extremely liberal points to be made for a downtown and there are even stronger conservative points.

Having an entire district built and developed for the purposes of business, commerce and the management and creation of wealth is a pretty conservative thing.

Not socialistically subsidizing a handful of real estate developers and depending on government handouts to build roads and additional schools and parks in the suburbs is a pretty conservative point of view.

Not wasting money on public infrastructure all over the county is a conservative mantra.

I could go on, but the idea that a dense vibrant downtown is in any way partisan is shortsighted.

The problem with our current leadership isnt that they are liberal or conservative.  Its the fact that so many of them are just plain uninformed, and a handful of them are plain stupid.

God should grant that we were governed by a mixture of smart libs and conservative businessmen who actually knew what was happening in the city.

Right now the only partisanship you can accuse most of our elected officials of participating in is the party of Stupid.

Quoted for truth. Downtown being a success isn't a partisan issue. It's a matter of civic pride and a desire for the place you live to be vibrant and economically successful for the people who live there. I wish we could do away with all mention of political parties when it comes to local politics. It causes more problems than it solves.

Political labels seems to serve no other purpose than to give voters who don't want to do any research an easy way to pick a canditate to support.

vicupstate

February 03, 2011, 02:38:30 PM
um guys, a healthy thriving downtown is neither a conservative or a liberal issue.

There are extremely liberal points to be made for a downtown and there are even stronger conservative points.

Having an entire district built and developed for the purposes of business, commerce and the management and creation of wealth is a pretty conservative thing.

Not socialistically subsidizing a handful of real estate developers and depending on government handouts to build roads and additional schools and parks in the suburbs is a pretty conservative point of view.

Not wasting money on public infrastructure all over the county is a conservative mantra.

I could go on, but the idea that a dense vibrant downtown is in any way partisan is shortsighted.

The problem with our current leadership isnt that they are liberal or conservative.  Its the fact that so many of them are just plain uninformed, and a handful of them are plain stupid.

God should grant that we were governed by a mixture of smart libs and conservative businessmen who actually knew what was happening in the city.

Right now the only partisanship you can accuse most of our elected officials of participating in is the party of Stupid.

Quoted for truth. Downtown being a success isn't a partisan issue. It's a matter of civic pride and a desire for the place you live to be vibrant and economically successful for the people who live there. I wish we could do away with all mention of political parties when it comes to local politics. It causes more problems than it solves.

Political labels seems to serve no other purpose than to give voters who don't want to do any research an easy way to pick a canditate to support.

+100,000

peestandingup

February 03, 2011, 02:59:55 PM
Healthy urban environments depend on cultivating an atmosphere that is creative, diverse and engaging.  Unfortunately, most of our energies are being spent on bland, homogenous and sterile suburban development.  I place partial blame on our leadership that reflects an innate conservative aversion to urban centers - which typically lean left and rely on more government services (e.g. transit). 

The problem really began when the city of Jacksonville decided somewhere along the way that it wanted to be perceived bigger than what it really is. Meaning gobbling up & incorporating as much areas as possible. Our city limits are simply ridiculous. I mean, freakin' Baldwin to the west is technically a part of the "city of Jacksonville" for Christ sake. What purpose does that even serve?? The more land your city gobbles up, the harder & harder its going to be to manage all of this for transit & other issues. And it certainly has played a role in the decay of downtown. I think what we're really guilty of is having too much land at our disposal & not enough sense to leave it the hell alone. Especially when we had all of this great urban infrastructure already in place.

So I really don't know an answer to this. But in my experience, the smaller & more condensed your city stays, the better it is for urban growth because it sorta forces people to work with what they have. Most all of the great walkable, urban cities in the US have stayed relatively condensed. We don't have that here & I don't know if we ever will. The damage is done & they're still going strong, until what we're basically left with now is just a collection of suburbs & sub-divisions lumped together & calling themselves "a city".

It's like the article said. It's kind of disgusting knowing the history of Jacksonville & knowing what we used to have that we threw away for a bunch of fake crap & more land to build that crap on. This town & its leaders had a good head on it's shoulders, but have just gone completely overboard with sprawl probably more than any city in the US. Jacksonville is lost I'm afraid.

Steve_Lovett

February 03, 2011, 03:01:51 PM
Doug - Bank of America participated/co-sponsored a study in California titled: "Beyond Sprawl: New Patterns of Growth to fit California".  I don't have the link at-hand, but I have a copy of the study at home and I suspect it's available online somewhere.

