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Why Monroe Street Should Not be Rebuilt

This graphic illustrates the main issues in the debate between constructing a new Monroe Street alignment verses a public square in the heart of downtown's walkable core.

Published February 16, 2011 in Development      106 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article



Click to Graphic to Enlarge

Metro Jacksonville has been advocating the idea to develop a public square to better integrate the out-of-scale courthouse structure into the surrounding urban environment since 2008.  This graphic has been developed to illustrate how each option can impact connectivity between the courthouse and surrounding land uses.



For more information on this topic:

Duval County Courthouse: Still Stumbling in the Dark

Urban Infill: A Courthouse Square for Jacksonville

Rebuild Monroe Street - Why Bother?

Courthouse Asphalt or Green Space, The Choice is Yours?




Graphic by Ennis Davis







106 Comments

BridgeTroll

February 16, 2011, 06:41:36 AM
I cannot believe I missed this.  The article/letter appeared in yesterdays Opinion section of the Times Union... Great job Ennis!

http://jacksonville.com/opinion/letters-readers/2011-02-15/story/guest-column-pedestrians-not-traffic-should-be-downtown

Quote
Guest column: Pedestrians, not traffic, should be downtown focus
Posted: February 15, 2011 - 12:

Sometimes a bad promise is better if it is not kept.

Like many others, I was once in favor of keeping Monroe Street open. However, that was when there was a Monroe Street without placing a monster of a courthouse structure over it and half of the block south of it.

With these facts in mind, it's important that we remove the politics and look at this issue from a viewpoint of what is best for the taxpayer.

Here are five reasons why a new Monroe Street alignment should not be constructed.

Circulation

The new courthouse building is 75 feet from Adams Street. Forcing a circuitous one-way street into this area will cause more gridlock, and also goes against the adopted Downtown Action Plan's goals of converting these streets back to two-way facilities.

For those coming from Interstate 95, Forsyth to Clay (the location of the courthouse garage entrance) is superior.

Contextual connectivity

Everyone claims they want downtown Jacksonville to be a vibrant pedestrian-friendly core. Creating urban vibrancy doesn't take a lot of money. It takes connecting and clustering complementing uses within a compact pedestrian-friendly setting to stimulate the synergy needed to support a walkable environment.

During this debate over keeping open Monroe Street open, pedestrian accessibility has taken a back seat. Squeezing a weird street alignment between the courthouse and Adams Street will produce the same pedestrian-hostile environment we've created with State and Union streets.

On the other hand, a plaza gives the opportunity to better integrate an out-of-scale structure with the surrounding area at the pedestrian scale level. Walkability gained through the construction of a public square should not be overlooked.

Safety

About 500,000 people are expected to visit the courthouse annually. The parking garage sits south of Adams Street.

Forcing a new road so close to Adams Street means pedestrians will have to cross four to six lanes of traffic, traveling in a reverse flow, in the 75 feet walk between the parking garage and the courthouse's front door.

This potential death trap can be avoided by not forcing a road in a non-logical location, simply due to a political promise made before the current courthouse footprint was approved by the same individuals.

Grand entrance

Much talk has been about the desire to make Monroe Street a major roadway and an automobile arterial into the heart of downtown from I-95. Historically, Monroe Street has always been a secondary roadway facility.

Regardless of whether it is reconstructed or not, Forsyth and Clay represent the main entrance due to the building's footprint and the courthouse garage's Clay Street entrance.

Since we can't pick up the building and rotate it, we might as well accept these facts and plan accordingly.

Capital costs

The public space is already budgeted. However, additional millions would have to come out the pockets of the taxpayer for the construction of an unnecessary road.

As a fiscal conservative and knowing the limitations of our city's budget, I have to ask myself if spending the money to rebuild Monroe Street is the best use of limited public funds. When I do this, the answer is a resounding no!

I'm also willing to meet at the courthouse site with anyone interested in seeing why rebuilding Monroe Street is not a good idea in terms of downtown revitalization, development, accessibility and taxpayer investment.

Ennis Davis is an architect and urban planner who writes for metrojacksonville.com.



Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/opinion/letters-readers/2011-02-15/story/guest-column-pedestrians-not-traffic-should-be-downtown#ixzz1E7ZHn1m9

fsujax

February 16, 2011, 07:49:05 AM
great letter Ennis!

jcjohnpaint

February 16, 2011, 08:09:22 AM
Bravo!

thelakelander

February 16, 2011, 08:47:06 AM
Here are a few images I took while walking the site with the FTU's Mike Clark.


Looking at the space from the top of the courthouse parking garage. .


Pearl Street.


There's not much distance between where the courthouse steps will be and Adams Street.



Looking towards the federal courthouse.


Looking down Adams Street from the courthouse garage.  All of the buildings down Adams have street level retail space and most of the building fabric is still in place.  Considering the courthouse garage also has retail space, a well designed public space could extend this walkable corridor to Broad Street.  With 500,000 people estimated to walk through the courthouse doors annually, a well integrated project (at street level) could anchor this end of Adams by attracting tenants to empty retail spaces in the area.


