Saturday, October 25, 2014
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
 

A Public Square for San Marco

Metro Jacksonville shares renderings of a project that will anchor the heart of San Marco Square: The expansion of Balis Park.

Published November 9, 2012 in Neighborhoods      35 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


feature

As community partners, the San Marco Preservation Society (SMPS) and the San Marco Merchants Association are pleased to announce the expansion of Balis Park.  

The opportunity to expand Balis Park is a result of a solution which removes the traffic signal at Atlantic Boulevard to relieve a traffic bottleneck related to the San Marco Boulevard Streetscape project, which is currently underway.

The removal of the traffic signal is in response to a conflict created by the location of the new roundabout at Naldo.  A traffic study (by Atkins) confirmed that the existing traffic signal at the Lions would back up into the Naldo roundabout.  The solution is to route northbound San Marco Blvd traffic, and eastbound Atlantic Blvd traffic through a one-way route on Balis Place (between the gazebo and Bank of America).

The resulting green space will be used to extend Balis Park to the Lions.  SMPS and the San Marco Merchants Association are raising the money for the park improvements and taking the maintenance responsibility for the newly created park areas.  As a result, no city money will be used to construct or maintain the space.

Survey work within the Square is already underway.  Design is anticipated to be completed this month and construction scheduled to start in January.  The northbound lane of San Marco Blvd from Naldo to Landon will be complete and open for traffic next week.  Construction will cease through the holidays and resume in January for the construction of the Naldo roundabout.  This is scheduled to take two months, and during this time, the new traffic pattern will be established in the Square associated with this concept.  The work in the park is expected to be finished in either April or May 2013.  Because all of the work associated with the new Square traffic pattern will be done while the Naldo roundabout is constructed, there will be no additional temporary disruption to the Square.


Refining The Concept

The graphics below illustrate how the redesign of the San Marco/Atlantic Boulevard intersection results in better multimodal traffic flow and the expansion of Balis Park in the heart of San Marco Square.



The current configuration of the intersection isolates Balis Park and divides the retail district with a wide swath of asphalt pavement.




By utilizing the existing roadway network surrounding Balis Park as a traffic circle, a large central public space and additional on-street parking for surrounding businesses is created.  Furthermore, by reducing the amount of pavement in the vicinity, pedestrian safety and connectivity is enhanced.




The intersection redesign results in Balis Park becoming an interactive centralized space featuring a mix of amenities, including the San Marco Square fountain lions.





How You Can Help



As mentioned above, no public money will be used to construct or maintain this new urban green space.  Instead, SMPS and the merchants association are funding improvements through private donations.  Here are a few ways you can assist them in making this project a success.



Update by Ennis Davis







35 Comments

simms3

November 09, 2012, 12:38:53 PM
Great project.  This is exactly what Jacksonville needs en masse.  Unfortunately, even in high tax cities local businesses and residents can't rely on the city to fund needed enhancements and traffic improvements, and so have taken to alternative funding sources for all such projects.  In Jacksonville, which has next to no taxes, this is especially the case.  Hopefully a sign of things to come!

CityLife

November 09, 2012, 12:52:22 PM
Brilliant! Great work SMPS.

Captain Zissou

November 09, 2012, 01:27:21 PM
This is wonderful.  Great work SMPS and San Marco Merchants.  This also has Doug Skiles and Lori Boyer written all over it, so congratulations to the two of you.

CityLife

November 09, 2012, 01:36:26 PM
This is wonderful.  Great work SMPS and San Marco Merchants.  This also has Doug Skiles and Lori Boyer written all over it, so congratulations to the two of you.

It literally has Doug Skiles (Envision) written all over it. I don't know if he also did the street view renderings, but those are pretty darn impressive as well.

Tacachale

November 09, 2012, 01:46:02 PM
Wow, what a great project! This is an exciting time for San Marco.

dougskiles

November 09, 2012, 02:09:24 PM
The good renderings were created by Logan Rink's team at DCOOP.

