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Guest Series: Michele Bozzuto of MadMen Marketing

Metro Jacksonville consistently offers the opportunity for our readers to absorb the editorials, personal accounts, and vocal opinions of some of the key players in the decision making process of our community. This week, Michele Bozzuto, vice president and Managing Partner of Jacksonville-based Mad Men Marketing ponders if the St. Johns Town Center has ruined Downtown Jacksonville's chance for survival?

Published June 23, 2012 in Urban Issues      37 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


feature

The ever thriving St. John’s Towncenter.. with its hustling and bustling sidewalks, hourly parking-space battles and lines at the purchase counter..  Jacksonville really hit a home run with this retail mecca.  Or did they?  With the ever growing popularity and widening expansion of our Towncenter, I can’t help but wonder.. as this shopping center grows, will its draw only further cripple downtown’s chances of revitalization?

I have no doubt that the introduction, popularity and growth of our Towncenter fosters further financial stability for our city, as well as, our very own fancy attraction for current residents and distant travelers alike, but what does this mean for the future of downtown?  I fear that as the perceived incentives grow to bring stores or restaurants to the Towncenter area, fewer “name brand” businesses will see our downtown as an appealing location to set up shop.

But then, my fears turned to optimism, and actually brought be to in interesting question. What if.. just what if.. due to the fact that these businesses are, in fact, doing so well.. could it, in turn, strengthen mainstream corporation’s faith in the Jacksonville market; potentially leading them to open additional stores in other new locations throughout the city..? If that were the case, then a solid argument could be made to create a new retail district, in an area where space is cheap and there’s a lot of it – but where could that be..? Oh, I know!  How about our very own downtown!  An area I know we are all desperate to see come back to life.

Bare with me here..  We have several store front properties that are vacant, countless empty lots begging to be developed, corner store locations which would be perfect for any pharmacy or corner market, among a painful amount of other real estate opportunities in a reasonable square block radius.  (Do me a favor and Google Map our downtown, give it a one over, and you will see SO many vacant lots and undeveloped buildings it will make your head spin.. mainly West downtown).  So, if the right retail businesses could be coerced into investing a little money, (and I know our city is offering incentives for businesses to move downtown anyhow) I think our downtown has massive potential to support this type of growth, and to create our own areas like Chicago’s Michigan Ave or NYC’s 5th Avenue..  With so many “conversion friendly” properties and vacant lots, to me, it’s a no-brainer.  Do I even need to mention how much potential The Landing holds…?!

Now, the argument that America is a consumer driven, materialistic, buy now – pay later, “in over our heads” in spending debt – type of society is besides the point. My main focus in this is.. if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!  And, as our Towncenter has proven, Jacksonvillians like to shop.. so lets spread the wealth, shall we?  There are plenty of business men and women who believe it or not, don’t live at the beaches.. therefore, they might need to head north, or west to get home. What if they need to stop and get a new suit jacked due to spilled mustard, or replenish that make-up supply..? Please forgive the stereotypes, but this is simply my way of trying to get a point across that these types of retail providers would do well in our downtown, just as they have in countless other metropolitan cities.

So, this is my plea.. Lets pull together and bring our downtown back to the roaring 20′s – or maybe revitalize by looking ahead to the roaring 2020′s! I think it can be done. I think it should be done. Let’s stop talking about the new courthouse and get some outsiders to start putting their dollars into our city, dollars we might actually see a return on..  Let’s not let the Towncenter kill our downtown – let’s let it inspire it’s comeback!  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Editorial by Michele Bozzuto

Michele is Vice President and Managing Partner of Mad Men Marketing. She is also the Director of Business Development and Copywriter for the agency.







37 Comments

vicupstate

June 22, 2012, 05:00:11 AM
National retailers are not going to be the salvation of DT jax.  Local and regional ones will be, if and when a turnaround ever happens.