Looking at this area from Worman's, a well designed space could also extend walkability up a few blocks of Broad.  On the other hand, another one way street with fast moving traffic gives you more of the same dead environment downtown advocates and city officials claim they want to rid themselves of.


There is a lot of congestion on Monroe Street.  We actually stood in the middle of the street taking pictures for a while.  The only vehicle conflict we came in contact was with a guy who wanted to drive westbound on Monroe (something that two-waying streets would solve). 

Anyway, I have a new proposal for Monroe Street.  That proposal would be to convert a lane of the street into a 12' bike friendly multiuse path, straight through downtown (a 12' path could also be built through the park).  Considering Forsyth Street better facilities heavy auto movement, Monroe could be looked at as an east/west bike arterial.  Here is an example of this in DT St. Petersburg (below).





We could do the same with a street like Pearl or Julia to provide a North/South arterial for alternative forms of transportation.

BridgeTroll

February 16, 2011, 08:51:56 AM
I really like the bike lane/path idea.  Here is another reason to NOT rebuild the street.  Security.  In the post 9/11 era it is not wise to have a street like the one proposed running as close as it will to the courthouse...  Note the Standoff distance in front entrance to the Federal courthouse...

Wacca Pilatka

February 16, 2011, 08:53:28 AM
Great work and great letter.

Captain Zissou

February 16, 2011, 09:11:23 AM
I'd still like to see a couple Free-standing retailers on the site at either end.  My concern is that our city will take this 'park space' and make it look something similar to LaVilla School of the Arts. Something set back and uninviting.  A plaza would be great, but as long as it has active uses and areas made for people to congregate.  (almost) Anything would be better than extending Monroe, but I don't want them taking this as a get out of jail free card to not have to do anything. 

Side note- From above, that front portico looks awful.  It doesn't connect to the building at all.  How Tacky!!  It's like the fake chrome accent pieces people throw on their cars.  No purpose, barely decorative, and trying to be something it's not.

PeeJayEss

February 16, 2011, 09:13:09 AM
Anyway, I have a new proposal for Monroe Street.  That proposal would be to convert a lane of the street into a 12' bike friendly multiuse path, straight through downtown (a 12' path could also be built through the park).  Considering Forsyth Street better facilities heavy auto movement, Monroe could be looked at as an east/west bike arterial.  Here is an example of this in DT St. Petersburg (below).[/i]

I like this ^.

Also, it hardly looks like you could fit a street in there.

Lucasjj

February 16, 2011, 09:16:50 AM
Nice letter, and glad to see the TU put this out there. However, you said you went out and took pictures with the TU's Mike Clark. Is there any chance this becomes a story, rather than just a letter? I would think a story would get more views, plus it could include the above graphic, which would help people visualize what is going on.

thelakelander

February 16, 2011, 09:20:55 AM
Don't know.  He had his camera, took pictures and notes.  He also has the pdf version of the graphic in this thread.  Hopefully, they'll use them.

Dog Walker

February 16, 2011, 09:37:19 AM
Quote
Side note- From above, that front portico looks awful.  It doesn't connect to the building at all.  How Tacky!!  It's like the fake chrome accent pieces people throw on their cars.  No purpose, barely decorative, and trying to be something it's not.

It's a copy of the Temple of Athena in Athens except that it is going to have a giant, gold and ivory statue of Judge Moran in it instead of the goddess.

KuroiKetsunoHana

February 16, 2011, 02:18:45 PM
^i hope you're joking.  that sounds like just about the tackiëst thing imaginable.

dougskiles

February 16, 2011, 08:17:26 PM
I absolutely LOVE the bike lane concept.  What would it connect to?

thelakelander

February 16, 2011, 08:25:45 PM
Off the top of my head, if JTA would incorporate bike lanes with their downtown BRT project (they're reconstructing Jefferson and Broad on the Northbank), it would directly tie into Hendricks Blvd/San Jose via Broad Street, right at the courthouse square.  Going north (again, if we could get JTA to incorporate it into their BRT plans) it could connect DT with Shands, Springfield and points north, including the Hogans Creek Greenway.  As Jacksonville's inner city bike network is developed, it could serve as a major east/west bikeway arterial through the downtown core.

Ocklawaha

February 16, 2011, 08:37:06 PM

The Temple of Artemis (DIANA) at Ephesus.


Complete with a temple court, the most beautiful prostitutes in the ancient world.


Temple Moran in Jacksonville.


Complete with a golden statue of Judge Moran...

Hey, why do the Greeks get the hookers and all we get is a few hundred tons of gold?


OCKLAWAHA





Ocklawaha

February 16, 2011, 09:02:21 PM







Imagine, Jacksonville looking like the 3rd World!

