Downtown Revitalization: A Broken Record

January 26, 2011 45 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Metro Jacksonville shares a series of quotes over the last 39 years that highlight an inability to stabilize the decline of downtown. Will any of our mayoral candidates have success where predecessors have failed?



Kloeppel Jr. still owns the Mayflower and he and his son, Robert Kloeppel III, are hoping a resurgence of activity in the downtown area will bring in enough business to enable them to reopen it.
 In the meantime, the Kloeppels say they are flushing the toilets at the Mayflower once a week to keep the plumbing working, periodically turning on the air conditioning to keep them operational and biding their time.
FTU Car Park To Replace George Washington Hotel 12/17/72


The day of the big downtown department stores is gone until we get more people living downtown.
Bernard Datz, Downtown Sears manager - FTU Cadillac heads towards Regency - 5/17/81


We can't work forever and we can't stay in business here without watering down the quality of our service.
Herman Rosenblum on the closing of their downtown location - 6/7/81


In 1970s, Jacksonville did not have a practical downtown development plan that the community was willing to support.  Today- twelve years, seven consultants and a million dollars later, it still doesn't.
FTU Starting Over Again 3/7/82


The hotel's fate is "a clear sign that they've (city officials) got to stop horsing around and do something about downtown development.  It is either that or there's no future for the city.
Robert B. Cockayne of May-Cohens - FTU City Center Hotel Checks Out 7/8/82


The convention center is expected to spawn a hotel, perhaps a couple of hotels, restaurants and related development near the now-deserted banks of McCoys Creek.
FTU Downtown: Development plans will expand the city core to several new areas 3/26/83


The renovation of Hemming Plaza has hurt but we're hoping that things will turn around when all that construction is completed.
Jan Ladnier, May-Cohens Spokeswoman - 8/21/85


Downtown is headed for a "complete turnaround."  Projects like the convention center and the Jacksonville Landing would bring more people to the area and that would bring back the big-name merchants.  In the next two to five years you're going to see downtown just absolutely explode.
Larry Hazouri - Downtown Merchant's Associates President 10/2/86


The time has come for Jacksonville to stand tall
David Walters, Omni Hotel general manager 10/14/87


We may see things happening five to ten years down the road, but how many businesses will be here then?  The city's mentality appears largely reactionary, tending to change only when it has to. Jacksonville has a 'cowford' mentality, we don't have any visionaries.
Sam Bucholtz, Luggage Shop, Inc manager 9/22/92


Three decades ago, about 100,000 people worked downtown.
Mike Weinstein - FTU Is Downtown Losing? 10/26/98


It's only productive if it's implemented.  I've seen so many plans in the last 40 years that have talked about the development of downtown that have been put on paper and shelved.
Robert Wilson, Northside resident 11/13/98


Downtown needs a swath of parkland that would attract development along its borders in the same way that the St. Johns River does.
Ted Pappas, Architect - FTU Talk of Downtown 11/13/98


Downtown is going to be dramatically different in 18 months to three years in terms of customers and traffic.
Paul Krutko - FTU Lost Luggage 11/19/00



2011 Mayoral Candidate's Thoughts on Downtown

After 39 years of acknowledging and studying the decline of downtown, along with hundreds of millions in redevelopment gimmicks, things are significantly worse than they were in 1972.  If harnessed correctly, downtown can be an economic gift that keeps on giving in the form of ad valorem taxes. With the opportunity to elect a new mayor this Spring, be sure to review what our candidates have to say about downtown.


Article by Ennis Davis