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Walkable Commercial Districts: Brooklyn's Park Street

Brooklyn's Park Street is a walkable commercial district that is anchored by a number of businesses in the paint, floral and linen industries.

Published May 12, 2011 in Neighborhoods      13 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

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Brooklyn History

The 300-acre Brooklyn subdivision, platted in 1868 by Confederate veteran Miles Price.  The neighborhood contained thirty blocks between McCoy's Creek and Price Street.  Six east-west streets, extending from the river to Cedar Street (now Chelsea Street), were largely named for various tree species.  Occupying federal sources found Brooklyn an attractive overlook of the river and convenient to downtown.  Consequently, a small garrison was stationed in the southwestern edge of Brooklyn in the late 1860s to help restore order in the war-torn city before occupying forces left in 1869.

During the 1880's and 90's, Brooklyn developed primarily as a residential neighborhood due to its proximity to railroads, lumber mills, docks and wharves.  The community would be annexed by the City of Jacksonville in 1887 and by 1893, the neighborhood contained over 250 buildings.  Middle and upper middle class white families constructed substantial homes along Commercial (Riverside) Avenue.  However, the majority of houses were small wood structures occupied by African-Americans, many whom migrated to Jacksonville after the Civil War to take advantage of employment and housing opportunities.  Located to the west of Riverside Avenue, these structures reflected the simple frame vernacular styles of traditional worker houses.

After the Great Fire of 1901, rapid growth in downtown Jacksonville resulted in the gradual replacement of many residences by commercial and industrial uses, along both Commercial and Pine (Park) Streets.  Early commercial and industrial entities in the area included the Jacksonville Traction Company streetcar barn and power plant (1903), Delcher Brothers warehouse (1910), the Yale Steam Laundry, the Jacksonville Concrete Company, and the Lubin Manufacturing Company (film studio).

Following World War II, the neighborhood began to decline as the railroad's importance in the immediate vicinity declined and the Jacksonville Expressway System severed the community from its adjacent neighborhoods.  Road widening projects and failed redevelopment strategies would result in the majority of Brooklyn's historic building stock being demolished over the last two decades.  Today, Brooklyn's Park Street is one of the few corridors in the neighborhood where the majority of its historic and mid-20th century building stock still remains in place.

Source: Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission



This aerial view captures Brooklyn during the neighborhood's heyday. Via the old viaduct, extending across the terminal railyards and McCoys Creek, Park Street can be seen splitting the neighborhood in half at the bottom of this 1946 image, courtesy of Florida State Archives.



Park Street can be seen in the upper-right corner of this image of the Jacksonville Terminal, taken between 1960 and 1979, courtesy of Florida State Archives.



Park Street Today




Alsco Inc. is a global uniform & linen rental company that started in 1889 as door-to-door delivery of clean linens from a horse-drawn cart.  Alsco purchased this Park Street facility from National Service Industries, Inc. in 2003.



Brinton's Paint Company has over 7,000 square feet of showroom space and 5,000 square feet of additional warehouse space to serve your painting requirements.

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Incorporated in 1957, this Company has served the Jacksonville area by selling quality paints and painting supplies to the Commercial, Industrial and Painting Markets, as well as Homeowners.

Owned and managed by Burk and Bob Brinton, and staffed with dedicated and experienced personnel, which include Bob's sons, Jeremy and Jason, this Professional Paint Company has earned the reputation of being one of the best in Jacksonville, for service, quality products, and very competitive store wide discount pricing.
http://brintonspaint.com/aboutus.html



Pennock Jacksonville has been providing fresh flowers and floral supplies to area florists and related trades for decades.  Pennock was originally founded in 1882 by Charles E. Pennock in Philadelphia, PA.









Blp Jacksonville Paint Company






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Once a Warehouse, This building built in 1922 was converted into an 8,000 square foot reception hall, with a 1700 square foot dance floor. A nostalgic look featuring a large open arched ceiling with an old world brick wall interior. Consider us for your wedding, reception or other special event.