OCKLAWAHA

Charles Hunter

February 16, 2011, 09:11:01 PM
Lake - are you talking about shared bike/bus lanes, or widening the streets to handle both?  Do you know if JTA is planning on widening the streets anyway?  I've heard that the big cost in making downtown streets wider is in redoing the drainage.

thelakelander

February 16, 2011, 09:23:00 PM
On Monroe/Pearl, the travelway realm looks to be around 40' wide, which is pretty typical of downtown's streets.  I propose a simple restriping effort to create about 12' of space for multiuse path.  

As for Broad and Jefferson, if they are going to improve them by rebuilding the sidewalks, curbs, etc. (it appears they are in the preliminary engineering plans I've seen), they have the opportunity through design to also incorporate a 4' wide bike lane on each street.  

Charles Hunter

February 16, 2011, 09:51:43 PM
Interesting.

coredumped

February 16, 2011, 09:57:46 PM
A bike path would be an awesome idea!

TheProfessor

February 16, 2011, 11:28:34 PM
I think it is obvious what should be done...I emailed city council and go no response.

TheProfessor

February 16, 2011, 11:29:13 PM
Is there an educated urban planner that is making this decision????

Ocklawaha

February 16, 2011, 11:32:20 PM
Yup! Jacksonville's bestest, he done gradgeeated the 3rd grade!

OCKLAWAHA   ;D

Dog Walker

February 17, 2011, 08:11:36 AM
^i hope you're joking.  that sounds like just about the tackiëst thing imaginable.

KKH, Ock and I are being VERY sarcastic and criticizing the very hackneyed architecture of the new courthouse.

PeeJayEss

February 17, 2011, 11:23:40 AM


Curious if you know how this set up is working? Is it very outer lanes are for cars, 2nd row of lanes for bikes, and small inner rows for peds? I only see cars to the very outside, and plenty of bikers in the 2nd rows of lanes (which appear about car lane sized). Can't tell if its bikers or walkers in the very middle (I'm seeing at least 5 lane areas). Regardless, thats a pretty big "highway"

mtraininjax

February 17, 2011, 11:32:49 AM
Quote
I emailed city council and go no response.

Really? No kidding? I bet you live in Corrigan's district, he is worthless. But our corp offices are in Redman's and his staff did respond immediately to our corporate concern recently. Go direct to your councilperson. You'll get better results, usually, unless you are in Corrigan's district.

KuroiKetsunoHana

February 17, 2011, 02:04:02 PM
^i hope you're joking.  that sounds like just about the tackiëst thing imaginable.

KKH, Ock and I are being VERY sarcastic and criticizing the very hackneyed architecture of the new courthouse.

oh, good.  i should've realized, but i've been sick and thinking slowly.

ronchamblin

February 18, 2011, 10:23:58 PM
     Has anyone suggested allowing Monroe to have slow curve around the "north" side of the courthouse, and making Duval 2-way?  This would prevent the somewhat awkward Tee into Clay Street.  It does seem somewhat wasteful to have a large exit from I-95 abruptly Tee into a street only several blocks from I-95.  This would also satisfy some of the business owners who have been used to directing customers on a direct path down Laura to the city core.  For example Jerry Moran and me, both of us having businesses right down Monroe, may go out of business unless our customers can have a direct shoot down Monroe from I-95. 

     Seriously though.  I like the idea of the proposal to avoid having Monroe go in front of the courthouse.  That would be too much asphalt, and would give space for people and landscaping.   

thelakelander

February 18, 2011, 10:42:23 PM
Ron, how have you survived so far? Monroe has been closed the entire time the book store on Laura has been open. Besides, getting to your location from I-95 can be done using Forsyth to Laura (when the streetscape is complete). Doing so, you'll make the same amount of turns as you would using a new Monroe. The major difference is that it will cost taxpayers $2 million less.

ronchamblin

February 18, 2011, 10:47:46 PM
Okay Lake.  So I'm an idiot.  Thanks.  I forgot that Laura will be two way, and this will solve our problem.  First mistake I've ever made. 

Charles Hunter

February 20, 2011, 10:19:44 AM
The lead editorial in today's TU endorses the MetroJacksonville position, "Monroe Street: Two Urban Wrongs" and even cites Ennis Davis.
http://jacksonville.com/opinion/editorials/2011-02-20/story/monroe-street-two-urban-wrongs

thelakelander

February 20, 2011, 08:35:33 PM
Nice!!!

fsujax

February 20, 2011, 09:00:27 PM
I agree this is the way to go! shout out to Lake! for the article!

tufsu1

February 20, 2011, 10:39:40 PM
looks like the personal tour Mr. Clark was given of the courthouse area was helpful

stephendare

February 21, 2011, 09:15:26 AM
Wow.

Thats pretty strong stuff!  And the end quote finally summarizes what many on this site have been asking for four years.


Great Job, Ennis, TUFSU1 and Fieldafm!

 
Quote
Let's pretend

It shouldn't take much time. Extending Monroe Street is based on pretending that a massive new building isn't blocking the way.

The new looping, swerving Monroe Street will look like a service road, an invitation for people to drop off passengers, perhaps even a security issue.