Jaxson

February 03, 2011, 03:42:09 PM
um guys, a healthy thriving downtown is neither a conservative or a liberal issue.

There are extremely liberal points to be made for a downtown and there are even stronger conservative points.

Having an entire district built and developed for the purposes of business, commerce and the management and creation of wealth is a pretty conservative thing.

Not socialistically subsidizing a handful of real estate developers and depending on government handouts to build roads and additional schools and parks in the suburbs is a pretty conservative point of view.

Not wasting money on public infrastructure all over the county is a conservative mantra.

I could go on, but the idea that a dense vibrant downtown is in any way partisan is shortsighted.

The problem with our current leadership isnt that they are liberal or conservative.  Its the fact that so many of them are just plain uninformed, and a handful of them are plain stupid.

God should grant that we were governed by a mixture of smart libs and conservative businessmen who actually knew what was happening in the city.

Right now the only partisanship you can accuse most of our elected officials of participating in is the party of Stupid.

Quoted for truth. Downtown being a success isn't a partisan issue. It's a matter of civic pride and a desire for the place you live to be vibrant and economically successful for the people who live there. I wish we could do away with all mention of political parties when it comes to local politics. It causes more problems than it solves.

Political labels seems to serve no other purpose than to give voters who don't want to do any research an easy way to pick a canditate to support.

It is one thing to be non-partisan.  It is another thing to believe that partisan viewpoints have no bearing on the political scene.  Yes, it is true that there is a lot of 'gray' area on the traditional continuum of 'conservative' and 'liberal.'  It is also true that labels are a convenient and lazy way to make up our minds on issues.  I also believe that our city elections should be non-partisan. 
I beg to differ, though, if we believe that denying any partisan differences at all is going to somehow turn our city into a utopia.  There are some social conservative beliefs that will keep Jacksonville from having the kind of downtown that is present in cities like Tampa, Orlando or Atlanta.  This same social conservative mindset is what keeps our city woefully behind others when it comes to treating others (e.g. non-Christians, LGBT, etc.).  This is not to say that 'liberals' are somehow to be let off the hook, either.  Many are content to complain in the shadows rather than actually join forces to create a politically diverse city.

stephendare

February 03, 2011, 03:54:16 PM
meh.

Im turning into a cynic when it comes to partisanship.  I just don't believe in the power of a few fools with megaphones over the longhaul.

So are we the Gayest Parenting city in america?  Or are we the most baptist city in america?

Are we the most racist good old boy town youve ever heard of?  Or do we have one of the largest percentages of non white residents in America, the only traditional african american beach in Florida, and the oldest tradition of Black Millionaires in the country?

Was the 80s the heydey of Homer Linsdey?  Or was it the era of Skating, Punk Rock, The Milk Bar and Einstein a go go?

Is this the home of Republican Knotheads or is it the home of Wakefield Poole, the father of gay porn?

You know what I mean?  Ive been active in this city since the early 80s, and as much as I would like to tell you that the answers boil down to a political ideology, I can't.  Not honestly.  It boils down to thoughtless greed, unbridled corruption (across the entire political spectrum), uninformed idealism and a serious case of the stupids.

The villains of downtown were only occasionally the kind you would be able to identify at first glance.



fsujax

February 03, 2011, 03:56:42 PM
Stephen you bring up some great points, sometimes I think jax is more diverse than people realize.

Wacca Pilatka

February 03, 2011, 04:38:26 PM
Stephen you bring up some great points, sometimes I think jax is more diverse than people realize.

Often I think Jax is more diverse than people realize.  And more beautiful.  And more exciting.  And more historically significant.  And more blessed with a plethora of things to do.

jcjohnpaint

February 03, 2011, 05:11:00 PM
And I would say that the downtown is really one of the only things I might bitch about.  Since I have been here (and not for too long) this city is very diverse and there is lots of art.  Since art is my field it means a lot to me, but since I have moved here I can't tell you how many artists and such I have met.  I think Artwalk is an example of this.  I do smell some really bad corruption.  I have heard many different reasons and I am not sure, but I am just saying.  Once the corruption is gone we will see a grand downtown once again.

