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Ten Principles for Creating A Successful Hemming Plaza

In 2005, Metro Jacksonville pointed out to the JEDC and Peyton Administration why the Main Street Pocket Park would struggle to succeed if built. We were ignored and $800,000 later, the chickens eventually came home to roost as our warnings became reality. Now that we're destined to repeat the same mistakes with Hemming Plaza, we'd like to take a step back and examine ten principles needed for a successful urban public space, according to Project for Public Spaces. If the council's committee can embrace and plan from this set of principles, Hemming Plaza will be the centerplace of activity once again.

Published April 17, 2012 in Urban Issues      35 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


1. Image and Identity


President Nixon gives a speech at Hemming Park in 1960.

Historically, squares were the center of communities, and they traditionally helped shape the identity of entire cities. Sometimes a fountain was used to give the square a strong image: Think of the majestic Trevi Fountain in Rome or the Swann Fountain in Philadelphia's Logan Circle. The image of many squares was closely tied to the great civic buildings located nearby, such as cathedrals, city halls, or libraries. Today, creating a square that becomes the most significant place in a city--that gives identity to whole communities--is a huge challenge, but meeting this challenge is absolutely necessary if great civic squares are to return.

Hemming Plaza has historically been the civic focal point of downtown Jacksonville.  However, since the opening of the Jacksonville Landing, the public space has been replaced by the Landing's courtyard and Metropolitan Park for many special events.  In the two decades of its abandonment, it is now used as a day center for city that still refuses to invest in a real facility outside of the heart of downtown.Now surrounded by City Hall, City Hall Annex, Jacksonville Public Library, the federal courthouse, and the Ed Ball Building, it still has the potential to be a civic destination.  To ultimately rid the park of its identity crisis, short and long term improvements should focus on the return of increased programming and the creation of a homeless day center.


Turning around Hemming could be as simple as increasing programming or allowing temporary vendors like food trucks to generate additional foot traffic in the immediate vicinity.





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35 Comments

Garden guy

April 17, 2012, 06:29:18 AM
Seems to me that we as a city have been run by it council. We have had a mostly conservative republican council. Republicans are against everything public..except tax breaks for people who don't need them. It seems like an attack on public spaces is on the list...I'm not surprised and i expect more and more dismantling.

mtraininjax

April 17, 2012, 07:16:17 AM
Quote
Republicans are against everything public.

Yeah, well the Republicans did not stop Pat Lockett Felder from erecting a bust of herself in a park on A. Phillip Randolph as a self-serving way of letting her public know she existed. For this our city is certainly much better off.

Jason

April 17, 2012, 09:01:16 AM
Very informative article!  I sure hope the city is reading this and absorbing everything it says.

Losing any of the trees unneccesarily would be a travesty.  IMO, the park really needs very little investment other than cosmetic stuff and better maintenance (pressure washing, paint, cleanup).  The major drawback is the lacking interaction between the surrounding development and the park.  Oh, and BATHROOMS!!!  Maintained Bathrooms!!!

Wacca Pilatka

April 17, 2012, 09:02:14 AM
Those two pictures on page 8 are terrific.  I've never seen either one before.

Kaiser Soze

April 17, 2012, 09:09:29 AM
Very good article.  Its missing one thing: nothing happens in Hemming unless and until the City moves the homeless population out of downtown.  Its the 800 lb gorilla that nobody wants to directly address.

Jason

April 17, 2012, 09:17:26 AM
Its not the problem its perceived to be.  I was in Savannah about a month ago and Forsyth Park was teaming with what appeard to be "Urban outdoorsman", however, the park was alive and very very very active.

Hemming could easily be the same if the surrounding areas had more connections with residential infill development.  Once there are more people living around the park and the activity naturally increases, the perception of the homeless will change.  There are a few bad apples giving the rest of the homeless a bad name.

kells904

April 17, 2012, 09:19:21 AM
Homeless people go wherever "regular" people don't.  If people actually used Hemming, the homeless would either be outnumbered, or gather elsewhere entirely.

fieldafm

April 17, 2012, 09:23:43 AM
Quote
Its missing one thing: nothing happens in Hemming unless and until the City moves the homeless population out of downtown.  Its the 800 lb gorilla that nobody wants to directly address.

The article mentions Union Square.  Homeless spend time there too, however so does everyone else b/c the area is attractive to more than just homeless people. 