Besides, the idea that drivers are being inconvenienced doesn't apply. The Forsyth Street exit downtown comes first for northbound traffic on Interstate 95 and is more convenient for drivers looking for the parking garage to the south of the courthouse.

In fact, eastbound drivers on Monroe Street would have to double back to reach the entrance to the courthouse parking garage.

Think of pedestrians

As urban planner Ennis Davis wrote on these pages Tuesday, the new Monroe Street design would give traffic priority over pedestrians downtown.

It's all about envisioning downtown as a livable neighborhood or just a place to escape from.

Closing Monroe Street would allow for a pedestrian park, more access to street-level retail, urban bicycle paths and other amenities. And it probably would be cheaper than building the road.

Besides, if most interior downtown streets become two-way, then many of the inconveniences of driving downtown are removed. Davis notes that one-way streets would be left around the perimeter of the downtown core, such as Broad-Jefferson and State-Union.

Turning Monroe Street into a winding path around the courthouse is like cramming a round street into a straight hole.

Downtown has more than enough concrete. That new courthouse could use some trees, some gardens and a parklike setting.

The time to protect Monroe Street was before the courthouse was built on top of it.

If it was a mistake to place the new courthouse on Monroe Street, then let's not make another one.

That winding street looks ridiculous. We have been getting along just fine with a closed Monroe Street.

If completed, it can only lead to that unofficial motto of urban planning known to Jacksonville residents:

What were they thinking?

TheProfessor

February 21, 2011, 12:50:53 PM
Any update on what's going on with the road decision???

thelakelander

February 26, 2011, 05:41:53 PM
Monroe Street: yes or no?

Quote
He said the distance from the north edge of the proposed Monroe Street to the steps of the new Courthouse is less than 45 feet and the distance to Adams Street is less than 75 feet.

“It’s a common-sense issue. There’s not enough geography to drop a road in there,” said Barton.

Board member Andy Sikes responded after Barton’s presentation.

“If we put Monroe Street back, we’ll create the worst urban design disaster in history,” he said.

“Trying to squeeze Monroe Street back into this plan would be diabolical,” said board member Tim Miller.

When asked if there is any opposition to eliminating Monroe Street from the site plan, Barton said there is and that architect Ted Pappas is the most vocal opponent.

At that point, the board directed Barton to invite Pappas to attend its next meeting to present his views.

Full article: http://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/downtowntoday.php?dt_date=2011-02-25

dougskiles

February 26, 2011, 05:56:20 PM
This should make for some great entertainment.  Do you think he will accept the invitation?

Quote
DDRB meets at 2 p.m. March 31 in the JEDC board room at 1 W. Adams St.

Ajax

March 23, 2011, 02:07:19 PM
I just saw this on the T-U website by Paul Pinkham:

Quote
Chief Circuit Judge Donald Moran and Mayor John Peyton are planning to meet in the morning with City Council members for a look-see at the new Duval County Courthouse and its proximity to Monroe Street.

The group will gather at the Ed Ball Building at 10:30 then proceed to the construction site. The purpose of the meeting, according to the mayor's office, is "to examine the proximity of Monroe Street to the courthouse facility."

Whether to close Monroe Street has been a hot topic of debate. The new courthouse blocks the current route, but some on the council want to wind it around the building.

Here's the link: http://jacksonville.com/opinion/blog/422234/paul-pinkham/2011-03-23/chief-judge-mayor-and-council-examine-proximity-new

cityimrov

March 25, 2011, 06:40:55 AM
I don't mine Monroe Street being rebuilt long as they make the portion that runs through the courthouse unappealing to car traffic.  

I'm thinking brick roads which make your car bounce, must yield to pedestrians signs everywhere, and basically do everything they can to make that road a hassle to drive through should someone really want to.  

tufsu1

March 25, 2011, 07:57:12 AM
Here's an update from yesterday's walking tour

http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2011-03-25/story/jacksonville-mayor-pushes-monroe-street-closure-citing-safety-issues

thelakelander

March 25, 2011, 08:10:22 AM
Any idea why no one has mentioned the price tag associated with building a street verses not building one.

Buckethead!

March 25, 2011, 08:15:51 AM
Someone has asphalt to sell?

"Automotive traffic, meet pedestrian... Pedestrian; Automotive."

*"Pleased to make your acquaintance."*

thelakelander

May 01, 2011, 04:14:03 PM
The Council's Transportation, Energy & Utilities Committee will be meeting at 2pm on Monday to decide on if they approve of closing Monroe Street in favor of a public square (#2011-164).  Looking at the agenda, I also noticed they will be holding a public hearing on the Concurrency/Mobility Plan Temporary Moratorium (#2011-237) as well.  The public will be able to make comments regarding both of these issues.
 
The meeting will be held at:
 
Council Chamber
First Floor, City Hall
117 W. Duval Street
 
Here is a link to the agenda: http://citycirc.coj.net/coj/CurrentYear/ttee/91-MAY-02-2011.htm

tufsu1

May 01, 2011, 09:03:58 PM
I encourage folks to attend Monday's TEU meeting...if that's not possible, please send an e-mail or call your council members by tomorrow morning...specifically Bishiop and Corrigan.

