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Mayor Brown's DIA Board Approved, Now What?

On October 15, 2012, Mayor Alvin Brown signed the resolutions leading to the authorization of the nine member Downtown Investment Authority (DIA) to move forward with the task of revitalizing downtown Jacksonville. According to Mayor Brown, "The DIA marks an important step in making Jacksonville the most vibrant and competitive city it can be." Depending on the policies the DIA decide to endorse, the DIA has the potential to either make this statement true or put the final nails in downtown's coffin. Here are four issues the DIA will need to address that will be more important to the future of downtown than the implementation and make up of the agency itself.

Published October 16, 2012 in Urban Issues      32 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article



Strengthening downtown's connectivity with alternative forms of mobility (transit, cycling, walking, etc.) is an example of an incremental approach to stimulating long term life and living in downtown.


Charlotte is an example of a city that has enhanced growth within its central business district and surrounding urban neighborhoods by strengthening mass transit, bicycle, and pedestrian connectivity.  Today, it is possible to live in a neighborhood outside of Uptown Charlotte and still have direct multimodal access its destinations.  This connectivity instantly creates market rate residential and commercial activity in downtown and connecting districts.


3. Facilitating the market rate development opportunities


Nearly 2,000 students and faculty members of Florida Coastal School of Law spend considerable time at this secluded office building off Interstate 95 instead of downtown Jacksonville.


In 2004, the Florida Coastal School of Law considered relocating its campus to downtown.  However, citing not being able to resolve parking issues, they ultimately ended up purchasing an office building in a Baymeadows office park for their new campus and the opportunity was lost.  This summer, popular local brewer Intuition Ale Works expressed interest in developing a downtown brewery.  Again, inaction at the public level has caused another innovative infill possibility to shift their expansion efforts to areas outside of downtown.  

Both cases represent examples of opportunities that cities such as Charlotte and Oklahoma City have had success in capitalizing on.  Both cases also join a laundry list of opportunities where Jacksonville has failed to answer the knock on the door.  In the past, the even the former Downtown Development Authority has failed to deliver.  Seizing unique opportunities for infill development, both large and small scale, will be instrumental in determining the DIA's impact on downtown's future.


While we failed to close the deal with a school that publicly announced a desire to be downtown, Charlotte is an example of a city that took the extra mile to convince Johnson & Wales University to close campuses in Charleston, SC and Norfolk, VA, and relocate to a new campus in Uptown Charlotte.  The 250 employee JWU Charlotte Campus opened in 2004 and now has grown to an enrollment of 2,800 students, many of which live in three Uptown Charlotte residential halls.


4. Recognizing the importance of existing building fabric


With this 1940's era aerial of downtown Jacksonville, it's easier to point out what's left than to count what has been destroyed (highlighted in yellow).

One of the special characteristics of urban environments around the world is the element of sense-of-place.  The authenticity and evolution of existing pedestrian scale building fabric plays a critical role.  In addition, the availability of existing building fabric plays a crucial role in attracting market rate adaptive reuse opportunities for small businesses.  By undervaluing the importance of existing building stock, many previous redevelopment strategies have harmed downtown at an extreme cost to the Jacksonville taxpayer. At the same time, several commercial districts where building fabric has remained have come back to life with little to no help from public redevelopment agencies.

Riverside/Avondale's King Street, which includes several restaurants, bars, breweries, and art galleries serves as a shining example of new vibrant uses utilizing the type of structures that have been allowed to fall in downtown's never ending game of falling dominoes.  As a result, districts like San Marco Square and Five Points have the type of activity envisioned for a successful downtown while downtown enjoys a plethora of parking lots where buildings once stood.  The DIA will have the ability to contribute to the deconstruction of downtown Jacksonville or preserve and better utilize what remains of it.


Sprawling Oklahoma City found a way to get creative with historic building fabric by transforming an obsolete warehouse district into a nationwide urban entertainment destination.  They didn't have an amenity like a St. Johns River, Hogans Creek, or McCoys Creek.  So they took a street and created one.

