Creating a Better Urban Core and Inner Northside

September 7, 2012 26 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Despite containing most of Jacksonville's dense, walkable and transit dependent neighborhoods, the urban core has lagged behind the rest of the city, economically for six continuous decades. Despite promises of economic revitalization from a laundry list of mayoral administrations, talk has proven to be nothing more than hot air. With no viable solutions coming out of city hall, Metro Jacksonville illustrates how simply allowing the mobility fee moratorium to sunset, can lead to a better urban core.

Did you know that the urban core area of Jacksonville has lost roughly 50% of its population since 1950?
Built to sustain a high density residential population base, this area has the most potential for rejuvenation that can expand our City’s long term economic base.  Furthermore, many of the urban core neighborhoods have a symbiotic relationship with downtown, and all will benefit from enhancements in the area.        

Unfortunately, with Jacksonville's budget situation, discussion at the public level focuses more on what public services and employees to cut and what Northside schools to close than how can we best invest and improve our urban core neighborhoods.  Luckily, there is a way for us to immediately move forward with the improvement of these communities without taking additional funds from the taxpayer or robbing Peter to pay Paul.  The answer is for Jacksonville's city council to let the self imposed mobility fee moratorium sunset this year, allowing the 2030 Mobility Plan to be fully implemented.

What is the Mobility Plan & Fee

The Mobility Plan & Fee is a replacement for the City of Jacksonville's former transportation concurrency system.  It is a plan that provides a framework to integrate land development with mobility (pedestrians, bicycles, transit and roads) by providing the private sector with financial motivation to embrace smart growth principles, like gridded streets, in their project’s design and site selection.

Second, it lays out a mobility fee for new construction throughout the city.  The purpose of that fee is to generate funding needed to enhance public infrastructure negatively impacted by additional vehicle trips from new construction. Developments further from the city core that put more wear and tear on the city's streets and infrastructure will result in higher project mobility fees.

The 2030 Mobility Plan and Fee is structured to stimulate economic opportunity in areas with public infrastructure in place that can support additional market rate development without additional taxpayer dollars.  While much of the public revitalization focus in the urban core has been focused on Springfield, the mobility fee's credit adjustment system helps drive redevelopment to additional neighborhoods that have just as much character.

In addition, the land use component of the 2030 Mobility Plan encourages higher density development along transit corridors and areas of the Northside and urban core that can support it.

What can it do for Jacksonville's Northside and Urban Core

In recent years, the City of Jacksonville Planning and Development Department (COJ-PDD) and community created Urban Core and Northwest Jacksonville vision plans for the area that were also adopted by City Council.

Those community driven vision plans' guiding principles included:

Guiding Principle 1:

Capitalize on the Urban Core’s Uniqueness

Guiding Principle 2:

Promote Mixed-Use/Mixed-Income Redevelopment and Infill

Guiding Principle 3:

Provide a Variety of Transportation Choices

Guiding Principle 4:

Provide for Economic Growth

Guiding Principle 5:

Expand, Protect and Enhance Open Space


This popular version of fixed mass transit would be funded partially by the 2030 Mobility Plan's mobility fee.  When completed, downtown Jacksonville, the urban core and the Northside would be connected to the Jacksonville International Airport and River City Marketplace area by reliable mass transit.  For comparison's sake, Charlotte has witnessed over $2 billion in economic development around its new LNYX light rail line and Tampa's TECO Streetcar has generated over $1 billion in the formerly long economically challenged Channel District.  Soon to be under construction, Milwaukee' streetcar is expected to create over 20,000 inner city jobs over a 20 year horizon. Image by sashimikid at

Aging obsolete industrial areas like the Springfield and Myrtle Avenue warehouse districts are potential transit oriented development districts that the City of Jacksonville owned S-Line corridor presently goes through.  If Jacksonville wants light and commuter rail style transit services, ending the mobility fee moratorium is the most sound option for our community to begin generating the capital to fund its construction and benefit from the economic development and job creation these projects stimulate.  Tampa's TECO Streetcar and the Channel District is a nearby example of a fixed transit line's positive impact on obsolete inner city business districts similar to what litters Jacksonville's Northside.