Dashing Dan

May 01, 2011, 09:28:03 PM
I plan to be there.

Ralph W

May 01, 2011, 10:34:34 PM
I recall that the decision makers recently walked through the site to get a feel for the project - public mall or public street.

If any of them had an ounce of gray matter that wasn't as cluttered, blocked and dangerous as a new Monroe Street would be there should be no question that the vote would go to: MALL!

thelakelander

June 20, 2011, 04:52:26 PM
Wow, that came up pretty quietly.  One can only wonder why our downtown is so screwed up.  Well this Monroe Street/Courthouse debacle is a great example.  Let's at least hope the thing can be designed in a context sensitive manner to keep pedestrians from getting mowed over.

Dashing Dan

June 20, 2011, 05:05:47 PM
The only way to make it context sensitive would be to restrict that part of the thoroughfare to pedestrians only.  Not such a wild idea really. 

It's generally passe these days, but  over the past 30 years plenty of downtown streets have been designated for NO auto traffic.

stephendare

June 20, 2011, 05:08:20 PM
this isnt the final vote though, is it?

Captain Zissou

June 20, 2011, 05:11:06 PM
A quote from the TU:

Quote


Westsiders appreciate the entry way to Downtown staying open. Sad the outgoing Mayor was so out of touch with the people from the Westside.

Conservative Westsider

Yes, quite sad that our old mayor didn't pander to the Westside.  The post below it was actually wonderful.  There is no reason whatsoever to re-open the street.  Jack Webb is trying to fast track a lot of issues and not necessarily for the best interests of the city, in my opinion. I'm not sure his motive, but I don't love the way it looks.

thelakelander

June 20, 2011, 05:16:29 PM
this isnt the final vote though, is it?

No.  The final vote will go before council next week.

Dashing Dan

June 20, 2011, 05:23:13 PM
A quote from the TU:

Quote


Westsiders appreciate the entry way to Downtown staying open. Sad the outgoing Mayor was so out of touch with the people from the Westside.

Conservative Westsider

"staying open" ?  What about the very large building that is blocking the way?

Ajax

June 20, 2011, 05:55:51 PM
Don't they realize that by not building the road they would save money?  Who doesn't want to be the City Councilmember who votes to save the city some money by not spending it on an idiotic and unnecessary project? 

thelakelander

June 20, 2011, 05:57:31 PM
They don't care about saving money.  A lot of the proponents of building a new Monroe Street have this position because it's the opposite of what mayor and JEDC want.

Dashing Dan

June 20, 2011, 06:01:17 PM
I doubt that this piece of thoroughfare will ever actually be built, so I doubt that very much money will either be saved or wasted.  This looks more like saving face or passing the buck or something.

thelakelander

June 20, 2011, 06:04:02 PM
I hope you're right.

Dashing Dan

June 20, 2011, 07:23:10 PM
I hope so too. 

It's mainly that when I look at where it's supposed to go, it is impossible for me to visualize this project

jcjohnpaint

June 20, 2011, 07:33:40 PM
I think that this decision is so asinine.  If we want to know what is wrong with downtown look at the council members who voted to have this street kept open.  Get rid of them and things will begin to progress.  What is funny is that the tax payers will pay to have the street reopened for what ever reason/ someone will get hit and then we will pay for it to be closed as originally planned. 

thelakelander

June 20, 2011, 09:34:42 PM
Pretty much.  One can only wonder why we have a +$60 million budget deficit.  If it does get built, I can see it being shut down soon after the courthouse opens due to security reasons.  At that point, I guess it will be an expensive pedestrian promenade designed to handle arterial auto/truck traffic.

Miss Fixit

June 21, 2011, 12:09:07 AM
Do we know the identity of the three council  members, in addition to Bishop, voting for this?

I think an email campaign to encourage everyone else on the council to vote to keep Monroe closed is in order!

tufsu1

June 21, 2011, 08:22:42 AM
having talked with Councilman Bishop about this issue, I believe it needs to wait for the new administration....Bishop, and others, see it as a power grab by Peyton as well as Chief Judge Moran

Kay

June 21, 2011, 09:39:45 AM
having talked with Councilman Bishop about this issue, I believe it needs to wait for the new administration....Bishop, and others, see it as a power grab by Peyton as well as Chief Judge Moran

Why do they see it as a power grab?  I don't understand that mentality.  Ron Barton says the cost is the same whether closed or open.

PeeJayEss

June 21, 2011, 09:49:18 AM
So, was this vote on whether to rebuild Monroe St? Or was it a vote on whether to consider the proposal to rebuild Monroe St? Basically, were they voting to later have a vote on this? If so, maybe they just want it to look like they are thoughtfully considering this, and they'll just vote it down when the time comes.

jcjohnpaint

June 21, 2011, 10:06:29 AM
it sounds like political bs bickering to me.  Do something for the people for once and maybe we will start moving somewhere. 