Editorial by Ennis Davis


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32 Comments

dougskiles

October 16, 2012, 05:55:27 AM
Good article.  The DIA has its first meeting tomorrow (Wednesday), 2 pm at City Hall.

Florida Times-Union had an article this morning about the DIA and focused on a topic that those of us living in the In Town Neighborhoods have been saying for a while:

Quote
Historic Neighbohoods could be secret weapon as Jacksonville looks to revitalize its Downtown

Carmen Godwin summed it up perfectly:

Quote
“Transportation is really the key to it all,” she said.

Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2012-10-15/story/historic-neighborhoods-could-be-secret-weapon-jacksonville-looks#ixzz29SDDfm25

Three transit connections that are continually discussed on this forum could have a significant effect on Downtown:

1. Riverside streetcar
2. S-line commuter rail (Springfield)
3. Skyway extension to Atlantic Blvd (San Marco)

All three could be accomplished for the cost of the overpasses built by the BJP.

Charles Hunter

October 16, 2012, 06:45:49 AM
Which is why it is critical to let the Mobility Fee Moratorium expire.

thelakelander

October 16, 2012, 06:48:33 AM
Did you guys catch the news about FDOT preparing to replace the Sisters Creek drawbridge on Heckscher Drive with a fixed structure?  The cost is $52 million and FDOT estimates 3,600 drivers use the road each day. 

http://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/showstory.php?Story_id=537749

$52 million would fund both a streetcar between Five Points and downtown and a skyway extension to Atlantic Boulevard.  Such an investment would generate more everyday use and encourage hundreds of millions of infill in Brooklyn, LaVilla, Downtown, and the Kings Avenue area of San Marco.

Bill Hoff

October 16, 2012, 07:17:58 AM
Great piece. I suppose we'll find out "now what?" pretty soon....

thelakelander

October 16, 2012, 07:47:11 AM
One thing we never mention about downtown (the Northbank) is, it hasn't had 5,000 or 10,000 residents living in it the majority of the previous 100 years.  In the first two decades after the Great Fire, it rapidly redeveloped as a logistical hub, industrial and commercial center.  On the other hand, your dense residential areas were LaVilla, Brooklyn and the ring of urban core neighborhoods like Springfield, Sugar Hill, New Town, Riverside, San Marco/South Jacksonville, Eastside, etc. that were probably twice as dense than they are today. 

However, they were connected to downtown with a 60-mile streetcar network.  As a result, downtown greatly benefited as being a commercialized epicenter for this urban population.  When that population declined and connectivity was severed, so did the commercial prospects of downtown.  The reestablishment of transit, bicycle, and pedestrian connectivity between downtown and the surrounding ring of neighborhoods is an easily first step in resolving many of the ills impacting downtown.

With that said, you can use fixed transit connectivity, just like we use highway construction, as a tool to attract market rate development along the selected corridor.  This method of rapidly growing a supportive population base has worked well for Charlotte, Salt Lake City, St. Louis, Denver, Dallas, San Diego, etc.  This is something should definitely be looked at in greater detail because its much easier to tap into an existing resource than the grow one from scratch in an environment where it has never really existed.

Noone

October 16, 2012, 07:52:30 AM
Urban tactical connectivity of our St. Johns River our American Heritage River a Federal Innitiative under a new Downtown Authority will soon tell the world if we really are a Great River or if it's Shipyards III. Pick and choose the winners and losers.

simms3

October 16, 2012, 08:05:26 AM
Who are the 9 members of the DIA?

thelakelander

October 16, 2012, 08:07:36 AM
Mayor Brown’s selections for the DIA board are:
 
Melody S. Bishop – An architect with Akel, Logan & Shafer who serves on the AIA Florida Board of Directors and the Florida Foundation for Architecture Board of Trustees. Her firm is located in the Downtown area.
 