The only exceptions that there may be would be the Landing,(provided there was a major overhaul)or maybe a corner drug store like Walgreens.

simms3

June 22, 2012, 07:31:02 AM
Good question/article.  I find myself asking if Midtown Atl retail was essentially killed by Atlantic Station a half mile away, but the answer is no in short.

Many mall/national brands are suffering immensely right now with too many locations and bad product, and many have killed relationships with landlords.  There is a shortlist of good brands out there that landlords want, and these brands are creative and looking for opportunities to do something different.  That includes locating in unique urban areas/high streets rather than fortress malls like SJTC.

I would count these retailers as:

J Crew (includes Madewell and bridal shop brands)
Ralph Lauren (includes successful redo of Club Monaco)
Steven Alan
Rag and Bone
Uniqlo (Japanese, expanding in US)
Scotch and Soda (Dutch, expanding in US)
Jack Spade
Billy Reid
Gant
Blue Ridge Mountain sports
Free People/Urban Outfitters/Anthropologie (definitely not doing the mall thing anymore...UI is even in DT Asheville, NC)
Jonathan Adler
Apple (looking to get out of malls and do some more unique stores)
Louis Vuitton (credit multi brand luxury shop looking to get out of malls)
Trader Joe's...they average over $1,000/SF in sales, more than any other grocer including Whole Foods...now expanding in Columbia, SC
Lululemon (I'm actually surprised they went to SJTC and not San Marco)
Intermix
Diane von Furstenburg

Nashville has a few of these retailers, albeit next to their mall in a walkable infill development that is soo cool.  Jacksonville needs a cool infill driven area to attract a real estate shop that can pull these brands in.  The pre-empter will be cool locals/regionals/mom and pops and foot traffic.

If Jacksonville is in America, and I think it is, then SJTC has not killed all chances for urban retail.  SJTC is a fortress mall like any other, and most cities have multiple/many fortress malls with same tenant mix as SJTC, and yet their downtowns/urban areas are all exploding right now despite and many of these malls are actually doing pop-ups as a desperate move to fill newly empty space.

MetroJacksonville needs to explore the idea of pop-ups, and before it does so it should PM me because the king of pop-ups is employed by my firm and has taken pop-ups to a whole new level.

Bill Hoff

June 22, 2012, 07:40:53 AM
The majority of SJTC is does not seem designed to be walkable, just the core. All the expansion surronding the core is not anymore walkable than your average strip mall. The walkable core is whar draws people in.

Bill Hoff

June 22, 2012, 07:42:11 AM
The majority of SJTC does not seem designed to be walkable, just the core. All the expansion surronding the core is not anymore walkable than your average strip mall. The walkable core is whar draws people in.

jaxlore

June 22, 2012, 08:40:19 AM
I don't know, at first I had the same feeling about the town center. But now I tend to believe that downtown's growth has to happen, dare i say "organically". Forcing high end retailers into downtown for downtown's sake wont work. But if anyone has been down there at night on a weekend or during art walk it's starting to be a busy place. Once we start seeing a more successful locally owned local businesses the bigger ones will come.

But i say let them stay at the town center. I would rather have a home grown art/culture/funky life downtown then town center part duex.

jtwestside

June 22, 2012, 09:04:34 AM
I think it's more of a chicken or egg argument. Did St. Johns Town Center ruin Downtown Jacksonville's chances for survival or were they ruined by mega-churches and politics well before St. Johns Town Center came along thereby causing the growth of the "town centers" (St. Johns and River City Marketplace).

thelakelander

June 22, 2012, 09:10:50 AM
I don't have much to say other than the SJTC has not ruined downtown Jacksonville.  SJTC is a mall just like Gateway, Philips, Normandy, Roosevelt, Grand Boulevard and a host of other malls that have come and gone since the 1950s.  On the other hand, downtown is a neighborhood and community within its own right.  Rebuild downtown's economic structure and it will be just fine, no matter how many malls pop up in the burbs.

fsujax

June 22, 2012, 09:20:59 AM
Churches have not ruined Downtown. I get so tired of that lame argument. Cheap, vast, sprawling land connected by highways ruined Downtown!