Jaxson

February 03, 2011, 06:00:24 PM
And I would say that the downtown is really one of the only things I might bitch about.  Since I have been here (and not for too long) this city is very diverse and there is lots of art.  Since art is my field it means a lot to me, but since I have moved here I can't tell you how many artists and such I have met.  I think Artwalk is an example of this.  I do smell some really bad corruption.  I have heard many different reasons and I am not sure, but I am just saying.  Once the corruption is gone we will see a grand downtown once again.

I hope that you are right about seeing a grand downtown once again.

Bewler

February 03, 2011, 06:25:20 PM
Peestandingup, you just made a great and obvious point that I’ve sadly never even considered. I’m certainly no expert on how it works, but if our borders were smaller wouldn’t it be easier to focus and prioritize problems and decide where to spend money on improvements? So you’re not dealing with questions like “Actually fix San Marco and Main St. in a timely manner or make plans to construct an outer loop?” Also, when you consider its size, Jacksonville is not dense at all. Do we really have enough taxpaying citizens within our city limits to properly sustain this enormous boundary?

Lest we forget one of the main causes of the Roman Empire’s decline. Enemy forces in Georgia and St Augustine will surely invade if we’re not careful!

peestandingup

February 03, 2011, 07:34:16 PM
Peestandingup, you just made a great and obvious point that I’ve sadly never even considered. I’m certainly no expert on how it works, but if our borders were smaller wouldn’t it be easier to focus and prioritize problems and decide where to spend money on improvements? So you’re not dealing with questions like “Actually fix San Marco and Main St. in a timely manner or make plans to construct an outer loop?” Also, when you consider its size, Jacksonville is not dense at all. Do we really have enough taxpaying citizens within our city limits to properly sustain this enormous boundary?

Lest we forget one of the main causes of the Roman Empire’s decline. Enemy forces in Georgia and St Augustine will surely invade if we’re not careful!

Yeah, it's out of control & certainly has a negative impact on the kind of stuff we talk about on here. The scary part is, none of the politicians or anyone else higher up ever talks about it. And you would think they would, since it's like you say, such an obvious thing. I don't understand the purpose of overextending ourselves like we have.

If you'll notice that on every MetroJacksonville article that compares Jax to other more urban cities, they'll do a city boundary overlay of ours vs the comparison city, and we ALWAYS blow them away with our massive boundaries. It's almost comical it's so big. Yet a lot of those places have just as big a population.

It's no secret here I'm sure & it's the reason they do those map overlays in the first place, but it begs to be reiterated over & over. It's really the root of our problem here & it seems to be getting worse (with talks of outer loops & so much development going up in the 'burbs here).

Jacksonville really is sorta the poster child for a city that had it all, with nice consolidated boundaries but traded it all for out of control sprawl. And I don't believe the core will ever fully recover until it stops & we wrangle some of it back in. Unfortunately, that isn't happening & seems to be just the opposite. Oh, we're "growing", but not the right way.

Steve_Lovett

February 03, 2011, 09:29:04 PM
Thanks to MetroJacksonville for publishing this. 

I wrote this originally as part of my work on the Chamber's Board of Governors Downtown Task Force, as an internal document to provide our committee "talking points" - and I'm glad its been more widely circulated and discussed.  Effective advocacy for downtown needs to articulate to the entire city why downtown's revitalization is an important regional priority.  I think a compelling case statement has been missing -- it's the reason I prepared this document.  Perhaps the lack of an articulate case for downtown is partly to blame for why many plans and white papers have come and gone without effective implementation, action, and follow-through.

Downtown will always exist, and if we pursue proper, sustainable policy and invest in our downtown it will be an economic, social, and cultural engine for the entire city of Jacksonville.  Or, if not, the suburban residential tax base throughout the city will forever underwrite and subsidize it's underutilized infrastructure, social services, etc.  Policy decisions in the near term will likely determine which path the city takes.

dougskiles

February 03, 2011, 10:01:10 PM
We also need to break the political grip the industries promoting sprawl have on our city.  Otherwise, it doesn't matter how great our plans are and how badly we want them to succeed.  Those in power will continue to make decisions and spend money promoting development further away from downtown.

Steve_Lovett

February 03, 2011, 10:05:09 PM
We also need to break the political grip the industries promoting sprawl have on our city.  Otherwise, it doesn't matter how great our plans are and how badly we want them to succeed.  Those in power will continue to make decisions and spend money promoting development further away from downtown.