It's the same reason that people congregate to Hemming during Art Walk and Jazz Fest.  Homeless people are in Hemming during those times too, but does anyone notice?

THAT's the 800lb guerilla in the room.

The fact that the Ad Hoc Committee on Hemming uses Bryant Park as an example, while failing to acknowledge the complete reconstruction of the park(it was elevated above the street), the constant programming of Bryant, the cafes in the park, the ice skating rink, the free wifi offered in the park, the presence of pop-up shops during the holidays, and on and on(I could write 8 paragraphs on the amenities the park offers)... underscores that same big guerilla.

Removable tables at Bryant shouldn't be viewed in a vacuum, b/c that really was one of the minor moves undertaken to revitilize that area.  By that logic, the Main Street Pocket Park in Jacksonville which has no trees, shade or benches should be teaming with activity... yet, it is only populated by the homeless. 

See a pattern?

JFman00

April 17, 2012, 09:30:01 AM
I don't understand why the homelessness thing is such a motivating factor here. The worst it's been when I've gone downtown is someone asking me for money. Tip: that happens EVERYWHERE. If you can't handle there being poor people, stay in the suburbs where you don't have to see poverty (even though it's there). Chicago, New Orleans, Miami, Pensacola, France, Spain, Germany, Panama, the Philippines. There are poor people, homeless and drunks everywhere, I don't understand why this city is so surprised they exist and congregate in the same places pedestrians are.

Kaiser Soze

April 17, 2012, 09:41:30 AM
The worst it's been when I've gone downtown is someone asking me for money. Tip: that happens EVERYWHERE.
Then I don't think you spend much time down there.  I do.  I've been yelled and cursed at.  Seen male on female violence.  All sorts of stuff.  I have not experienced that in other major cities. 

stay in the suburbs where you don't have to see poverty (even though it's there).
I thought the point was to encourage people to visit downtown???

JFman00

April 17, 2012, 09:47:17 AM
The worst it's been when I've gone downtown is someone asking me for money. Tip: that happens EVERYWHERE.
Then I don't think you spend much time down there.  I do.  I've been yelled and cursed at.  Seen male on female violence.  All sorts of stuff.  I have not experienced that in other major cities. 

That's a police problem to me, not a homeless problem.

stay in the suburbs where you don't have to see poverty (even though it's there).
I thought the point was to encourage people to visit downtown???
[/quote]

My point is that there are going to be homeless people in a downtown and the cost:benefit of trying to displace them isn't worth the effort.

tufsu1

April 17, 2012, 11:16:29 AM
great article Ennis! 

Much of this informatuion presented here will be part of a position paper TransForm Jax will be issuing later today.  It will be dsitributed to members of City Council, the Ad Hoc Committee, and the Mayor's Office.

bill

April 17, 2012, 12:06:54 PM
The worst it's been when I've gone downtown is someone asking me for money. Tip: that happens EVERYWHERE.
Then I don't think you spend much time down there.  I do.  I've been yelled and cursed at.  Seen male on female violence.  All sorts of stuff.  I have not experienced that in other major cities. 

That's a police problem to me, not a homeless problem.

stay in the suburbs where you don't have to see poverty (even though it's there).
I thought the point was to encourage people to visit downtown???

My point is that there are going to be homeless people in a downtown and the cost:benefit of trying to displace them isn't worth the effort.
[/quote]

It is not difficult. This is the largest factor in the revitalization of St Pete.

http://www.stpete.org/socialservices/homelessness/ordinanceslaws.asp

fieldafm

April 17, 2012, 12:23:33 PM
The worst it's been when I've gone downtown is someone asking me for money. Tip: that happens EVERYWHERE.
Then I don't think you spend much time down there.  I do.  I've been yelled and cursed at.  Seen male on female violence.  All sorts of stuff.  I have not experienced that in other major cities. 

That's a police problem to me, not a homeless problem.

stay in the suburbs where you don't have to see poverty (even though it's there).
I thought the point was to encourage people to visit downtown???

My point is that there are going to be homeless people in a downtown and the cost:benefit of trying to displace them isn't worth the effort.

It is not difficult. This is the largest factor in the revitalization of St Pete.

http://www.stpete.org/socialservices/homelessness/ordinanceslaws.asp
[/quote]

All of those same things are already illegal in downtown Jacksonville. 

hightowerlover

April 17, 2012, 12:27:48 PM
Whoever keeps playing with making each of the articles multiple pages, it's annoying.

coredumped

April 17, 2012, 01:31:30 PM
Whoever keeps playing with making each of the articles multiple pages, it's annoying.