Non-RedNeck Westsider

June 22, 2012, 09:25:49 AM
I don't know, at first I had the same feeling about the town center. But now I tend to believe that downtown's growth has to happen, dare i say "organically". Forcing high end retailers into downtown for downtown's sake wont work. But if anyone has been down there at night on a weekend or during art walk it's starting to be a busy place. Once we start seeing a more successful locally owned local businesses the bigger ones will come.

But i say let them stay at the town center. I would rather have a home grown art/culture/funky life downtown then town center part duex.

You, I and a whole lot of other people really feel the same way.  Last night was fun.  I went to the Kona event, ate at Burrito Gallery, hit up a few bars and went home, but for me that's kind of normal - except for the event and the thousands of other people that it drew.  The same with the Truckies Event.  The same with Jazz Fest.  The same with most any other PROGRAMMING/EVENT meant to draw in crowds that wouldn't normally come downtown.

That's the key.  Try and have something going on all the time.  It doesn't have to appeal to everyone, as evidenced last night.  Hell, do a Pops Under the Stars on a Friday night that caters to the older crowds.  Just do something that's going to bring people in - the rest will work itself out.

CityLife

June 22, 2012, 09:28:30 AM
You don't have to rely on national retailers to create a vibrant downtown or urban neighborhoods. Look at Asheville, Brooklyn and countless others. Actually look no further than BOrlando. They have way more heavy hitting national retailers outside of downtown (stuff the SJTC dreams of). Yet they have a much more vibrant downtown than Jax and it is made of up of mostly locally owned small businesses.

I once talked to a rep from Ben Carter Properties at a conference and jokingly told him how poorly designed I thought the SJTC is. He agreed and said that they knew the SJTC would have little competition in town and thus they were able to design/build fairly cheaply (not that you didn't know that). Its a horrifically designed faux urban area and the people of Jacksonville will start to realize that when or if Downtown, Riverside/Avondale, and San Marco really blow up. You can't just plop one long stretch of 1st floor retail in the middle of a giant surface parking lot and create any kind of walkable, urban environment.

I give the SJTC about 10 years max before the love affair wears off. The traffic is already horrific and there really isn't much developable land in proximity to make it more than it already is. I don't know how long the leases are for the retailers there, but as demographics shift in Jax, as more people start moving back to the urban core, and if we can get some transit in place, I think it would be very easy for a developer to pick off any of the SJTC stores that would do well in downtown.

But we need to focus on duplicating whats happening in Riverside/Avondale downtown right now, before we even start to think about national retailers. Like Jaxlore said, I'd rather have that than the SJTC anyway.


copperfiend

June 22, 2012, 09:30:02 AM
Churches have not ruined Downtown. I get so tired of that lame argument. Cheap, vast, sprawling land connected by highways ruined Downtown!

I think the sprawl is part of it. I think lack of vision by people in leadership positions is a major factor. As was consolidation.

CityLife

June 22, 2012, 09:35:38 AM
Churches have not ruined Downtown. I get so tired of that lame argument. Cheap, vast, sprawling land connected by highways ruined Downtown!

There is cheap, vast, sprawling land connected by highways in every city in the United State. Yet we find ourselves well behind the curve.

That is totally on the former leaders (or lack thereof) and power players of this city. I'm not saying it was the churches fault, but it wasn't just because of cheap land.

fsujax

June 22, 2012, 09:40:37 AM
^^it played a big role as was documented on this site with the Skinner family article. We just can't seem to figure out how to bring some of the growth back downtown.

CityLife

June 22, 2012, 09:52:19 AM
^^it played a big role as was documented on this site with the Skinner family article. We just can't seem to figure out how to bring some of the growth back downtown.

Of course it played a role, just like it played a role in the suburbanization of America. However, our past leaders let it happen.