Robert M. Clements – Chairman and CEO of EverBank, which recently relocated 1,500 employees to the new EverBank Center in Downtown.
 
Kamaria (Kay) Harper – A practicing attorney with the Harper Law Firm and a Downtown resident.
 
Paul Perez – Former U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida and current Chief Compliance Officer for Fidelity National Financial, which is located in the Downtown area.
 
Donald Harris – General Manager of the Wyndham Jacksonville Riverwalk Hotel, which is located on the Southbank.
 
Council President Bill Bishop’s selections for the DIA board are:
 
Antonio Allegretti – Southbank resident with business management experience as the founding director of the Riverside Arts Market and a partner in Downtown’s Burrito Gallery restaurant. Currently serving as the Director of Downtown Engagement for the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce.
 
James F. Bailey Jr. – Downtown business and property owner as the President of Bailey Publishing and Communications and Publisher of The Financial News & Daily Record.
 
Oliver Barakat – A senior vice president for CBRE who represented EverBank in the company’s recent move of 1,500 employees Downtown to the former AT&T Tower.
 
Donald A. Shea – Urban planner who serves as the executive director of the nonpartisan Jacksonville Civic Council and has extensive experience in economic development, including service as the executive director of the Shreveport Downtown Development Authority and President and CEO of the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership.

spuwho

October 16, 2012, 08:49:00 AM
Did you guys catch the news about FDOT preparing to replace the Sisters Creek drawbridge on Heckscher Drive with a fixed structure?  The cost is $52 million and FDOT estimates 3,600 drivers use the road each day. 

http://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/showstory.php?Story_id=537749

$52 million would fund both a streetcar between Five Points and downtown and a skyway extension to Atlantic Boulevard.  Such an investment would generate more everyday use and encourage hundreds of millions of infill in Brooklyn, LaVilla, Downtown, and the Kings Avenue area of San Marco.

Lake,  I would see any Heckscher improvements as an offset to a future discontinued Mayport Ferry.

Would you agree?

Reducing Heckscher transit times eventually takes pressure off the ferry.

However, I do agree with you that money seems to be in everyone's budget for road upgrades, but not for transit related activities. Clearly a sign of a lack of a strategic plan and political will.

thelakelander

October 16, 2012, 08:56:59 AM
spuwho, I believe the bridge is structurally deficient, so some type of replacement is needed.  So I'm not claiming that it should be allowed to fall into the creek.  I was making the comment to point out the associated dollar figure and compare that cost to what you could get with fixed mass transit. 

For some reason, we don't blink an eye with every overpass project that routinely costs more than $50 million.  However, if you mentioned spending $50 million on mass transit around this place, opposition would fly out of the woodworks, despite being able to improve that it would return more ROI and generate more usage.

Spence

February 06, 2013, 06:01:53 AM
Can anyone explain exactly WHY the opening photograph to this essay and statistics is of the Timuquana Golf and Country Club view of the downtown skyline from the pool deck?

Charles Hunter

February 06, 2013, 06:41:19 AM
Because it is a nice view of all of downtown?  Just guessing.

thelakelander

February 06, 2013, 06:47:33 AM
Can anyone explain exactly WHY the opening photograph to this essay and statistics is of the Timuquana Golf and Country Club view of the downtown skyline from the pool deck?

It's a story about downtown, which the photo has a skyline view of.

Captain Zissou

February 06, 2013, 09:34:40 AM
Can anyone explain exactly WHY the opening photograph to this essay and statistics is of the Timuquana Golf and Country Club view of the downtown skyline from the pool deck?

WHY is that such a big deal to you?

Cheshire Cat

April 22, 2013, 08:36:35 PM
Several month's into the process of finding a CEO for the DIA there are apparently 61 applications on file with no cut off date.