This has been a team effort.  It would take me all afternoon to describe the hours put in by (in no particular order):

Kiley Efron (Taverna)
Rob Smith (SMPS)
George Foote (merchants president)
Desiree Bailey (San Marco Bookstore)
Diane Martin (SMPS president)
Mary Toomey (SMPS treasurer)
LeAnna Cumber (SMPS Events chair)
Anita Morrill (Empty Nest Events)
Sarah Marie Johnston (Bistro Aix)
Mark Rubin (local developer)
Mike Balanky (local developer)
Keith Kimball (local building owner)
Zim Boulos (owner of OES)
Eric Lycke (Haskell)
Steve Lovett & Tim Miller (ELM)
Valerie Feinberg & Dawn Emerick (HPC)
Wiatt Bowers, Mike Field & Ennis Davis (Transform Jax)
Janet Whitmill (SMPS parks chair)
Anthony Edwards (SMPS PR)
Reese Riggle (SMPS pres-elect)
Andrew Dickson (SMPS traffic/safety)
Mike Saylor
Chris Flagg

urbaknight

November 09, 2012, 02:31:27 PM
Very cool!

mbwright

November 09, 2012, 02:40:10 PM
It's a shame this was not as part of the previous road work, but I do think it will really improve the area.  Nice work.

TomHurst

November 09, 2012, 03:55:15 PM
Nice work!  This will be a very nice improvement to San Marco.

jcjohnpaint

November 09, 2012, 04:21:49 PM
beautiful- I can't wait

Overstreet

November 09, 2012, 04:23:10 PM
This eliminates a  police car hiding spot at the west end sidewalk at the  of the park .

peestandingup

November 09, 2012, 04:29:55 PM
Good. They need more public space areas. The square was starting to look like a southside strip mall.

Captain Zissou

November 09, 2012, 04:32:49 PM
Are there plans for tables and chairs?  It would be nice to grab a sub at Firehouse and take it out to the park for lunch.

kreger

November 09, 2012, 04:41:15 PM
It's real purdy. I feel like there are other areas in Jacksonville that need to be improved upon first. If my tax dollars aren't being spent I'm all for it.

dougskiles

November 09, 2012, 05:07:08 PM
Are there plans for tables and chairs?  It would be nice to grab a sub at Firehouse and take it out to the park for lunch.

Depends on how much money we raise.  Initially, it will be an open public space with some benches and trees.  Eventually, I hope we can have an outdoor cafe vibe where people get food and take it to the park to enjoy.  Logistically, we would have to figure out how to handle the tables so they don't get in the way of the larger events we want to host (like the art shows).  We want to start slow so that we can see how the space evolves organically.  Personally, I prefer the less is more approach with public spaces.  The people filling the park will be infinitely more interesting than the fixtures (and more valuable to the businesses in the Square).

exnewsman

November 09, 2012, 05:36:01 PM
Nice work. This will be a great addition.

Noone

November 09, 2012, 06:04:50 PM
Congratulations Doug and all involved. Very exciting project for the community.

tufsu1

November 09, 2012, 09:01:43 PM
TransForm Jax was honored to be involved in this project...great job by Doug Skiles in getting this from concept to construction so quickly!

blandman

November 10, 2012, 08:16:56 AM
Great news! I've always hated that the center piece of San Marco "Square" was isolated by traffic. I'm asking for a bike rack with my name on it for Christmas!

urbanlibertarian

November 10, 2012, 09:36:07 AM
Are there plans for tables and chairs?  It would be nice to grab a sub at Firehouse and take it out to the park for lunch.

Depends on how much money we raise.  Initially, it will be an open public space with some benches and trees.  Eventually, I hope we can have an outdoor cafe vibe where people get food and take it to the park to enjoy.  Logistically, we would have to figure out how to handle the tables so they don't get in the way of the larger events we want to host (like the art shows).  We want to start slow so that we can see how the space evolves organically.  Personally, I prefer the less is more approach with public spaces.  The people filling the park will be infinitely more interesting than the fixtures (and more valuable to the businesses in the Square).

Tables and chairs?  I think we all know what that would lead to.  Yes, chess, checkers and card games in a park/plaza.  Unacceptable! ;-)

blfair

November 10, 2012, 12:09:34 PM
This is awesome... Just what the square needs!

Jason

November 12, 2012, 11:57:56 AM
Absolutely fantastic idea!

And maybe the adjacent restaraunts could team up to offer temporary seating in the park when the weather is right.  Or they could simply put some of their own seating in designated areas for their customers? 