One needs to look no further than the architectural gems that our idiotic city allowed to be torn down. If downtown currently had this architectural stock in place, it would be far, far, far, far easier to redevelop. Not to mention that it would probably be a tourist destination for the architecture alone.

http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2009-jan-lost-jacksonville/page/

Intuition Ale Works

June 22, 2012, 10:03:32 AM
You don't have to rely on national retailers to create a vibrant downtown or urban neighborhoods. Look at Asheville, Brooklyn and countless others. Actually look no further than BOrlando. They have way more heavy hitting national retailers outside of downtown (stuff the SJTC dreams of). Yet they have a much more vibrant downtown than Jax and it is made of up of mostly locally owned small businesses.

I once talked to a rep from Ben Carter Properties at a conference and jokingly told him how poorly designed I thought the SJTC is. He agreed and said that they knew the SJTC would have little competition in town and thus they were able to design/build fairly cheaply (not that you didn't know that). Its a horrifically designed faux urban area and the people of Jacksonville will start to realize that when or if Downtown, Riverside/Avondale, and San Marco really blow up. You can't just plop one long stretch of 1st floor retail in the middle of a giant surface parking lot and create any kind of walkable, urban environment.

I give the SJTC about 10 years max before the love affair wears off. The traffic is already horrific and there really isn't much developable land in proximity to make it more than it already is. I don't know how long the leases are for the retailers there, but as demographics shift in Jax, as more people start moving back to the urban core, and if we can get some transit in place, I think it would be very easy for a developer to pick off any of the SJTC stores that would do well in downtown.

But we need to focus on duplicating whats happening in Riverside/Avondale downtown right now, before we even start to think about national retailers. Like Jaxlore said, I'd rather have that than the SJTC anyway.


Hope this forum realizes that Jim Love's ordinance, that will pass next week, will effective eliminate any new bars/nightclubs and restaurants in Riverside Avondale that can not provide parking on-site.

That might kill the momentum.

simms3

June 22, 2012, 10:09:28 AM
CityLife good points.  You and I seem to be on the same page here.  Every city from NYC down deals with mega sprawling suburbs, an overabundance of malls/retail, traffic and congestion, etc.  This isn't going to suddenly stop, but suburban growth will happen more intelligently and urban infill will continue to be a component of the future growth of all cities.  In Jacksonville urban infill hasn't really even begun yet, which in my opinion is reflective of the state of fear developers have with the market and potentially the city itself, run by a bunch of hooligans who don't know what they're doing and how to get out of the way, let alone get the ball rolling in the right direction.

CityLife

June 22, 2012, 10:36:01 AM
@Intuition

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKCnHWas3HQ

Ben, I know you probably can't and don't want to divulge much, but please tell us that DVI, JEDC, and Mayors Office have been treating you like Prince Willam in order to lure Intuition Downtown. If not, heads need to roll. Intuition>Neiman Marcus

@Simms, Agreed.

Non-RedNeck Westsider

June 22, 2012, 11:14:22 AM
@Intuition

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKCnHWas3HQ

Ben, I know you probably can't and don't want to divulge much, but please tell us that DVI, JEDC, and Mayors Office have been treating you like Prince Willam in order to lure Intuition Downtown. If not, heads need to roll. Intuition>Neiman Marcus

@Simms, Agreed.

Unfortunately, City, there's this:  http://www.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/print-edition/2012/06/22/where-cool-and-corporate-collide.html?ana=e_ph

taylormiller

June 22, 2012, 01:38:42 PM
It's an interesting take. I think the mentality of these two areas have been Town Center "VS." Downtown in relation to how each develops. There's no denying that the Town Center has been financially successful, but do me another favor and Google "Jacksonville." What you'll see are pictures of our downtown, that's it. There are no pictures of the Town Center, because it's just a mall. I was born and raised here, I've seen Regency Square at its highest and seen it fall. I've seen the Avenues have its similar narrative. I truly believe the Town Center could face a similar fate because it's just a mall. You can find everything you want there EXCEPT culture. Look, I applaud any business venture that succeeds, and in this case, it's great that at least there are businesses flourishing in town, but any city's image is its downtown, and so long as our image appears to be vacant buildings and homelessness, our downtown will not progress and our city will be somewhat stinted in its efforts to grow.