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This building has had many uses since 1922. It was first a car dealership. The main dance hall is where the cars were stored. It was later a laundry. The floor was slightly sloped to the middle for the water drainage. Because of this, we had to float the dance floor. That is what gives the dance floor the smooth spring it has.  After the laundry, my father ran his business out of it. Roy L Smith ran a theatre wholesale business out this location for over 40 years. He made his own popcorn, roasted his own peanuts and made snowcone and fountain syrup. He at one time sold everything that went into a movie theater, from the carpet to the movie screens. His brand was ROYL. After my father passed, my mother and I gutted the warehouse, replaced the electrical completely, refurbished the plumbing, built new bathrooms, the stage and bar. We also had 20 tons of Air Conditioning installed. We tried to leave much of what the main hall was alone. Other than painting the ceiling and pressure washing the walls, it remains as it was.
www.brooklynroyal.com



Old industrial/warehouse buildings in corridors like Park Street open the door to affordable expansion opportunities for small businesses. Dragonfly Metal Worx is a successful, adaptive, reuse project within the Park Street district.




Context-Sensitive Streets: The Solution to Improving Park Street?

Over the years, Park Street has evolved from a mixed-use residential/retail district into a corridor with a dominate industrial feel to it. Moving forward, Jacksonville's Mobility Plan, JTA's Streetcar Prefeasibility Study, and the North Florida TPO's long-range transportation plan all indicate the possibility of Park Street being used as a streetcar corridor, connecting Riverside with the Jacksonville Transportation Center and Downtown.  

Assuming this plan goes forward in the next couple of years, here are some suggestions to improve the quality and atmosphere of the Park Street corridor.

1. Lane Diet

Like many older commercial corridors, at some point in the past Park Street's on-street parallel parking spaces were replaced with four lanes for automobiles. With the streetcar potentially being added to this corridor, perhaps a couple of automobile lanes should be converted for mass transit and parallel parking. Doing so would help buffer the pedestrian from fast-moving motorized traffic, improve transit reliability, and create space for infill businesses on small lots that don't have room for off-street parking.


Tucson, AZ's Old Pueblo Trolley enjoys its own designated lane for significant stretches. A "lane diet" on Park Street would enable Jacksonville's proposed Riverside Streetcar to have its own lane without purchasing additional right-of-way.


Tampa's TECO Streetcar Line was constructed with its own designated right-of-way, within existing street boundaries.  The same could be done to Park Street, providing the neighborhood with viable mass transit and an anchor proven to attract TOD (transit- oriented development) and infill economic development opportunities.



2. Historic Preservation

The buildings along Park Street may not be as architecturally significant as those in nearby neighborhoods such as the Downtown Northbank and Riverside. However, they are a part of Brooklyn's history and give the area a distinct feel to build upon. In addition, the warehouse structures provide an opportunity for creative uses (see Dragonfly Metal Worx example above) to take place at an affordable rate.



Atlanta's Cabbagetown is a neighborhood similar in character and style to Jacksonville's Brooklyn that has benefited from creative, adaptive reuse and historic preservation.




3. Street Trees

"Given a limited budget, the most effective expenditure of funds to improve a street would probably be on trees. Moreover, for many people, trees are the most important single characteristic of a good street." - Allan B. Jacobs

Street trees are a primary element in providing a sense of safe separation from traffic for pedestrians. Park Street currently appears barren, partially due to being a "green-less" public realm. A simple way to enhance the district's appeal is the planting of street trees along the sidewalks.


This street scene in Atlanta's Cabbagetown is a good example of how to incorporate street trees and greenery in constrained urban conditions.




4. Street Integration

Although Park Street has seen better days, it is still home to a number of active businesses and uses. However, they tend to ignore the street. One simple way to add life to the street and enhance the area's image is work to open adjacent land's interior uses to the street.  Miami's Design District (shown below) does a good job of integrating interior uses with the public realm.








Visiting Brooklyn's Park Street


Brooklyn's Park Street district is located along Park Street between Forest Street and the Jacksonville Terminal (Prime Osborn Convention Center).

Article by Ennis Davis







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13 Comments

urbaknight

May 12, 2011, 11:55:17 AM
Wow, there's a lot more going on than it appears. Not so sure if you could put street trees there, the sidewalks are pretty narrow. I ride the bus throuth there every day. Jackson st has only one house on it. It would be nice if they could rebuild a neighborhood in that area. Then that market on the corner of Jackson and Park could also be reopened. So much more potential than we realize. I hope something comes of our ideas.

cline

May 12, 2011, 04:14:17 PM
It is a joke that this road was ever widened to 4 lanes.  It carries 4,000 vehicles per day.  Absolutely no demand.  Contrast that with the section of Riverside Avenue from Forest to the Acosta ramps which carries 23,000.  This corridor definitely needs a lane diet.  Hopefully the Streetcar can help spur that along :)

sandralark

May 12, 2011, 04:21:55 PM
I work right there on Park in Brooklyn and I think one of the hugest hindrances to foot/bike traffic is the connection to 95 right there on Forest. Don't get me wrong, access to the interstate was a huge help, but I ride my bike in to work every morning and nearly get killed by drivers making the left turn onto Forest.