Implementing good policy and the commitment to following the policy is paramount.  It's not the path of least resistance, and will require civic buy-in and investment. 

tufsu1

February 03, 2011, 10:47:37 PM
Stephen....that works for the fiscal conservative mindset...it does not work for the neo-con (which isn't really an issue at the local level) or the religious conservative (which clearly is an issue for some) mindsets.

How stupid of me, TUFSU, i thought we were talking about downtown.  I had no idea that it wasnt at the local level.

agreed....how "stupid" of you to ignore the second half of my sentence.

stephendare

February 03, 2011, 10:52:09 PM
Stephen....that works for the fiscal conservative mindset...it does not work for the neo-con (which isn't really an issue at the local level) or the religious conservative (which clearly is an issue for some) mindsets.

How stupid of me, TUFSU, i thought we were talking about downtown.  I had no idea that it wasnt at the local level.

agreed....how "stupid" of you to ignore the second half of my sentence.

um.  really?  Well I don't normally 'respond' to pointless predicates, my dear friend. However other, better expressed people did bring it up later in the conversation, at which point I did respond with my opinion on the subject.  If you feel sleighted, my apologies for not taking time to respond to all the various parts of speech contained in your hopelessly compounded sentence.  Hopefully the later replies will pacify your needs.

ronchamblin

February 03, 2011, 10:54:01 PM
     Our city core’s journey from a semi ghost town with high vacancies in the  residential, retail, entertainment, cultural, and commercial arenas to a fully occupied vibrant city is a long one, and it is stalled.  I wonder occasionally about the major factors causing the stalled condition.  The state of the economy is suspect, but it is for the most part a stable platform upon which all the other factors can perform or fail, and probably should not be looked upon as a significant cause, which, if identified as such, might unfortunately offer some of us a tendency to wait for a better economy while we should be constantly focusing and acting on the real factors causing stagnation. 

     During the years of relative stagnation, the mayor and city council have been replaced several times.  Groups, councils, and forums have had over the years many discussions.  Many “things” have been done, some of them very necessary to at least make the city core as attractive as possible in spite of the building vacancies and lack of “people”; conditions which are presented to anyone who visits with the purpose of spending money, or investing with a business or a resident.  This is the state of stagnation in the city core, and nothing on the horizon offers hope of anything better any time soon.

     The continuing stagnation, which so far has not responded to the energies of all concerned, indicates that there are some important issues and factors which have escaped our recognition.  They are surely subtle, almost unseen, factors, but the fact of the continued stagnation indicates that they are also formidable.  They are formidable because they have defeated all attempts to bring vibrancy to our city core.

     It is my belief that it is possible to bring vibrancy to our city core if we recognize, identify, and neutralize these subtle but powerful factors.  Stephen and others have touched upon these factors while discussing the problem of core stagnation.

     The terms used were “Stupidity” and “Greed”.  To these I would add terms like “Ignorance”, “Lack of Vision”, “Selfishness”,  “Complacency”, “Self-Centered”, and “Power-Seeking”. 

     There are some intelligent, dedicated, and excellent individuals working in the environment set with the objective of bringing vibrancy to the city core.  But one or two dedicated and effective individuals working against dozens of influential individuals who possess a little too much of what we call ignorance, a smattering of stupidity, a good bit of selfishness, a great amount of greed, and too much complacency; and because of these afflictions, absolutely no vision, the result is stagnation, which is a condition of no movement toward any desired destination.  One cannot have vision for worthwhile community and city goals when one is blinded by greed and selfishness, obsessed with power, and weakened by stupidity and ignorance. 

     The fact of the continuing stagnation of city core development indicates that we’ve had for too long, too many individuals possessing the above useless and destructive characteristics within our city government, within our council, within various agencies and groups.  I can only say that I do not envy those few dedicated individuals who are restrained by having to work alongside these individuals.

     I hope that the voters in the upcoming elections will, by educating themselves and garnering their wisdom, vote out the ignorant, the stupid, the greedy, the selfish, the visionless, and allow fresh blood into our city government.     