Now, there are no silver bullet solutions in revitalizing downtown and I think everyone knows that. If downtown is to take away any lessons from the Town Center, it should be that people want names. Don't get me wrong, there is and always will be a market for the hole in the wall mom and pop shop. I've got my Big Dunn Burro tanktop. Non-retail shops are great, but Jacksonville doesn't have that market solidified YET. I want it to, and I think given the right circumstances it could happen that you see little shops like that pop up more frequently. Personally, I would love to see a Pomade and Tonic on Bay Street and grab a Jon Boat at Intution at The Shipyards (great location for a riverfront beergarden.)
But downtown isn't going to grow the way we want it to if we discourage big retail.


As much as I hate to admit it, (because frankly I'm not the biggest fan of the Town Center,) the Town Center is case and point that Jacksonvillans love name brand retail. People flocked to the Town Center in part because it was so new but also because they offered retail that the Avenues didn't have. THAT is what downtown needs to consider to start. We need to bring in retail you can't find at the Town Center that has name recognition. Macys, NM, Sacs, etc. That sense of exclusivity is one of the main ingredients of the success of that area. But there's one thing downtown has that Regency, the Avenues and the Town Center don't have: culture. Look, all those other places are just malls, once you've finished shopping, that's it. I can't tell you how depressing it is to hear people talk about wanting to go out on a Friday night....to SUITE. For Godsake, it's a MALL. You shop, you leave. I try to tell people about Dos Gatos, LIT, 1904 etc and people don't listen. They have to see for themselves and while Art Walk and other city events are great in trying to bring excitement to downtown, nothing brings excitement to mainstream Jacksonvillans quite like retail. So, let's suppose, for example, a Macy's opened up on Main St. (that lot with Volunteers in Medicine and surface lots needs something like that,) and people start coming downtown to do what Jacksonvillans do best: shop. Now, foot traffic increases in the area and spills over to the museum or the local urban core scene. Retail brought people in, local charm is what kept them.

Look, I'm not proposing that Jacksonville become the United States of Generica. I love local flare and the entrepreneurial spirit, and I hope the Town Center keeps most of its retail, but that doesn't mean we can't take a play out of their playbook and use it to our advantage. There is a demand for retail in this city, and we can use that. So long as our efforts to introduce new retail is done in tandem with encouraging new local businesses to open up, people will come out to see what they know but stay to discover things they didn't. Not only that, but downtown has so much more than just the mall. Sporting events, concerts, symphonies and theatre are all things that will only be highlighted with an increased presnece and are things that the Town Center can't compete in. I don't want to see every store front become an Aeropostale or Chipotle or Lucky Brand downtown. And I don't think it will. But if we bring in new things you can't find at the Town Center, people will come and discover what we've had all along: culture. I think Michele does a great job in highlighting that we ought not look at the Town Center loathingly, rather, we should view it as an opportunity. The fact is the Town Center is a lesson, and it's up to us now on whether we'll learn from it and incorporate certain aspects that work into our downtown, or let downtown slip further in spite of ourselves.

I never thought I would hear myself say this, but maybe there's some good that can come from the Town Center. Hopefully that "good" COMES from there, but STAYS down here! Let's give them a reason to come out, because we all know we've got plenty of reasons to get them to stay.

jaxlore

June 22, 2012, 02:50:36 PM
And then there is this guy:

Not everyone agrees with the sentiment. Don Shea, executive director of the Jacksonville Civic Council and an adviser to Mayor Alvin Brown’s office, said my question of the cool factor — unique places to eat, shop and hang out — driving corporate growth was “a stretch.”
“Those things are way further down the decision list than things like taxes, parking, insurance, rent,” Shea said
.

His attitude kills me. I really hope the Mayor is not taking his advice hook and sinker.