Not quite sure how to remedy that specific problem, but it would make me feel a bunch better about walking/biking to local shops and using the road as a connection to downtown.

cline

May 12, 2011, 04:33:05 PM
I work right there on Park in Brooklyn and I think one of the hugest hindrances to foot/bike traffic is the connection to 95 right there on Forest. Don't get me wrong, access to the interstate was a huge help, but I ride my bike in to work every morning and nearly get killed by drivers making the left turn onto Forest.

Not quite sure how to remedy that specific problem, but it would make me feel a bunch better about walking/biking to local shops and using the road as a connection to downtown.

The major cause of that is that it is a very wide intersection causing the crosswalk across forest to be very wide (the crosswalk has to cross 6 lanes of traffic including the small dedicated right turn lane on Forest).  Cars making a left turn off of Park onto Forest spend a lot of time in the intersection because it is so wide- which is not good.  Probably the best way to make this safer for peds/bicyclists would be to lengthen the pedestrian signal in the crosswalk to allow peds more time to cross (although I'm not even sure there is a ped signal on the west side of Park.  Another option would be to extend the raised median on Forest (west of Park) to go out into the crosswalk which would creat a pedestrian refuge if you felt like you weren't going to be able to make it all the way across.

thelakelander

May 12, 2011, 06:03:20 PM
Not so sure if you could put street trees there, the sidewalks are pretty narrow. I ride the bus throuth there every day.
A lane diet would create an opportunity for parallel parking and bulb outs with greenery in certain spots. You could also put shade trees in tree grates, similar to the narrow sidewalks in Riverside's Park & King District.

Ocklawaha

May 12, 2011, 08:45:41 PM
The beautiful old marker dedicating the original Lee Street Viaduct, might have been located. This is something I have been working on in my spare time and the city has been a great help. We think we have traced it to a public works yard, but if it's still there or not remains to be seen. It would be fantastic to see it go back up on the north end of that viaduct in front of the station once again. "dedicated... so that the people of Jacksonville may pass..."

Also if or should I say IF FDOT starts rebuilding that bridge, we need to make sure that:

1. streetcar tracks are built in.
2. it gets up and over space for 10-12 tracks. (12 being the USDOT recommendation for Jacksonville's multimodal station).
3. We should push for beautification of the viaduct, and to have the balusters returned to the classic style, which actually compliments the depot, with classic light poles and trolley wire hangers. Anyone too young to remember that beautiful old viaduct need only look at the new bridge over Hogans Creek on Bay Street to get the balusters styling down pat. I don't know who is responsible for that little bridge but kudos to them for doing it right... IE: photogenic, interesting, monumental, classic revival, etc...


OCKLAWAHA

urbaknight

May 13, 2011, 09:47:02 AM
Not so sure if you could put street trees there, the sidewalks are pretty narrow. I ride the bus throuth there every day.
A lane diet would create an opportunity for parallel parking and bulb outs with greenery in certain spots. You could also put shade trees in tree grates, similar to the narrow sidewalks in Riverside's Park & King District.

I like the term, "lane diet".

billy

May 13, 2011, 10:39:12 AM
Some of the Atlanta shots, such as the A&P Lofts, are actually in or across Memorial Drive from Reynoldstown,
which is next to Cabbagetown.

stjr

May 14, 2011, 03:06:17 PM


Quote
Park Street can be seen in the upper-right corner of this image of the Jacksonville Terminal, taken between 1960 and 1979, courtesy of Florida State Archives.

Excuse me, but isn't that Myrtle Avenue in the upper right?  Park Street runs in FRONT of the Terminal as it heads toward its viaduct over the RR.  That puts Park, as it makes the curve to the west to the picture's upper LEFT side.

thelakelander

May 14, 2011, 05:24:43 PM
You are correct. Thanks for finding that typo.

Tacachale

May 19, 2011, 04:36:13 PM
Does anybody know what if anything is going on with the residential development that was planned in this area?

riverside_mail

May 19, 2011, 08:17:32 PM
Dead i
Does anybody know what if anything is going on with the residential development that was planned in this area?
Last I heard, it was dead in the water.

urbaknight

May 20, 2011, 12:32:21 PM
Let's push to bring it back to life. I'm beginning to feel that we on MJ, CAN be the grease in the local wheels of develpoment.
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