     If it is true that most city governments accumulate a population of elected and hired individuals, too large a segment of which, having the undesirable characteristics as outlined above, why is it so?  Is it true that most individuals who run for office want power or status -- to sit comfortably upon an elected position, and this as an end objective?  If they can speak well, like a preacher, and tell a good story, are reasonably good looking, and have a nice name, have had connections, and perhaps have money to buy more posters and TV than most, they can get elected -- even though they are basically ignorant, a little stupid, greedy, selfish, and totally without creativity or vision.

      It must be.  There is, within the structure of our city’s broad governmental environment, a substructure of habitual and accepted mediocrity, of entangled favoritism, of too many influential individuals, inside and outside of our city government, who, by their possession of the above human characteristics, hold our city hostage to their failures, their selfishness, and they should not only be ashamed, they should eject themselves into the private sector so that others, who are intelligent and creative, and care about our city, can do what needs to be done.

     You don’t want to know how I really feel.


Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day.  Give him a religion, and he will starve to death while praying for a fish.

tufsu1

February 03, 2011, 10:56:59 PM
um.  really?  Well I don't normally 'respond' to pointless predicates, my dear friend. However other, better expressed people did bring it up later in the conversation, at which point I did respond with my opinion on the subject.  If you feel sleighted, my apologies for not taking time to respond to all the various parts of speech contained in your hopelessly compounded sentence.  Hopefully the later replies will pacify your needs.

sure do...sorry, I was a bit busy with work today :)

Steve_Lovett

February 04, 2011, 08:25:44 AM
     Our city core’s journey from a semi ghost town with high vacancies in the  residential, retail, entertainment, cultural, and commercial arenas to a fully occupied vibrant city is a long one, and it is stalled.  I wonder occasionally about the major factors causing the stalled condition.  The state of the economy is suspect, but it is for the most part a stable platform upon which all the other factors can perform or fail, and probably should not be looked upon as a significant cause, which, if identified as such, might unfortunately offer some of us a tendency to wait for a better economy while we should be constantly focusing and acting on the real factors causing stagnation. 

     During the years of relative stagnation, the mayor and city council have been replaced several times.  Groups, councils, and forums have had over the years many discussions.  Many “things” have been done, some of them very necessary to at least make the city core as attractive as possible in spite of the building vacancies and lack of “people”; conditions which are presented to anyone who visits with the purpose of spending money, or investing with a business or a resident.  This is the state of stagnation in the city core, and nothing on the horizon offers hope of anything better any time soon.

     The continuing stagnation, which so far has not responded to the energies of all concerned, indicates that there are some important issues and factors which have escaped our recognition.  They are surely subtle, almost unseen, factors, but the fact of the continued stagnation indicates that they are also formidable.  They are formidable because they have defeated all attempts to bring vibrancy to our city core.

     It is my belief that it is possible to bring vibrancy to our city core if we recognize, identify, and neutralize these subtle but powerful factors.  Stephen and others have touched upon these factors while discussing the problem of core stagnation.

     The terms used were “Stupidity” and “Greed”.  To these I would add terms like “Ignorance”, “Lack of Vision”, “Selfishness”,  “Complacency”, “Self-Centered”, and “Power-Seeking”. 

     There are some intelligent, dedicated, and excellent individuals working in the environment set with the objective of bringing vibrancy to the city core.  But one or two dedicated and effective individuals working against dozens of influential individuals who possess a little too much of what we call ignorance, a smattering of stupidity, a good bit of selfishness, a great amount of greed, and too much complacency; and because of these afflictions, absolutely no vision, the result is stagnation, which is a condition of no movement toward any desired destination.  One cannot have vision for worthwhile community and city goals when one is blinded by greed and selfishness, obsessed with power, and weakened by stupidity and ignorance. 

     The fact of the continuing stagnation of city core development indicates that we’ve had for too long, too many individuals possessing the above useless and destructive characteristics within our city government, within our council, within various agencies and groups.  I can only say that I do not envy those few dedicated individuals who are restrained by having to work alongside these individuals.

     I hope that the voters in the upcoming elections will, by educating themselves and garnering their wisdom, vote out the ignorant, the stupid, the greedy, the selfish, the visionless, and allow fresh blood into our city government.     

     If it is true that most city governments accumulate a population of elected and hired individuals, too large a segment of which, having the undesirable characteristics as outlined above, why is it so?  Is it true that most individuals who run for office want power or status -- to sit comfortably upon an elected position, and this as an end objective?  If they can speak well, like a preacher, and tell a good story, are reasonably good looking, and have a nice name, have had connections, and perhaps have money to buy more posters and TV than most, they can get elected -- even though they are basically ignorant, a little stupid, greedy, selfish, and totally without creativity or vision.