Quote
CEO: Short list of candidates expected this week
Monday, April 4, 11:02 AM EDT

by David Chapman, Staff Writer
The search firm recruiting candidates to become the first CEO of the City's Downtown Investment Authority is in the final stages of interviews, with a goal of presenting a "short list" of candidates to the authority by the end of this week.

Todd Jorgenson, managing director and principal of Jorgenson Consulting, said Thursday the search is "at the back end" of the process and he hopes the six to eight candidates he will submit to the authority will be interviewed as soon as possible.

As of Friday, 61 people had submitted their resume or letter of interest for the position, according to a list of applicants obtained by a public records request.

Of the 61, several appear to have ties to Northeast Florida.

They are Tara Gardner, a third-party claims adjuster with Transfield Services; William Spann, CEO of International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association; Michael Danhour, chief operating officer of J. Henderson Co.; Darren Gardner, director and site coordinator at Edward Waters College; Christopher Flagg, founder and principal of Flagg Design Studio; Lisa Kiernan, a resolutions and receivership specialist at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.; and Joseph Wyzkoski III, director of operations and distribution with Ignitions Music Magazine.

Several others — Roscoe Morton Jr., Charles Everett, Temika Jones and Ramon Clemente — listed Florida as their location, but there was not enough information to determine local ties.

In addition, Jorgenson said he has proactively contacted individuals to gauge interest, with some coming from "target communities."

He defined the term as a city or community with a similar makeup to Jacksonville — not necessarily in population — with a downtown that has undergone a "renaissance" with a vision and strategy set by the public and private sectors.

He declined to identify which communities he considered to be Jacksonville's counterparts, citing the confidentiality of the search.

Those who Jorgenson might have contacted but have not submitted their interest in writing were not required to be on the list.

"Overall, it's gone very well and has been very well received," he said of the search.

There is no official cutoff date for applications
  http://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/showstory.php?Story_id=539287

thelakelander

April 23, 2013, 09:19:01 AM
Here is a link to the list of DIA CEO applicants:

http://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/showstory.php?Story_id=539287

carpnter

April 23, 2013, 09:41:05 AM
Here is a link to the list of DIA CEO applicants:

http://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/showstory.php?Story_id=539287

Maybe I should apply, I am more qualified than some of those applying for the job and I know I don't have the qualifications or experience for the position.

CityLife

April 23, 2013, 10:30:33 AM
Chris Flagg looks like the only local with a shot. Would like to be able to see more info about the candidates, but there are some good titles there:

Odis Jones-Director of Economic Development-Cincinnati
Kevin Hanna-Director of Real Estate-New Orleans Redevelopment Authority
Abigail Rider-Associate VP and Director of Campus properties-Yale-which is located in an urban area
Javier Betancourt-Deputy Director-Miami Downtown Development Authority
James Edwards-Charleston Urban Renewal Authority

Hard to really tell about the private sector folks without their bios.

CityLife

April 23, 2013, 01:15:21 PM
As we've seen before, there are probably some very good candidates that haven't yet submitted due to Sunshine Laws and want to ensure they are serious candidates before going public. Looks like we already have some viable candidates and hopefully there are even more behind the curtain.

thelakelander

April 23, 2013, 04:53:58 PM
Quote
James Edwards-Charleston Urban Renewal Authority

Edwards was over Lakeland's DDA when they first started implementing their revitalization plans in the late 1980s/early 1990s.  Growing up in the area back then, I remember downtown Lakeland was in pretty bad shape.  It even had a few long abandoned 1920s highrises like the Trio that were full of homeless that many wanted demolished.  Still following that plan, here's what downtown Lakeland looks like today:



Link to downtown Lakeland photo tour: http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2010-jul-elements-of-urbanism-lakeland

At some point in the 1990s, he left Lakeland to take a similar position in Hollywood, FL.  I was down in Hollywood two years ago for a wedding and spent some time exploring that downtown.



link to downtown Hollywood photo tour: http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2011-mar-elements-of-urbanism-hollywood

My casual observation from the redevelopment of those two downtowns is that today both seem to be a lot more lively, cleaner, pedestrian friendly, and better maintained than downtown Jacksonville.  Also, for all the excuses we come up with why our downtown looks the way it does, those city's downtowns had more to overcome.