The Urban Core and Northwest Jacksonville vision plans were born of community effort. However to achieve that vision, they have to be incrementally implemented.  Unfortunately, the City of Jacksonville's budget continues to bleed red and we spend more time finding ways to cut already poor public services than investing in these established communities. Neverthless, while we ponder closing libraries and reducing maintenance of public parks and right-of-way, Northside neighborhoods economic struggles continue to grow, causing steady decline.

What the Mobility Plan & Fee can do for Jacksonville's urban core is generate the funding for that needed for efficient mass transit connectivity and improve the bicycle and pedestrian network throughout the community.  This is infrastructure that not only puts residents back to work but also the type that has stimulated redevelopment in the country's most progressive cities over the last 20 years.  

Just as important, the mobility fee's credit adjustment component provides a financial incentive for private sector market rate reinvestment throughout the Northside and urban core. Quite frankly, for this section of the city, the 2030 Mobility Plan & Fee is the only fiscally sustainable option available to the City of Jacksonville to incrementally implement the community's guiding principles over the next two decades.  However, as long as the city's self imposed moratorium remains in place, all that awaits, what could become an economic powerhouse, is prolonged economic stagnation, failed promises from public servants and severe under-utilization.

Moncrief (above) and Durkeeville (below) are two of many urban core and Northside neighborhoods where economic redevelopment would be made more feasible by allowing the mobility fee moratorium to sunset.

Mobility Plan Projects in the Northside/Urban Core

Already blessed with a connected gridded street network, the majority of mobility plan projects for the urban core are transit, bicycle and pedestrian based infrastructure.  In other words, the missing elements of what was once and should be multimodal friendly urban communities.  Many of these projects are low cost in nature, meaning they can get off the ground and stimulate change in a short period of time.

Northside/Urban Core Automobile/Truck and Transit Mode Projects

1. Streetcar North - Downtown to Shands Jacksonville/8th Street - $21 million

2. S-Line Commuter Rail North - Downtown to Airport Center Drive- $31.25 million (25% local match for an enhanced commuter rail project providing light rail-like service)

3. New Kings Road - Soutel Drive to Edgewood Avenue - $1 million (construction of right turn lanes)

4. Old Kings Road - Edgewood Avenue to Plummer Road (including Dunn Avenue to US 1) - $12 million (intersection improvements)

Northside/Urban Core Bicycle Mode Projects

5. Laura Street - Bay Street to 8th Street - $513,026.92 (Pavement Markings & Signage)

6. Newnan Street - Bay Street to 8th Street - $523,829.71 (Pavement Markings & Signage)

7. Laura Street/13th Street - 8th Street to S-Line corridor - $245,957.70 (Pavement Markings & Signage)

8. Old Kings Road - S-Line corridor to Martha Street - $563,909.04 (Bike Lanes, Pavement Markings & Signage)

9. Dunn Avenue - Biscayne Avenue to Main Street - $574,432.92 (Bike Lanes)

10. Hubbard Street - 8th Street to 14th Street - $162,275.71 (Bike Lanes, Pavement Markings & Signage)

11. Myrtle Avenue - Forest Street to New Kings Road - $447,159.74 (Bike Lane, Pavement Markings & Signage)

12. Tallulah Avenue - 68th Street to Main Street - $307,505.26 (Bike Lane, Pavement Markings & Signage)

13. JTA Bus Rapid Transit Corridor (Jefferson, Forsyth, Boulevard, Broad Streets) - Water Street to Golfair Boulevard - $1,063,807.44 (Bike Lane, Pavement Markings and Signage)

14. CSX North Commuter Rail Corridor - Main Street (Springfield Warehouse District) to Main Street (Trout River) - $1,092,656.45 (Multi Use Path)

15. Moncrief Road - Golfair Blvd to 13th Street - $429,129.10 (Bike Lane, Pavement Markings and Signage)

The four images below were taking in the inner city neighborhoods of the Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL metropolitan area.  These images illustrate the type of bicycle and pedestrian projects the mobility plan and fee would introduce to the grid network of Jacksonville's urban core and Northside.