I hate to be negative because the article itself is very good, but I have to agree - the multi-page stuff is very annoying. Also off-topic, there should be a site-discussion forum:)

Kaiser Soze

April 17, 2012, 01:38:37 PM
The worst it's been when I've gone downtown is someone asking me for money. Tip: that happens EVERYWHERE.
Then I don't think you spend much time down there.  I do.  I've been yelled and cursed at.  Seen male on female violence.  All sorts of stuff.  I have not experienced that in other major cities. 

That's a police problem to me, not a homeless problem.

stay in the suburbs where you don't have to see poverty (even though it's there).
I thought the point was to encourage people to visit downtown???

My point is that there are going to be homeless people in a downtown and the cost:benefit of trying to displace them isn't worth the effort.

It is not difficult. This is the largest factor in the revitalization of St Pete.

http://www.stpete.org/socialservices/homelessness/ordinanceslaws.asp

All of those same things are already illegal in downtown Jacksonville.
[/quote]Agreed.  But its not just about the ordinances being in place.  If JSO enforced these laws, many folks, including members of the board, would likely be outraged.

stephendare

April 17, 2012, 01:41:57 PM
Whoever keeps playing with making each of the articles multiple pages, it's annoying.

I hate to be negative because the article itself is very good, but I have to agree - the multi-page stuff is very annoying. Also off-topic, there should be a site-discussion forum:)

Please bear with us while we experiment with some of the minor format changes.  Trying to make sure that what we do works for the phone and iPad formats.  (they tend not to like our really long articles and miniaturize them to unread ability.  Ten pages is probably too long though.

Thanks for the feedback!

stephendare

April 17, 2012, 01:44:02 PM
The worst it's been when I've gone downtown is someone asking me for money. Tip: that happens EVERYWHERE.
Then I don't think you spend much time down there.  I do.  I've been yelled and cursed at.  Seen male on female violence.  All sorts of stuff.  I have not experienced that in other major cities. 

That's a police problem to me, not a homeless problem.

stay in the suburbs where you don't have to see poverty (even though it's there).
I thought the point was to encourage people to visit downtown???

My point is that there are going to be homeless people in a downtown and the cost:benefit of trying to displace them isn't worth the effort.

It is not difficult. This is the largest factor in the revitalization of St Pete.

http://www.stpete.org/socialservices/homelessness/ordinanceslaws.asp

All of those same things are already illegal in downtown Jacksonville.
Agreed.  But its not just about the ordinances being in place.  If JSO enforced these laws, many folks, including members of the board, would likely be outraged.
[/quote]

Bunkum.

No reason to straw man "the board", Kaiser.  Since you yourself are a part of that group.

Kaiser Soze

April 17, 2012, 01:48:43 PM
Agreed.  But its not just about the ordinances being in place.  If JSO enforced these laws, many folks, including members of the board, would likely be outraged.
[/quote]

Bunkum.

No reason to straw man "the board", Kaiser.  Since you yourself are a part of that group.
[/quote]What does that even mean, Stephen?  Please try to respond without calling me a Klansman or ass.

stephendare

April 17, 2012, 03:02:44 PM
Perhaps you could clarify your own statement, kaiser, without calling anyone a pussyboy or using the word "fuck" for multiple grammar replacements?  Not saying you would, but you know----just in case.

Specifically, what on earth makes you think that "the board" Would be against enforcing the already existing laws?

bill

April 17, 2012, 03:11:09 PM
Wow pre-arrogance, condescension and see how smart I am. Maybe it will save us from hearing it on the back end. One can hope.

stephendare

April 17, 2012, 03:21:24 PM
Wow pre-arrogance, condescension and see how smart I am. Maybe it will save us from hearing it on the back end. One can hope.

I wouldn't get too worked up about it bill.  While its condescending to speak on behalf of an entire group of people by creating pre ordained opinions for them to have, our posters are thick skinned historically.

I know that I'm not offended.

Kaiser Soze

April 17, 2012, 03:57:11 PM
Perhaps you could clarify your own statement, kaiser, without calling anyone a pussyboy or using the word "fuck" for multiple grammar replacements?  Not saying you would, but you know----just in case.

Specifically, what on earth makes you think that "the board" Would be against enforcing the already existing laws?