Tacachale

April 23, 2013, 05:03:59 PM
That Hollywood Boulevard strip is pretty cool. We were there a few years ago, also for a wedding in the area. I forget why we even stopped in Hollywood, but we stumbled on that strip. Something like that in Downtown Jax would be awesome.

tufsu1

April 23, 2013, 10:03:04 PM
Thaddeus Cohen is the last name on the list....he was previously Secretary of DCA under Gov. Bush....and then moved on to the City of Pensacola as its CRA director

Noone

April 24, 2013, 05:14:22 AM
Here is a link to the list of DIA CEO applicants:

http://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/showstory.php?Story_id=539287

Odis, Gets my vote.

thelakelander

April 24, 2013, 06:14:24 AM
^The Daily Record says Odis Jones is currently the Director of Economic Development in Cincinnati. Here's a brief press release of him taking the Cincinnati job last April.  Before then, he was the Director of Urban Development for the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.

Quote
Odis Jones Named New City of Cincinnati Economic Development Director

Cincinnati City Manager Milton Dohoney announced today that Odis Jones will join the Administration as the City of Cincinnati’s new Director of Economic Development, effective April 22, 2012.

Mr. Jones is presently the Director of Urban Development for the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. He has worked under two state administrations to drive investment and development in the urban areas throughout the state of New Jersey.

His background includes serving as President and CEO of the Columbus Urban Growth Corporation, a citywide public-private entity that handled economic development for the city.

Mr. Jones’ experience also extends in the city management realm, having served as City Administrator in two suburban communities: Obetz, Ohio and Keokuk, Iowa. Additionally, he spent five years handling special projects for the City Manager of Battle Creek, Mich.

He has an MPA from Western Michigan University and a BS from Central Michigan University, where he also played football. He is a public board member of the International Council of Shopping Centers, a member of the City/County Management Association, the American Planning Association and the International Economic Development Council.

http://www.choosecincy.com/news/odis_jones_named_new_city_of_cincinnati_economic_development_director

video: http://www.wcpo.com/dpp/news/local_news/crystal-faulkner-interviews-otis-jones

thelakelander

April 26, 2013, 07:09:09 PM
Eight finalists named for CEO of Downtown Investment Authority

Quote
Thaddeus L. Cohen, former assistant city manager and community redevelopment executive director for the city of Pensacola

Christopher A. DiGeorge, founder and managing partner, DiGeorge Atlantic, a real estate firm in Philadelphia

James H. Edwards, executive director, Charleston Urban Renewal Authority, Charleston, W.V.

Kevin R. Hanna, director of real estate development, New Orleans Redevelopment Authority

Michael T. Maher, founding director, Charleston Civic Design Center, Charleston, S.C.

James Schimmer, director, department of economic development, Franklin County, Ohio

Andi Udris, president, Cincinnati Restaurant Group

Aundra C. Wallace, executive director, Detroit Land Bank Authority

http://www.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/news/2013/04/26/seven-finalists-named-for-ceo-of.html

urbaknight

May 01, 2013, 03:55:29 PM
Eight finalists named for CEO of Downtown Investment Authority

Quote
Thaddeus L. Cohen, former assistant city manager and community redevelopment executive director for the city of Pensacola

Christopher A. DiGeorge, founder and managing partner, DiGeorge Atlantic, a real estate firm in Philadelphia

James H. Edwards, executive director, Charleston Urban Renewal Authority, Charleston, W.V.

Kevin R. Hanna, director of real estate development, New Orleans Redevelopment Authority

Michael T. Maher, founding director, Charleston Civic Design Center, Charleston, S.C.