Fallen Buckeye

June 21, 2011, 10:16:54 AM
Quote
Barton said a plaza could be designed and engineered in two to three months if the council approve that, and either project would have the same cost and fit in existing budgets.

Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2011-06-21/story/monroe-street-closure-heads-jacksonville-city-council-after-defeat#ixzz1Pv3m1nFW


My question is how can it cost the same to not build a road as to engineer a a completely new stretch of road? That's why this bill isn't drumming up any support. If you're building such a fancy plaza that it costs the same to build as a road, then you're taking away one of your best arguments for not rebuilding the road in many eyes: cost savings on this boondoggle. You can always improve the plaza later if you plan it out right.

Miss Fixit

June 21, 2011, 10:29:19 AM
A simple lawn / plaza should be much less expensive to construct than a downtown road in this location.

thelakelander

June 21, 2011, 10:39:10 AM
You all are right.  I find it pretty difficult to believe that a plaza costs the same thing as building a two block arterial road.  The basic components of a public square should be trees, sod and sidewalks.  Even if you build a road, those same basic components, along with the addition of asphalt, traffic signals, curbing, etc. will still be included.  The only conclusion I can come up with is that the public space they've proposed must be over-engineered with amenities (expensive palms, super wide sidewalks with pavers, etc.) that we can probably do without.

Expensive amenities can always be added at a later date with private funds, such as what Lakeland has done with the development of Lake Mirror Park: http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2011-apr-lakelands-green-treasure-lake-mirror-park

fsujax

June 21, 2011, 10:41:20 AM
someone should be able to request a copy of the Plaza plan. This makes no sense to me. Bishop was the Friendship Fountain opening Sat morning, you would think they he would be in support of creating a nice public space in front of the Courthouse. What a disaster.

jcjohnpaint

June 21, 2011, 10:50:50 AM
Great idea to create a public space on the cheap and fix it up later. 

thelakelander

August 21, 2011, 10:38:40 PM
You all are right.  I find it pretty difficult to believe that a plaza costs the same thing as building a two block arterial road.  The basic components of a public square should be trees, sod and sidewalks.  Even if you build a road, those same basic components, along with the addition of asphalt, traffic signals, curbing, etc. will still be included.  The only conclusion I can come up with is that the public space they've proposed must be over-engineered with amenities (expensive palms, super wide sidewalks with pavers, etc.) that we can probably do without.

Expensive amenities can always be added at a later date with private funds, such as what Lakeland has done with the development of Lake Mirror Park: http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2011-apr-lakelands-green-treasure-lake-mirror-park

What I described in the post has a good chance of happening.  On Friday, I attended a meeting chaired by Councilman Don Redman about revisiting the idea of keeping Monroe Street closed.  Everybody in the room, including Redman, Councilman Robin Lumb, Councilwoman Lori Boyer, Chris Flagg, Ron Barton, Judge Moran, etc. made great points for keeping the road closed.  They included:

- While already budgeted, the road would cost taxpayers +$800,000.

- If built, the road would generate traffic gridlock.

- When the council approved to keep the road open, the building being designed was a highrise.  The building constructed today, is a completely different footprint that makes the reconstruction of Monroe Street a waste.

- The drop off lane for the courthouse will be at Adams and Clay, regardless of whether Monroe Street is rebuilt.

However, an idea by Chris Flagg and Councilwoman Lori Boyer was the best thing to come out of the meeting.  When the JEDC tried to develop a public square, they attempted to have the potential road's ROW abandoned and failed.  Councilwoman Boyer suggests an option of simply not doing anything.....an expensive public space or road.  Such a move would save the city $800k and give the new administration and whatever replaces JEDC time to work the space into an overall plan for downtown.  With the help of Landscape Architect Chris Flagg, Councilwoman Boyer suggested taking the courthouse's $250,000 landscaping budget and using it to construct a "no-frill"s greenspace instead of placing a ton of expensive trees to buffer the courthouse from a new Monroe Street.  Chris Flagg mentioned he'd do the landscape plan revisions for free and that a decent public space could be created with $250k. 

Since the road money is BJP funds, it could be reallocated to other areas of need within the city's bloated budget.  A win, win if you ask me.  No road and keep some other needed service from getting cut in the process.  Max Marbut from the Daily Record should have a story on this in the next couple of days.  It will be interesting to see if it includes some comments from those who have previously been in favor of building a road.  Not only is it a danger for all, it's also nearly $600k more expensive than a simple "no-frills" greenspace. 

In closing, I suggested they attempt to pull off Councilwoman Boyer's innovative idea and follow what Lakeland did with Lake Mirror Park. 

http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2011-apr-lakelands-green-treasure-lake-mirror-park

If the city can get a basic park space in there (imagine "movies in the park" with the Ed Ball Building serving as a giant screen or pick up soccer games), private funds could be leveraged for amenities like fountains and playscapes if the council remains against utilizing the $629,000 set aside for public art.