      It must be.  There is, within the structure of our city’s broad governmental environment, a substructure of habitual and accepted mediocrity, of entangled favoritism, of too many influential individuals, inside and outside of our city government, who, by their possession of the above human characteristics, hold our city hostage to their failures, their selfishness, and they should not only be ashamed, they should eject themselves into the private sector so that others, who are intelligent and creative, and care about our city, can do what needs to be done.

     You don’t want to know how I really feel.


Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day.  Give him a religion, and he will starve to death while praying for a fish.



Thoughtfully considered and well written.  Thank you.

Dashing Dan

February 04, 2011, 09:58:09 AM
What I see downtown looks like the cumulative outcome of years of logrolling, as in I'll support your downtown infrastructure project (e.g. at Prime Osborn) if you'll support mine (e.g. at Metropolitan Park).  Before doing anything else, the city should obtain a realistic forecast of total number of employees or residents downtown in 10 or 20 years, and then plan public investments to support that number.  Last year's white paper was a step in that direction.

ronchamblin

February 04, 2011, 10:01:40 AM
Thanks Steve, for your toleration of my rant of yesterday evening.  I must restrain my tendency to get on a roll about certain principles and possibilities, and sometimes my mood at the time takes things too far, to the point of abrasiveness and insensitivity,  and to the point of being against my thoughts of a later mood.
I think there are some good points in what I have written.  However, reality is more complex than the scenario I’ve suggested, and therefore I suggest any readers might realize that my broad brush strokes, although painting an interesting or fun picture, resulted in a picture of simplicity and error, and one having too abrasive a slant, so that the most benefit was to me, as it only satisfied my need to vent my frustrations about our scenario of stagnation.
In the future, I must restrain my tendency to vent on this very instructive and valuable forum at MJ.  Although it is occasionally fun to vent frustration, one must be careful with unintentional harshness and possibly erroneous assumptions affecting those who might be the most effective and dedicated individuals we have in our city environment. 


Give a man a fish, and you will feed him for the day.  Give him a religion, and he will starve to death while he prays for a fish.

Expree

February 04, 2011, 04:25:41 PM
Informative article Mr. lovette.  Thanks for the points of view.

dougskiles

February 04, 2011, 07:18:03 PM
Ron, I thought your 'rant' was great.  I always appreciate someone who can express themselves with that kind of passion and eloquence.  I also appreciate that you do so without anonymity.  It shows me that you are willing to back up what you say.  Please keep it coming!

dougskiles

February 04, 2011, 08:55:00 PM
Here is a link to the Bank of America study:

http://www.radicalurbantheory.com/misc/beyondSprawl.html

and the executive summary:

Quote
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
California is at a unique and unprecedented point in its history-a point at which we face profound questions about our future growth that will determine the state's economic vitality and quality of life for the next generation and beyond.

One of the most fundamental questions we face is whether California can afford to support the pattern of urban and suburban development, often referred to as "sprawl," that has characterized its growth since World War II.

There is no question that this pattern of growth has helped fuel California's unparalleled economic and population boom, and that it has enabled millions of Californians to realize the enduring dream of home ownership. But as we approach the 21st century, it is clear that sprawl has created enormous costs that California can no longer afford. Ironically, unchecked sprawl has shifted from an engine of California's growth to a force that now threatens to inhibit growth and degrade the quality of our life.

This report, sponsored by a diverse coalition of organizations, is meant to serve as a call for California to move beyond sprawl and rethink the way we will grow in the future. This is not a new idea, but it is one that has never been more critical or urgent.

Despite dramatic changes in California over the last decade, traditional development patterns have accelerated. Urban job centers have decentralized to the suburbs. New housing tracts have moved even deeper into agricultural and environmentally sensitive areas. Private auto use continues to rise.

This acceleration of sprawl has surfaced enormous social, environmental and economic costs, which until now have been hidden, ignored, or quietly borne by society. The burden of these costs is becoming very clear. Businesses suffer from higher costs, a loss in worker productivity, and underutilized investments in older communities.

California's business climate becomes less attractive than surrounding states. Suburban residents pay a heavy price in taxation and automobile expenses, while residents of older cities and suburbs lose access to jobs, social stability, and political power. Agriculture and ecosystems also suffer.