James Schimmer, director, department of economic development, Franklin County, Ohio

Andi Udris, president, Cincinnati Restaurant Group

Aundra C. Wallace, executive director, Detroit Land Bank Authority

http://www.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/news/2013/04/26/seven-finalists-named-for-ceo-of.html






I bet they give the job to Cohen. They certainly won't give the job to an urban-oriented Yankee like they should!

JeffreyS

May 01, 2013, 06:53:31 PM
Perhaps the DIA could throw some money at the Brooklyn retail for some pedestrian concessions.

Cheshire Cat

May 01, 2013, 08:12:16 PM
Eight finalists named for CEO of Downtown Investment Authority

Quote
Thaddeus L. Cohen, former assistant city manager and community redevelopment executive director for the city of Pensacola

Christopher A. DiGeorge, founder and managing partner, DiGeorge Atlantic, a real estate firm in Philadelphia

James H. Edwards, executive director, Charleston Urban Renewal Authority, Charleston, W.V.

Kevin R. Hanna, director of real estate development, New Orleans Redevelopment Authority

Michael T. Maher, founding director, Charleston Civic Design Center, Charleston, S.C.

James Schimmer, director, department of economic development, Franklin County, Ohio

Andi Udris, president, Cincinnati Restaurant Group

Aundra C. Wallace, executive director, Detroit Land Bank Authority

http://www.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/news/2013/04/26/seven-finalists-named-for-ceo-of.html






I bet they give the job to Cohen. They certainly won't give the job to an urban-oriented Yankee like they should!
Which Yankee you talking about?  :)

urbaknight

May 03, 2013, 02:20:10 PM
Eight finalists named for CEO of Downtown Investment Authority

Quote
Thaddeus L. Cohen, former assistant city manager and community redevelopment executive director for the city of Pensacola

Christopher A. DiGeorge, founder and managing partner, DiGeorge Atlantic, a real estate firm in Philadelphia

James H. Edwards, executive director, Charleston Urban Renewal Authority, Charleston, W.V.

Kevin R. Hanna, director of real estate development, New Orleans Redevelopment Authority

Michael T. Maher, founding director, Charleston Civic Design Center, Charleston, S.C.

James Schimmer, director, department of economic development, Franklin County, Ohio

Andi Udris, president, Cincinnati Restaurant Group

Aundra C. Wallace, executive director, Detroit Land Bank Authority

http://www.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/news/2013/04/26/seven-finalists-named-for-ceo-of.html






I bet they give the job to Cohen. They certainly won't give the job to an urban-oriented Yankee like they should!
Which Yankee you talking about?  :)


Any one of them. We have some of the biggest cities in the world up there. Urban projects are constantly going on without any effort and without people like us trying to tell them what they're doing wrong; and what would be an easy fix. As far as urban planning and urban living goes, they got it! And I just think that we'd be smart to transplant some of that down here.

I really mean no disrespect, it's just that here in Florida all of the decision makers all know each other and are all friends. They are also friends with the special interests. (just look at the whole mobility fee moratorium crap) We need a complete outsider and maybe even someone who doesn't like us very much, but is willing to show everyone that things can be turned around.

fieldafm

May 03, 2013, 02:26:02 PM
Quote
Urban projects are constantly going on without any effort and without people like us trying to tell them what they're doing wrong

That is definately not accurate.  I can tell you from experience that no matter what city you go to or how solid a city's built environment is, you always have neighborhood advocates that give input into land use issues.

urbaknight

May 03, 2013, 03:09:58 PM
I guess the authorities actually listen to them then. I haven't noticed, I just remember things being built and not many complained.

tufsu1

May 03, 2013, 10:44:27 PM
I really mean no disrespect, it's just that here in Florida all of the decision makers all know each other and are all friends. They are also friends with the special interests. (just look at the whole mobility fee moratorium crap) We need a complete outsider and maybe even someone who doesn't like us very much, but is willing to show everyone that things can be turned around.

you do realize the one guy has spent his entire career, except for the last 2 years, in Florida right?
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