Enforcing the existing laws against the homeless population is a messy occurrence that raises the ire of many local liberal residents.  Unfortunately, your reading comprehension leaves much to be desired.  Many on this board would have no problem with it.  However, its safe to assume that others on this board would be offended.

bill

April 17, 2012, 04:10:22 PM
Wow pre-arrogance, condescension and see how smart I am. Maybe it will save us from hearing it on the back end. One can hope.

I wouldn't get too worked up about it bill.  While its condescending to speak on behalf of an entire group of people by creating pre ordained opinions for them to have, our posters are thick skinned historically.

Damn I was wrong

I know that I'm not offended.

stephendare

April 17, 2012, 04:16:29 PM
Perhaps you could clarify your own statement, kaiser, without calling anyone a pussyboy or using the word "fuck" for multiple grammar replacements?  Not saying you would, but you know----just in case.

Specifically, what on earth makes you think that "the board" Would be against enforcing the already existing laws?

Enforcing the existing laws against the homeless population is a messy occurrence that raises the ire of many local liberal residents.  Unfortunately, your reading comprehension leaves much to be desired.  Many on this board would have no problem with it.  However, its safe to assume that others on this board would be offended.

My reading comprehension is prett solid.

Who are these "liberals"?  And which of these laws are "messy"?

What would be the basis of complaint, oh kaiser soze?

Sounds like you are creating a Straw man position that you would like others to believe without any factual basis.

It's not very clever, and it makes you sound like a nineteen year old from farmington indiana trying to debate international politics.

Just sayin.

So you don't have any real reason to suspect that there are "liberals" on this board that would be "against" the enforcement of the laws of this city?

tufsu1

April 17, 2012, 05:22:54 PM
great article Ennis! 

Much of this informatuion presented here will be part of a position paper TransForm Jax will be issuing later today.  It will be dsitributed to members of City Council, the Ad Hoc Committee, and the Mayor's Office.

If anyone would like to read the TransForm Jax position paper on Hemming Plaza, it can be found here:

http://transformjax.wordpress.com/

peestandingup

April 17, 2012, 06:24:21 PM
Perhaps you could clarify your own statement, kaiser, without calling anyone a pussyboy or using the word "fuck" for multiple grammar replacements?  Not saying you would, but you know----just in case.

Specifically, what on earth makes you think that "the board" Would be against enforcing the already existing laws?

Enforcing the existing laws against the homeless population is a messy occurrence that raises the ire of many local liberal residents.  Unfortunately, your reading comprehension leaves much to be desired.  Many on this board would have no problem with it.  However, its safe to assume that others on this board would be offended.

What are you rambling about? "Liberals" do what?? I'm pretty sure you're looking at this problem through some kind of weird tunnel vision of "Us VS Them". ???

No matter what you do to the park, homeless are still gonna be homeless. And call me crazy, but most of these so called "liberals" I'm pretty sure don't really care so much about the homeless (since they know that) as much as they do about spending millions of dollars combating this "problem", while messing up a perfectly good park in the process & making it less usable for everyone, all the while using the poor/homeless as a scapegoat again to wreak more havoc downtown.

So tell me who's the liberals & conservatives again? I get confused.

Bill Hoff

April 17, 2012, 08:46:50 PM
The worst it's been when I've gone downtown is someone asking me for money. Tip: that happens EVERYWHERE.
Then I don't think you spend much time down there.  I do.  I've been yelled and cursed at.  Seen male on female violence.  All sorts of stuff.  I have not experienced that in other major cities. 

stay in the suburbs where you don't have to see poverty (even though it's there).
I thought the point was to encourage people to visit downtown???

I work with homeless on a daily basis, and am very familar with the population, the issues, the resources, etc, so I'm going to chime in.

I think this is a "which comes first, the chicken or the egg?" argument.

Will shifting the homeless away from this area make other citizens feel more comfortable to use the park space?

Or will adding programming attract citizens to the park space, which will in turn disperse or mask the homeless population there?

Both are true.

I think many would love to use the space as is, but feel uncomfortable around homeless. And why not, many are pretty rough, have mental/substance abuse issues, and have a record of bad judgement. Not exactly the crowd you want to relax amongst on your lunch break or after a visit to MOCA.