Miss Fixit

November 12, 2012, 12:19:56 PM
Wow - beautiful work.  Congratulations to everyone on that impressive team. Great model for other neighborhoods to follow (Doug, you know I'm going to be hitting you up for suggestions soon!).

Spence

November 18, 2012, 04:39:10 AM
While this IS with certainty a fantastic element of the SanMarco Blvd redesign, it isn't really news, nor was it ever a secret.
What I do wonder about is why so many folks remained so quiet for so long about such an exciting park expansion.

dougskiles

November 18, 2012, 07:16:16 AM
We didn't want to count chickens before they hatched.  Perhaps an even better way to describe it is that we didn't want to expose the eggs to unneeded danger before they hatched.

I'm glad you like the plan.  Come to the San Marco Art Festival if you want to learn more about it.  We have a booth near the Lions with order forms for the donor bricks.

thelakelander

November 18, 2012, 08:21:10 AM
I saw Doug working hard yesterday from across the way.  I was over at San Marco Books doing a book signing for them.  Planning to head back over there in another hour or so.

scottjsmith

November 27, 2012, 01:09:37 PM
Since there's already going to be a great call of work on the area, why not also close Balis Steet and make San Marco eastbound only to Hendricks?  Would be smoother flow than the proposal, and allow the district to extend the green area a little more.

Captain Zissou

November 27, 2012, 02:21:52 PM
Balis is an important through street considering it connects with San Marco Place and Carlo street.  This would also cut off access to the big parking lot behind the fire station for southbound traffic, which would meet some opposition..  If you get rid of Balis, then you should get rid of Alford between SMB and Hendricks.

tufsu1

November 27, 2012, 02:25:51 PM
Since there's already going to be a great call of work on the area, why not also close Balis Steet and make San Marco eastbound only to Hendricks?  Would be smoother flow than the proposal, and allow the district to extend the green area a little more.

and how would you propose people go west?

Captain Zissou

November 27, 2012, 02:32:04 PM
Since there's already going to be a great call of work on the area, why not also close Balis Steet and make San Marco eastbound only to Hendricks?  Would be smoother flow than the proposal, and allow the district to extend the green area a little more.

and how would you propose people go west?

I'm assuming they would take Hendricks up to Atlantic and turn west.  After mulling it over, it's not crazy, but I don't think it will fly.

tufsu1

November 27, 2012, 03:01:09 PM
having run some traffic models for the square, it would add significant delay for westbound travelers as well as those travelling north on Hendricks (for 2 blocks)...and while delay might not be a bad thing, one of the selling points on this happening so quickly was that it actually reduced travel time.

dougskiles

November 27, 2012, 06:42:12 PM
Another reason to keep Balis open is that it provides better access to the shops on the north side of Square.  Without which, we wouldn't have received their support and assistance to make this project happen.

Glad to see the ideas, though.

thelakelander

April 05, 2013, 06:34:46 PM
Update....

Quote
After streetscape, park renovation, San Marco Square 'will be amazing'

By Beth Reese Cravey

Sometime in May expect to hear loud hosannas from San Marco Square.

Ground was broken Friday on an $80,000 donor-funded renovation of Balis Park, which, with its signature white bandstand and three bronze lions, is the centerpiece of the square.

In about six weeks, the park will have more green space, a new traffic pattern through the square that eliminates the existing traffic signal, on-street parking and safer pedestrian crossings.

Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2013-04-05/story/after-streetscape-park-renovation-san-marco-square-will-be-amazing#ixzz2PdBNsmAK

tufsu1

April 05, 2013, 10:43:17 PM
the roadway reconstruction is already underway....Balis has been rebuilt and new medians on Atlantic are going in

ProjectMaximus

April 05, 2013, 11:16:11 PM
awesome!! now let's just get that east san marco project going and a skyway extension...fifteen years from now it's gonna be great!  ;)
View forum thread
Welcome Guest. You must be logged in to comment on this story.

What are the benefits of having a MetroJacksonville.com account?
  • Share your opinion by posting comments on stories that interest you.
  • Stay up to date on all of the latest issues affecting your neighborhood.
  • Create a network of friends working towards a better Jacksonville.
Register now
Already have an account? Login now to comment.