Here's the full article.
http://www.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/news/2012/06/22/should-jacksonville-focus-on-the-cool.html?ana=RSS&s=article_search&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+bizj_jacksonville+%28Jacksonville+Business+Journal%29

simms3

June 22, 2012, 03:04:52 PM
That's funny!  Don Shea's mentality is EXACTLY what's wrong with the city of Jacksonville.

Cool factor is HUUUUUGGGGEEEEE.  Of course there are so many complex factors to attracting tenants and firms, but nobody in the city should have the notion that they have to worry about "keeping taxes low or reducing them further", or of having "high cost of business" issues, or parking issues.  Those aren't Jacksonville problems.  Neither is traffic.

Jacksonville's biggest problem is the fact that it is a confused city that has it all wrong and doesn't know the back of its hand from the front.  What it thinks are its problems are actually its strengths.  What it thinks is irrelevant is usually the key ingredient missing from the success equation.

It's getting to be pretty frustrating.

jcjohnpaint

June 22, 2012, 03:06:08 PM
I think that SJTC is a mall pure and simple.  The reason we are having this argument is because it is called a towncenter and not a mall (a mall trying to be a main st or selling itself as such).  The more our downtown tries to mimic the SJTC the more our downtown will be moving in the wrong direction.  Why don't we argue 'will the SJTC ruin riverside?'
The SJTC will never be an alternative the R/A and I don't think SJTC is an alternative to DT.  We can also have a great DT with lots of vibrancy without the 'big stores'.  Chances are, if we wanted the big stores to even consider DT, our city would have to create a vibrant environment first.  Right now our city is doing anything, but the right thing to promote a vibrant downtown. 

jcjohnpaint

June 22, 2012, 03:08:03 PM
Until our city creates a vibrant DT, the SJTC will win or at least be a more interesting alternative (which is fine because it is just a mall being a mall/ can't blame them).

CityLife

June 22, 2012, 03:15:39 PM
I think Don Shea was probably talking in terms of corporate relocation, not strictly downtown revitalization. Or at least I hope he was. Its not sexy to say so, but corporations are looking at their bottom line before they take into account intangible bonuses like cool bars, shops, etc. So in that sense he may be partially right.

But in terms of overall downtown revitalization, especially residential growth, the cool factor is huge.

simms3

June 22, 2012, 03:16:13 PM
Don Shea is part of a business climate that has always been "top-down".  Jacksonville's corporate scene is old and stodgy.  It's out of touch.  It can't feel the wind blowing and the average age of the mentality of businessmen in Jacksonville is so old that they have been desensitized to change (or they were never used to change in the first place).

Booming cities are run by the same age group, but the difference is that 40s and 50s business leaders in other cities are a little more young at heart and are driving the next 2 generations to be the next set of leaders, in essence following and trying to mold the young talent rather than disregarding the young talent.  In Jacksonville there always seems to be a total gap between who's running the show and who will be running the show, and the city as a whole is just out of sync with the rest of its peers/all other cities.

It's run like a stuffy men's club and that's what it still is.  That probably drives a good bit of Don Shea's thinking here.  Places like the Yacht Club are not as popular with people as they once were.  More and more social clubs are less about one place and exclusivity and more about bringing similar people (by job/interest now more often than not) together to explore NEW and cool/exciting places.

Restaurants and shops and districts are coming to define cities and set them apart from one another.  It's no longer about being in the most inner white male circle when the country is more diverse than ever.  You just can't have that anymore.

simms3

June 22, 2012, 03:25:17 PM
I think Don Shea was probably talking in terms of corporate relocation, not strictly downtown revitalization. Or at least I hope he was. Its not sexy to say so, but corporations are looking at their bottom line before they take into account intangible bonuses like cool bars, shops, etc. So in that sense he may be right.

But in terms of overall downtown revitalization, especially residential growth, the cool factor is huge.