I think many would also be happy to use the park space if there was some reason for them to go, even if there was a large homeless presence. And why not, many homeless are just simply not well adjusted to advance in society or unable to dig themselves out of whatever situation they're in, but aren't bad people, theives, or looking to attack random people if only given the opprotunity. Add a live jazz band and a couple food trucks, and *BAM* - instant destination lunch spot (assuming the trees & seating are still there).

Both are true, just depending on how you feel personally. It's pointless to argue who's right or wrong, because there is no right or wrong answer.

So, yes - substantially shifting homeless away from the park will help the situation. And yes, - adding programming to the park will help the situation, as would a mild facelift.

If either was done correctly, I think it would make an impact. However, it doesn't have to be either / or...the most effective solution is to do both.

Whether the political will and money is there to implement the most effective solution (aka both) is the question.

Maybe, maybe not.

Btw, the much talked about/ rumored homeless day center is being proposed for Tallyrand Avenue, about 1 mile away from the Sulzbacher Center. Hypothetically, this may shift the some of the homeless population away from the Downtown core (and Hemming Plaza) over in that general direction. 












ronchamblin

April 17, 2012, 11:03:42 PM
From what I’ve seen on this forum, and from what I recall from the results of the survey, there is very little support for the removal of the permanent table and chair assemblies and their replacement with removable units.  And there is absolutely no support for the removal of the large oaks. This much is clear.

The forum and survey also supports programming, the encouragement of vendors in the park, along with other retail, and the encouragement of local workers to use the park for lunch and meetings.

Regarding the unwanted elements who seem to occupy the park, most seem to expect that the “problem” will decrease as more people use the park, as more activity exists in the park, and as another facility is made available for the current occupier types.

And most seem to oppose any radical change to the park, and suggest instead only the removal and replacement of the four or five sick trees with young teenage trees.  Most seem to realize how much we need large oak trees in Hemming because it is surrounded by concrete and buildings.

The oaks.  Large oaks not only block the harmful sun’s rays, but actually cool the area below them.  A large oak tree can draw from the ground via its root system up to 50 gallons of water per day.  And some of that water evaporates from the leaves during the hot sun, cooling the air, which then descends slowly to the ground, cooling any animal or human below.

If I were a religious person, I would suggest that this wonderful natural “free” process was some god’s way of making people in Hemming comfortable.  Not being infected with religion, I will simply say that we humans are fortunate to have this free cooling process, and that any individual or group of individuals who suggest removing most or all of the large oaks from Hemming would be foolish indeed, especially after becoming aware of this cooling process.  But perhaps, given that the idea of heat is involved, which is related to the myth of hell, perhaps there is a wish by some individual, or individuals, to provide a small bit of hell for some by having them endure Hemming without the large oaks.       

So ….. why has there been so much talk about removable tables and chairs?  Why has there been so much talk about removing the large oaks?  Who is running this show?  What about the will of the majority?  Who, specifically, wants to have removable tables and chairs? – and for what reason, specifically?  Who, specifically, wants to remove most or all of the large oaks – and for what reason, specifically?


nomeus

April 19, 2012, 01:07:50 PM
how about a $800,000 homeless shelter or $800,000 worth of jobs for some of those folks? how about $800,000 worth of tangible efforts toward the homeless problem in jax?


Debbie Thompson

April 19, 2012, 05:48:13 PM
Sigh.  Is anyone listening to what the public wants?  Guess not.

Ralph W

April 20, 2012, 12:50:58 AM
This ought to solve the plaza problem:

krazeeboi

April 26, 2012, 09:53:19 PM
It should be realized that the biggest issue with Hemming Park is that it is symptomatic of the state of downtown as a whole with its lack of synergestic nodes that generate pedestrian activity. The uses that surround the park aren't really conducive to being a consistently-utilized gathering spot. Contrast this with Center City Park in downtown Greensboro, NC which is located along an active Elm Street that has a mix of uses along the corridor and directly across from a residential high rise which used to be an office building but was rehabbed shortly after the park was constructed.

WmNussbaum

May 03, 2012, 07:53:28 AM
The article was great. Chamblin's comments were too. Yes, the trees are great, and some careful trimming and pruning can give the Plaza a more open feel without destroying the good effects of the canopy. Example - being hoity-toity for a minute: Along the Champs Elysee (sp?) in Paris, the large trees are trimmed into neat squares, and the effect is stunning.

Ron, I'm especially happy to note that you have rid yourself of the disease you mentioned. If more would do likewise, I suspect that enormous world areas would live much more harmoniously.
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