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A New Look For Riverside Avenue

EUJacksonville's Morgan Henley summarizes the major developments happening on Riverside Avenue/Brooklyn. Henley describes the Riverside Ave developments as examples of public, private and nonprofit organizations working together to create what may become one of the more interesting corridors in Jacksonville.

Published August 11, 2013 in Development      4 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


Unity Plaza Concept Art

For anyone who is interested in the future of the city, the northern stretch of the Riverwalk and its adjacent Riverside Avenue, recently dubbed the Riverside Corridor, is an important piece of Jacksonville to watch. Not only is it bringing innovative cultural, health, environmental, and educational improvements to our center, it is also showing the city a new form of community development. Attracting serious plans for new buildings and renovations, this area has been quite successful in grabbing the attention needed to unite a wide variety of players from across the city.

Unity Plaza

One of the major pieces of the up-and-coming Riverside Corridor is the 220 Riverside. The project’s groundwork along the tree-studded Riverside Avenue gives citizens a peek of what’s to come. This new apartment complex and family-living area is being built in conjunction with Unity Plaza, a multi-use, creative space that will boast a 2,000 seat amphitheatre. Both are slated to open next year. The project hopes to be a cultural epicenter for the city’s urban core, akin to a downtown “Central Park.”

This project’s development follows a recurring trend, one popping up not only in Jacksonville, but in places all over the country: growing partnerships between private firms and nonprofit organizations. All of the U.S. has had to struggle with the setbacks of the Great Recession; many of our local governments are still very much wrestling with major budget constraints, and communities are being forced to look for creative partnerships to see development in their areas. The Unity Plaza is a prime example of this hybrid. While it is primarily an undertaking by three private property development firms, Hallmark Partners, MAA, and Bristol Development Group, the creative space is going to be managed by a nonprofit organization, Unity Plaza, Inc., with the aim of providing the public with arts programming throughout the year.

Unity Plaza Under Construction

“Collaboration between nonprofits is nothing new, and nonprofits have always relied on other parts of the sector for volunteers, funding, or things like that. But now, we’re seeing nonprofits as equal partners in other kinds of collaborations,” says Rena Coughlin, CEO of the Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida. “Our results from public surveys show that nonprofits are more trusted than private, government, or any other entity that we’ve tested. People trust nonprofits, and thats a huge advantage for businesses who want to get something done. So now there is a new flow of nontraditional partnerships.”

“Jacksonville is chock full of thought-leaders and change-agents, not commanding our city government to improve Jacksonville, but physically being the catalyst for change they seek in our community,” says Jen Jones, Executive Director of Unity Plaza. “Historically, we have had very limited cultural support from our city government. Therefore, a bottom-up leadership approach has emerged. We are comfortable collaborating, pulling up our sleeves and facilitating the work, fundraising and bringing other thought-leaders into our working plans for a better Jacksonville. These thoughtful and inspired people will coalesce on the grounds of Unity Plaza and give rise to the ideas that shape Jacksonville’s brilliant future.”

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August 11, 2013, 06:41:29 AM
The Riverwalk Project and a Fith major area that would be PUBLIC Access to our St. Johns River our American Heritage River a FEDERAL Initiative in our new highly restricted DIA zone.

So will the RAM dock now be opened when RAM is not open?  A kayak logo for Sydney Geffen Park? An amendment to 2013-384 for access to Hogans Creek? Will the proposed new floating dock on the Southbank have 24/7 Public Access?

The Riverwalk Project presented at Waterways prior to One Spark and my first reaction was a presentation on Shipyards. Remember Shipyards? $36,500,000 of taxpayer money gone. 150 slip marina and not one slip for the Public. 16 acres of Public Space. Landmar comes in. 16 acres of Public Space reduced to 8 acres. 150 slip marina and not one slip for the Public. Also the ability to shut down the Riverwalk 12 times a year. Now our new DIA and at a Downtown Experience Committee meeting of the DIA sitting next to Scott Wilson during the pre 30 day posting of an RFI or RFP on Shipyards I asked If anyone wanted to use the existing floating dock that is the only Public Access point to this 40 plus acres of Public property from the water for recreational or commercial purposes can you. And the immediate response back from Tony Allegretti and Paul Crawford was NO! NO! NO! Back me up on that Scott.

And for some of my fellow MJ'ers and you know who you are we have all given up asking you know who about you know what.

The Riverwalk Project would not be complete without my favorite. The Jim Love, Kevin Kuzel, 26'Berkman floating dock compromise (Shipyards III) Misrepresented by OGC to the Jacksonville Waterways Commission during the 2013 FIND grant application process.

An app for Health,
                Arts and Entertainment,
Future apps should include:
Palms Fish Camp- A million bucks and you never even open the door.
Waterways 3 days out. Anyone want to donate a buck to 2009-442 The Artificial Reef Trust Fund?
CCA- Corrupt Council Area Reef an App for that too.


October 22, 2013, 01:16:18 AM
Going back to this article since it harps on design and planning for new development in this confined area, I came across what I think is a relevant local article from today talking about a new infill multifamily development in a lower-density, gentrifying area of town.  Quotes and pictures below, as well as link.  I hope we can up our standards going forward in terms of design, layout, spatiality, integration, etc.  Charlotte, Atlanta, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Austin, and Nashville aren't really even putting up anything this refined, but it doesn't mean a "behind" city like Jax can't spontaneously figure how to up the bar similarly and keep rents market.


The permits to demolish the little maintenance buildings and three acre bus depot at 8th and Harrison in order to make way for eight buildings with 408 new rental units over ground floor retail, arts, and commercial space are close to being approved, as is the permit to construct the five and six-story 350 8th Street buildings which is currently on hold in order to resolve some issues with respect to the street and sidewalk improvements attached to the plans (click images to enlarge).

The 350 8th Street project's 315 off-street parking spaces for cars and 414 spaces for bikes will mostly be located underground or within the interior of the Stud-adjacent site.

In addition to 44,000 square feet of open space throughout the development, the project includes a 5,400 square foot public plaza and café on the corner of 8th and Ringold:

Construction is currently slated to start in early 2014.


October 22, 2013, 06:14:47 AM
Great looking project. It will be nice if Jax can start to see stuff of similar density and pedestrian scale interactivity come online.


October 23, 2013, 01:28:41 PM
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