Northside/Urban Core Pedestrian Mode Project Summary

17. 21st Street - Market Street to CSX Railroad corridor - $17,381.29

18. Buffalo Avenue - 47th Street to CSXT Railroad corridor - $35,617.27

19. Tallulah Avenue - Main Street to 68th Street - $143,411.72

20. Wigmore Street - Tallyrand Avenue (at Norfolk Southern Railroad) to 44th Street - $159,736.56

21. Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway - Moncrief Road to New Kings Road - $465,786.46

22. 30th Street - Nancy to Martha; Division to Canal Street - $44,910.67

23. Canal Street - MLK Jr. Parkway to 30th Street - $64,501.27

24. New Kings Road - Edgewood Avenue to MLK Jr. Parkway - $143,891.95

25. Winona Drive/Evergreen Avenue - Main Street to Wigmore Street - $224,110.72

26. New Kings Road - I-295 to Redpoll Avenue, Moncrief Road to MLK Jr. Parkway - $292,419.31

27. New Kings Road - Soutel to Richardson; Hema to Edgewood - $191,369.25

28. Sibbald Road - Trout River Boulevard to Foxboro Road - $19,667.37

29. Moncrief Road - New Kings Road to Old Kings Road - $15,678.68

30. Edgewood Avenue - North Edgewood Drive to Mclendon Street - $87,478.49 (bridge over Norfolk Southern Railyard)

Source: City of Jacksonville 2030 Multimodal Transportation Study

a map of 2030 Mobility Plan projects in the urban core and inner northside.

How to make it Happen

To move forward, the mobility fee moratorium must be allowed to sunset this fall as opposed to being extended indefinitely into the future.  The easiest way to build support for sunsetting the moratorium is to let your local council representative know that you are a resident who cares for the future of your neighborhood and that you are in favor of allowing the moratorium to end.

District 1: Clay Yarborough

  Phone: (904) 630-1389
  Assistant: BeLinda Peeples

District 2: William Bishop

  Phone: (904) 630-1392
  Assistant: Suzanne Warren

District 3: Richard Clark

  Phone: (904) 630-1386
  Assistant: Sonia Johnson

District 4: Don Redman
 Phone: (904) 630-1394
  Assistant: Scott A. Wilson

District 5: Lori N. Boyer

  Phone: (904) 630-1382
  Assistant: James Nealis

District 6: Matt Schellenberg

  Phone: (904) 630-1388
  Assistant: Audrey Braman

District 7: Dr. Johnny Gaffney
  Phone: (904) 630-1384
  Assistant: Bridgette Rodriguez

District 8: E. Denise Lee

  Phone: (904) 630-1385
  Assistant: Dan Macdonald

District 9: Warren A. Jones

  Phone: (904) 630-1395
  Assistant: Rupel Wells

District 10: Reginald L. Brown

  Phone: (904) 630-1684
  Assistant: Mercedes Parker

District 11: Ray Holt

  Phone: (904) 630-1383
  Assistant: Connie Holt

District 12: Doyle Carter

  Phone: (904) 630-1380
  Assistant: Rebekah Hagan

District 13: Bill Gulliford

  Phone: (904) 630-1397
  Assistant: Stan Johnson

District 14: Jim Love

  Phone: (904) 630-1390
  Assistant: Kevin Kuzel

Group 1: Kimberly Daniels

  Phone: (904) 630-1393
  Assistant: Ricky Anderson

Group 2: John R. Crescimbeni

  Phone: (904) 630-1381

Group 3: Stephen C. Joost

  Phone: (904) 630-1396
  Assistant: Celeste Hicks

Group 4: Greg Anderson

  Phone: (904) 630-1398
  Assistant: Leeann Summerford

Group 5: Robin Lumb

  Phone: (904) 630-1387
  Assistant: Donna Barrow

For more information on the 2030 Mobility Plan and Mobility Fee, CLICK HERE

Article by Ennis Davis