But where talent is is now a main driving force of corporate relocations, and young talent is more mobile than ever before.  Companies are no longer in charge and many, if not most have adapted to a model that focuses not only on attracting and retaining young talent, but following young talent to the places they want to be.  This is just an undeniable evolution that has occurred.  Big drivers of talent are major university presence, but also the place/city itself.  Talent pools are also not homogeneous and certain cities seem to attract certain different talent (it's now become sort of a chicken vs egg question).

I think in the 80s and 90s it was safe to say that taxes, parking, the traditional issues were at the forefront, but in 2012 things have evolved and are continuing to evolve and the world looks completely different now than even 5-10 years ago.  Jacksonville just hasn't been able to catch on or notice what exactly the issues are and how to jump into the fray, thanks in part to decades old mentalities and notions and rigid perceptions about things.

simms3

June 22, 2012, 03:41:07 PM
Wasting way too much time...went to Civic Council's wiki, then link 3 which was a Karen Brune Mathis article actually linked back to MetroJax...?  Anyway...caught this from a thread from 2010:

Quote
The JCC made a concerted effort to include women and minorities in forming the group, but it is somewhat of an exclusive group. Do you see that as a challenge as you look to impact issues?

If this group is going to have a chance of being accepted as a contributor to improving the quality of life, it's got to be perceived as inclusive of all points of view. My role will be one of communicating - ensuring the public and private sector communicate and that we communicate with all sectors of the community. A community is best served by getting as many noses as possible under the tent.

I just don't get an "inclusive" vibe in Jacksonville for some reason.  I guess Don Shea's an outsider from Shreveport, LA, but if he thinks parking and taxes are larger issues in Jacksonville than the city itself/quality of life/unique draws for young people (in attracting corporations/expansions), then he's just not in reality.

Jaxson

June 22, 2012, 04:31:25 PM
I think that the young talent who have the ideas are the ones who leave town as they begin their careers.  Ask any number of University of North Florida graduates if they are going to stay in town.  The creative class that chooses to stay often give it the old college try (pun intended) and eventually throw in the towel and move on to a larger city as well.  I think that this issue underlies why Florida has workforce quality issues.  We tend to believe that failing schools are the reason why our economy is in a funk.  The problem is, in my opinion, that the Stanton graduate is more likely to enroll in college and take his or her talents elsewhere than would be a student from neighborhood high school who may opt to stay in town and get hired in the service industry...

danem

June 22, 2012, 08:06:27 PM
I'm not sure if anyone else has made this point that downtown and SJTC are 12 miles apart! I don't see one affecting the other in the long term. 12 miles could be the distance between two different towns in another county.

Restaurants, retail are nice to add and surely attract visitors, but what Jacksonville downtown and as a whole needs is more JOBS and not just jobs in restaurants and retail. I'm glad simms and some of the others are touching on this; I just wanted to drive home that point. I go to SJTC because that's where my friends go. I live near there because I work near there. If my friends and I all had JOBS downtown we'd surely be more likely to be living and playing there as well. And let me tell you, as a 30 something professional, I am currently taking a cold hard look at the jobs environment in Jacksonville to evaluate if I have a real future here, and not what retail is available, because I can find fancy department stores and cool restaurants anywhere.

On culture, more actual culture will come naturally when more people are able to settle down and decide they have a future here, and that culture will be both at STJC and downtown.

vicupstate

June 22, 2012, 08:12:56 PM
I think that SJTC is a mall pure and simple.  The reason we are having this argument is because it is called a towncenter and not a mall (a mall trying to be a main st or selling itself as such).  The more our downtown tries to mimic the SJTC the more our downtown will be moving in the wrong direction.  Why don't we argue 'will the SJTC ruin riverside?'
The SJTC will never be an alternative the R/A and I don't think SJTC is an alternative to DT.  We can also have a great DT with lots of vibrancy without the 'big stores'.  Chances are, if we wanted the big stores to even consider DT, our city would have to create a vibrant environment first.  Right now our city is doing anything, but the right thing to promote a vibrant downtown. 