A festival or mobile food truck crawl at Courthouse Square?  It could happen.....

JeffreyS

August 22, 2011, 10:29:07 AM
I can not make it today but I hope some from here will be.  I would like to see Monroe remain a public square and the Mobility plan moving ahead at breakneck speed.

thelakelander

August 22, 2011, 11:03:33 AM
There's nothing going on today.  The meeting was last Friday.

thelakelander

August 22, 2011, 02:42:24 PM
Redman, Boyer seek Monroe ‘timeout’

Quote
City Council members Don Redman and Lori Boyer called Friday for a “timeout” on the heavily debated reopening of Monroe Street in front of the new Duval County Courthouse.

During a meeting they called Friday, Redman said he and Boyer will immediately pursue submitting new legislation that can be considered before a contract is awarded.

“We need to try and stop that,” he said.

Chief Circuit Judge Donald Moran went on the record at the meeting that he opposed the reopening of Monroe Street in front of the new courthouse under construction.

“All the professionals who have looked at this recommended that it be closed.” said Moran. “I’ve ridden down Adams Street and I don’t see how anybody could support putting a road there.”

Boyer and Redman called the meeting to discuss a policy change regarding the reopening of Monroe Street in front of the courthouse. The building is scheduled to open next summer.

Full article: http://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/downtowntoday.php?dt_date=2011-08-22

duvaldude08

August 22, 2011, 05:40:09 PM
I hope they dont rebuild this thing. Its seem that the majority is against it. Hopefully the new council uses their brain on this one.

thelakelander

May 11, 2012, 07:27:06 PM
Now that the courthouse is nearing completion, one can get a better idea of what type of space we were dealing with.  We've done some pretty foolish things in downtown's history but I can't believe people really wanted to force an arterial street between Adams and the courthouse steps.  Also, are we really leaving that traffic signal in the middle of the sidewalk?





Dog Walker

May 12, 2012, 08:11:06 AM
That traffic signal is going to be connected to a control in Judge Moran's office so that he can turn it red when he sees someone he doesn't like approaching.

Your pictures are a reminder of just what an ugly, pretentious mess that courthouse is.  What was the architect thinking?

WmNussbaum

May 12, 2012, 08:23:17 AM
Fifty years from now someone will be on a soapbox begging for it not to torn down or crying because it was.

Ralph W

May 12, 2012, 08:43:43 AM
Why do landscapers think that straight lines of palm trees are the cats meow?  I think that feature is severely overused. Guess there aren't many alternatives in Florida and no one has opened a magazine or taken a fact finding tour out of our area.

Jdog

May 12, 2012, 10:11:04 AM
+ 1

Been all about creating an urban canopy all over the place for years now. 

I just sometimes feel that the definition of catching up here is progressing to where everybody else was 20 years ago.   

thelakelander

May 12, 2012, 10:53:10 AM
Fifty years from now someone will be on a soapbox begging for it not to torn down or crying because it was.

It will probably fall apart by then.

stephendare

May 12, 2012, 02:15:50 PM
It was Crescimbini and Ted Pappas that were so crazed about this wasn't it?

KennyLovesJAX

May 12, 2012, 02:18:16 PM
WHAT IS SSSSSSSSSSOOOOOOOOOOO BAD ABOUT THIS BUILDING??? i see my fellow jacksonvillians shooting down every little thing about this new courthouse...........it CANT be that bad??

thelakelander

May 12, 2012, 02:28:28 PM
In terms of architecture or price tag?

comncense

May 12, 2012, 02:34:06 PM
Was their ever a decision made about the green space that will be in front of the courthouse? As far as flexible use goes.

thelakelander

May 12, 2012, 02:41:40 PM
I think they are going to sod and call it a day, at least for a year.

buckethead

May 12, 2012, 03:33:09 PM
In terms of architecture or price tag?

Nice!

KennyLovesJAX

May 12, 2012, 03:44:02 PM
ok, i know the price of the courthouse was steep, but the architecture is a wonderful art form, its a beautiful building, you have to admit that!

ChriswUfGator

May 12, 2012, 04:39:12 PM
ok, i know the price of the courthouse was steep, but the architecture is a wonderful art form, its a beautiful building, you have to admit that!

You forgot the "lol jk"....

Charles Hunter

May 12, 2012, 04:53:30 PM
Beautiful if this were Mayberry, and it were 1920.

Ocklawaha

May 12, 2012, 05:21:53 PM
ok, i know the price of the courthouse was steep, but the architecture is a wonderful art form, its a beautiful building, you have to admit that!

Still looks like an explosion in a pillar factory.

OCK

Dog Walker

May 12, 2012, 05:40:18 PM
KLJ,  If you are being serious:  The building is a derivative of a derivative.  It's not even good neo-classical.  The look was old by the 1920's.

For the price of one you get two; two Greek temples mashed together and blown up all out of proportion.  The windows that are almost flat with the facade give it a dead eyed look and they are going to leak like crazy.  No wonder Ted Pappas likes it, all of his buildings leak too and compared to this, his are masterpieces of restraint.