There is a fundamental dynamic to growth, whether it be the growth of a community or a corporation, that evolves from expansion to maturity. The early stages of growth are often exuberant and unchecked-that has certainly been the case in post-World War II California. But unchecked growth cannot be sustained forever. At some point this initial surge must mature into more managed, strategic growth. This is the point where we now stand in California.

We can no longer afford the luxury of sprawl. Our demographics are shifting in dramatic ways. Our economy is restructuring. Our environment is under increasing stress. We cannot shape California's future successfully unless we move beyond sprawl.

This is not a call for limiting growth, but a call for California to be smarter about how it grows-to invent ways we can create compact and efficient growth patterns that are responsive to the needs of people at all income levels, and also help maintain California's quality of life and economic competitiveness.

It is a tall order-one that calls for us to rise above our occasional isolation as individuals and interest groups, and address these profound challenges as a community. All of us-government agencies, businesses, community organizations and citizens-play a role. Our actions should be guided by the following goals:

To provide more certainty in determining where new development should and should not occur.
To make more efficient use of land that has already been developed, including a strong focus on job creation and housing in established urban areas.
To establish a legal and procedural framework that will create the desired certainty and send the right economic signals to investors.
To build a broad-based constituency to combat sprawl that includes environmentalists, community organizations, businesses, farmers, government leaders and others.
Californians are already taking some of these steps. We have attempted in this report to not only point out the obstacles to sustained growth, but also to highlight the positive actions that are occurring to better manage growth. Our fundamental message is that we must build on these early successes and take more comprehensive and decisive steps over the next few years to meet this challenge. To build a strong, vibrant economy and ensure a high quality of life for the 21st century, we must move beyond sprawl in the few remaining years of the 20th century.

dougskiles

February 04, 2011, 09:07:29 PM
^Interestingly, this was written in 1996.

Steve_Lovett

February 04, 2011, 09:48:21 PM
Thanks Steve, for your toleration of my rant of yesterday evening.  I must restrain my tendency to get on a roll about certain principles and possibilities, and sometimes my mood at the time takes things too far, to the point of abrasiveness and insensitivity,  and to the point of being against my thoughts of a later mood.
I think there are some good points in what I have written.  However, reality is more complex than the scenario I’ve suggested, and therefore I suggest any readers might realize that my broad brush strokes, although painting an interesting or fun picture, resulted in a picture of simplicity and error, and one having too abrasive a slant, so that the most benefit was to me, as it only satisfied my need to vent my frustrations about our scenario of stagnation.
In the future, I must restrain my tendency to vent on this very instructive and valuable forum at MJ.  Although it is occasionally fun to vent frustration, one must be careful with unintentional harshness and possibly erroneous assumptions affecting those who might be the most effective and dedicated individuals we have in our city environment. 


Give a man a fish, and you will feed him for the day.  Give him a religion, and he will starve to death while he prays for a fish.

Ron - ultimately we all Vote With Our Feet.

To talk passionately about downtown as a "leader" while living at the beach, St Johns County, Jacksonville Golf & Country Club, or Deerwood; and having an office at Southpoint or Gate Parkway is one thing.  To believe, invest personally & professionally, and participate in business "in the trenches" is something else altogether. 

Talk is cheap - and your comments, from your perspective, are fair.

ariane77

February 07, 2011, 07:13:47 PM
Diversity is key to rebuilding downtown with the inclusion of "East Jacksonville" Neighborhood. It seems to be over looked in city planning and implementation of various projects. Well I am on a mission to rebuild my neighborhood economically and I agree that creativity and diversity are key!


Let's all try clearing house with removing 80 % our conservative city council and replace them with people who are'nt trying to get some money and push thier church or thier own personal agenda...that's where things will change..it stands with them...if we all pick a bunch of conservative right wing people.....this is what we will have...a dying downtown and city..sorry but the truth hurts

Downtown development does not quite square well with a conservative mindset.  Healthy urban environments depend on cultivating an atmosphere that is creative, diverse and engaging.  Unfortunately, most of our energies are being spent on bland, homogenous and sterile suburban development.  I place partial blame on our leadership that reflects an innate conservative aversion to urban centers - which typically lean left and rely on more government services (e.g. transit). 
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