1,000+ 

Talk of getting national retailers  DT is pointless.  They are not coming, at least not until DT is already revitilized throughly.  But did Austin get it's reputation from getting national retailers to come DT?  NO!

tufsu1

June 22, 2012, 09:43:04 PM
Don Shea is part of a business climate that has always been "top-down". 

umm...he's been here less than two years....and was pretty successful every other place he was...do you even know him?

simms3

June 22, 2012, 09:53:48 PM
Don Shea is part of a business climate that has always been "top-down". 

umm...he's been here less than two years....and was pretty successful every other place he was...do you even know him?

Yea I pointed that out already...nice.  I think you missed City and I's conversation.  Also, the thread from 2010 about Don Shea sheds light on his pre-Jacksonville life/jobs.  I made sure to re-read.  Not sure he's "all that", you know?  I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Riverdale Properties

June 24, 2012, 08:13:45 PM
In my opinion, the only thing that will fix downtown is the following:
1. Create something for Jacksonville residents to be proud of.  Paris has the Eiffel, New York has the Statue and the Empire, St. Louis has the arch, and unfortunately, Jacksonville has The Landing (atrocity).  Luckily, we have Riverside/Avondale and the press associated with it's recent neighborhood ranking.  I believe we have a great deal to be proud of (spent a wonderful afternoon at MOSH yesterday), so maybe this is just a matter of publishing and advertising the city's assets.  Kudos to Intuition and Bold City for starting to blaze the trail.
2. Get residents to understand the value of what we have (incredible architecture, etc.).  I refer to Southside and SJTC as donkey island (from Pinocchio).  I just can't understand the desire for all of our young professionals to live in a sea of apartment/condo communities and hang out in strip malls.
3. To point 2, maybe it's just the people of Jacksonville.  Less than 20% of young professionals have any college education.  I'm not saying that college education is anything special, but the young residents of Jacksonville, for the most part, don't seem to appreciate anything Cosmopolitan. 
3. Fix the racial and crime segregation that exists in Jacksonville.  Most Southside and Beach residents will not even come to the Westside (which they consider any area west of the river).  Maybe it's time for us to re-brand Springfield, Downtown, Riverside, Avondale and Ortega has "River West."  It worked for Queen's Harbour and San Pablo when Arlington went down hill (now marketed as Intracoastal West).  We've started to see gentrification in Murray Hill, but outside of the "River West" areas, you might as well be driving through Compton, CA in most other areas west of the river.  Jacksonville is cursed by the one thing most other built out cities need: plenty of land.  We continue to expand Southeast, as people run away from the "crime of the west side."
4. Figure out a way to make this city cool.  Probably ties to my first point.
5. Get someone in city government who actually knows how to bring business to Jacksonville.  Who did the airport?  That should be the person.  Great job there.
6. Raise the millage rate for property taxes (hard to say this since I have 20 rentals, and also given the dire situation many of our homeowners are in).  Use the additional city revenue to make the proper budgets whole again (transportation, museums, etc.), and also to subsidize re-development in the downtown core.

Just a few thoughts.  You can't have a suburbia to nowhere, so hoping someone figures this out sooner than later.

BrooklynSouth

June 25, 2012, 03:35:37 PM
Now that they've taken over MOCA, UNF needs to expand its campus downtown. Or UF needs to open a satellite campus there. Look at VCU in Richmond.

cline

June 25, 2012, 03:43:55 PM
^Technically, UF does have a satellite campus (Med school) in Springfield. 

urbanlibertarian

June 27, 2012, 10:25:12 AM
Downtown isn't dead or ruined.  It was on life support for several years but it's currently in rehab and the recession has caused some setbacks.  I've lived DT for 9 years now and it's been improving the whole time.  Slowly but surely.  COJ shouldn't try to create anything beyond infrastructure.  The city should be a lot more permissive about DT development and work to streamline or eliminate approval processes.  Businesses will come if they think they can prosper.

thelakelander

June 27, 2012, 11:02:24 AM
+1000.
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