"Explosion is a column factory" is a kind description.

Let's hope the inside is better designed and more functional than the outside.  I'm not betting any money on it, however.

brainstormer

May 12, 2012, 05:41:41 PM
It might be ugly as hell, but at least it will have new furniture.  ;D

Anti redneck

May 12, 2012, 06:59:57 PM
Personally I don't think the courthouse looks bad. I would not have tried to make it look like the royal palace, though. It's just a courthouse. I don't know of any tourists that want to see the different courthouses all over the world. If anything, I'd rather see it made into a convention center and keep the old courthouse open.

I-10east

May 12, 2012, 08:25:42 PM
All of the new courthouse haters think that it's asinine and unreasonable for someone else (like Kenny, anti-redneck, and me among others) to think that it doesn't look so bad; Remember guys, we have to drill the propaganda in our heads, WE MUST HATE IT!!! SMH. 

Anti redneck

May 12, 2012, 10:09:18 PM
^ I don't think it looks ugly by any means. In a few years, after it's finally open (keeping fingers it opens this year), who's going to care what it looks like?

Also, I'm not a courthouse hater. It was ridiculous of the hoops that had to gone through just to get it open, though. Those who curse the courthouse I think need to just get over it. In the end, it doesn't matter how it cost; all this hate toward stuff like this just keep the city from moving forward. Time to start thinking like a city and that means to stop bitching about the courthouse.

Keith-N-Jax

May 12, 2012, 10:29:01 PM
I-10East you just about like everything the city does despite how stupid it may be, but hey that's just an opinion like the people who dislike the new grand courthouse.

JeffreyS

May 13, 2012, 12:03:53 AM
I'm a hater, it's an ugly ass sprawlville campus in the middle of downtown. Six freaking blocks of low rise and parking garages interrupting any future pedestrian activity and connectivity.  We could have built a clone of the Federal courthouse with continuing construction for a quarter of the cost, quarter of the time and a better outcome.  I hate the new courthouse and all of the asinine efforts of the people who brought it into being.  We need to make the best of it now but to put even a small bit of praise it's way is ridiculous.

I-10east

May 13, 2012, 01:14:48 AM
We need to make the best of it now but to put even a small bit of praise it's way is ridiculous.

Is "it doesn't look so bad" a 'ridiculous' amount of Courthouse praise? I don't think so.

I-10east

May 13, 2012, 01:23:02 AM
I-10East you just about like everything the city does despite how stupid it may be, but hey that's just an opinion like the people who dislike the new grand courthouse.

I like the way you flipped that around, it's the people that aren't 'extremely angered' at the Courthouse that are outnumbered here. We all know your (and many others) Courthouse opinions that you are gonna repeat 42 times in the near future; Hell, I'm used to that, but to act like everybody gotta hate the courthouse is crazy. I guess the people that are okay with the courthouse know how to 'move on' and not increase the blood pressure which IS good for the overall health ya know.

I-10east

May 13, 2012, 01:34:11 AM
^ I don't think it looks ugly by any means. In a few years, after it's finally open (keeping fingers it opens this year), who's going to care what it looks like?

Also, I'm not a courthouse hater. It was ridiculous of the hoops that had to gone through just to get it open, though. Those who curse the courthouse I think need to just get over it. In the end, it doesn't matter how it cost; all this hate toward stuff like this just keep the city from moving forward. Time to start thinking like a city and that means to stop bitching about the courthouse.

I already know, your preaching to the choir. We don't hate the courthouse, but somehow mainstream MJ says that we are supposed to hate it mainly because it isn't twenty stories tall; If it was built to mainstream MJ standards, the 'outrage by going overbudget' incessant talk would be on the backburner.

JFman00

May 13, 2012, 01:53:41 AM
I'm offended by it because it's like someone took a suburban office park, told an architect "make it look courthousey" and then wrote a check for a couple hundred million dollars. Brutalism may be ugly but at least it still has a distinct identity.

Not sure if this has been posted in here, but the courthouse earns special mention by The Atlantic's city blog as "something an 18th century architect might have dreamed up to be 'futuristic'"
http://www.theatlanticcities.com/design/2012/04/hit-and-miss-architecture-new-courthouses/1861/

JeffreyS

May 13, 2012, 09:12:41 AM
We are not complaining about everything there have been two courthouses built downtown recently one terrible one really nice and less than half the price.



350Mil

100 mil

Tacachale

May 13, 2012, 09:36:58 AM
For the record I don't hate the courthouse because it's not 20 stories tall. I hate it because we threw out a good design and replaced it with an awful one and allowed the cost to explode. I cannot believe we built it.

On the upside we can still make the facility as functional as possible, and if we take care of it it could last us several decades, so we won't have to worry about a new one in many of our lifetimes.

Dog Walker

May 13, 2012, 12:05:04 PM
Yes, It's the missed opportunity to do something original and good and smart that really chaps more than the look of what has been built. 
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