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Against The Odds: Miracle Successes on King Street

Since 2007, the country and the City of Jacksonville have experienced the worst global economic downturn since the Great Depression. The collapse of markets and real estate values across the United States were echoed in the monstrous slowdowns of long established profit centers here in Jville. However, in the midst of all this doom and gloom, Riverside witnessed a pretty incredible boom in the heart of one of its most historic districts. Led by small businesses and a water change in the public's desire for walkable neighborhoods with local convenient businesses, the King Street has exploded in growth, new prospects, entrepreneurial spirit and public affection. And they did it over the active opposition of neighborhood and historic groups and even job killing legislation from Councilmen Jim Love and Robin Lumb. Despite the mayhem, you can check out all the new action, remodeling, and bright new prospects after the jump!

Published February 7, 2013 in Neighborhoods      33 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article



Article by Stephen Dare
with additional text by David Paulk

Prior to the amazing redevelopment of the past couple of years, King Street had been problematic for the better part of 40 years.  Despite the occasional amazing venues for the independent and alternative scene that had been located in this area, its been various degrees of seedy for decades.  

While Post and King was the eponymous location of Post and King Liquors (where some of the best punk band performers in the country performed), and the iconoclastic Art Bar owned by Christy Clark was just a few blocks away, not to mention the proximity of the 730 Club,  there were definitely some rough patches.

From the 80s all the way through to the end of the Art Bar era, there were always drug dealers and male hustlers working Park and King, and Post and King.  The only thing that changed was the gradual lightening of the skin colors of the professionals who worked there at night.

The area was notorious for it. (and predictably well patronized.)

And so it went until about four years ago.

When Kickbacks transferred to new management, the clientele began to change noticeably.  The simple fact that there were people walking back and forth from the restaurant to their cars ended up being a real crime deterrent in the neighborhood, as police were called when things happened, and the cops began to patrol through the area more frequently and with more purpose due to the number of people dining there past 2 in the morning.  

Nothing is more beneficial to a developing district than a business of this sort:  Responsible owners and managers who must provide a safe environment for their patrons if they want to stay open.

Without any public commendation or apparently notice, the management (and customers) of Kickback's managed to do what decades of community watch programs failed to do.  

They made King Street safe to walk down.  The sidewalk seating and table service outside saw to that.

Thanks and recognition should be given to the offbeat establishment.  Followers of events for the past year know that this is the exact opposite of what happened for them as they tried to open a second location, Guttyworks and Guzzlepipes.

But the past two years especially have witnessed miraculous and transformational change.

For reasons which future generations will never fully understand the improvements themselves were opposed and nearly killed by anti business activists in the neighborhood, adding what would be an insurmountable series of obstacles to the already catastrophic national economy.  Somehow these efforts have not been enough to kill the transformation. Really, not even to slow it down.  With the knowledge that this district is still growing lets take a look at the changes:

A little over three years ago, the surprisingly young and hip Scott McAllister opened an establishment at the corner of Post and King called "Walkers" (now called "The Garage"). In person he is memorably calm and deep voiced, surprisingly empathetic, attractively confident, and has the temperament of a chilled slab of marble.)  He decided on a remarkably contemporary interior for a credible Wine Bar.  It brought (reluctantly) a different kind of clientele to the area, and provided a walkable destination to go find a drinkable glass of wine, and encouraged the patronage of the more affluent residents in the surrounding neighborhood to do something in the district besides dart into Liz Grenamyer's for catering trays.

After an uncertain year of moderate sale, McAllister decided to redevelop an equally hip, but cooler full liquor bar: The Loft.  The opening of the Loft has proven to be a tipping point.

The Loft attracted a great cross section of the type of customers that make an urban neighborhood so cool. And the design of the district, perhaps by accident, manages to incorporate all of the elements that create a vibrant street scene.  Greenspacing, public seating, line of site activity.  Streets, sidewalks, and businesses that are in physical communication with each other.  Niche concept clustering that creates a neighborhood identity.  A year later, he added "The Rogue", a smaller, whiskey based bar that attracted a slightly different clientele that comfortably overlapped with his Loft patrons.

Above all, there are finally people.  Lots of people.  In fact the crowds are vibrant and wonderful.  Getting thick on the ground on weekend nights, and miraculously there is visibly walking traffic going back and forth between the friendly neighboring establishments.

We highly recommend giving the area a look.  Go on the weekends.  Eat at Kickbacks Gastropub.  It has brilliant food for surprisingly reasonable prices.  Have a glass of nice wine.  Check out the laid back glbt bar, Park Place.  Go look cool and get a bit tipsy at the Loft (grab the power seating upstairs).  Hang out with the crowd of your choice in the sidewalk seating areas that line the streets.  Try something wonderful at Salty Fig or Pele's.  Pick up an import six pack from Beer:30.  Try the Diner Breakfast Stout at Intuition Aleworks.  Check out a show at CoRK.

Check out all the coverage of the King Street District!

MetroJacksonville's Main Article  

Two awesome photo essays from Somewhere in the City:
Sweet Theory Bakery
Viva la Thrifty



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33 Comments

vicupstate

February 07, 2013, 05:12:43 AM
When was the streetscaping done in relation to the business renaissance?

fsujax

February 07, 2013, 08:06:59 AM
about 15+ years ago. I remember when First Guranty had all that installed, I was in high school at Lee.

TPC

February 07, 2013, 08:25:52 AM
I'm so happy to see King street gain momentum and turn into the bustling area it always had the potential to be. I've lived off of King street around the corner from Kickbacks as well as off of Downing a block from Carmines and I'm still amazed at how crowded it now gets on weekends.

One thing I would add is that while the area has changed so much for the better in a few years, I've noticed in the past year or so the clientele has shifted from more locally supported to more people driving in from the beaches and Southside.

Has anyone else noticed this shift?

morgjen

February 07, 2013, 08:39:28 AM
Great article. Also wanted to mention Sweet Theory bakery.

thelakelander

February 07, 2013, 08:45:34 AM
Here are a few images of Sweet Theory Baking Company:







Quote
About

Riverside's Allergy Friendly Bakery (more appealing than it sounds)

Description

Doughnuts, Cupcakes, Cookie Sandwiches, Bars, Buns, Brooklyn Egg Creams, Italian Sodas and more made using the highest quality All Natural and Organic ingredients including Organic Cold-Pressed Coconut Oil, Agave Nectar, and Organic Whole Cane Sugar. All treats are free of Eggs, Dairy, Soy, and Peanuts. Gluten Free options available Daily!

https://www.facebook.com/SweetRevolutionBakingCo

1243 King Street
Jacksonville, Florida 32204
(904) 387-1001

David

February 07, 2013, 09:48:41 AM
One thing I would add is that while the area has changed so much for the better in a few years, I've noticed in the past year or so the clientele has shifted from more locally supported to more people driving in from the beaches and Southside.

Has anyone else noticed this shift?

Definitely . Especially in King St.  Five points still has the local feel but I have noticed some of the King St venues have a “southsidey/beach” feel to them at times.  (Not a bad thing, I’m in exile myself deep within Mandarin at the moment)

It’s good for business. There’s only so many people in Riverside, you need to have that citywide pull to be successful.  I drive past a few dozen restaurants/bars near my house to go to the ones in Riverside just for the atmosphere & people.

But yes, i'm stuck in the Fuel/Artbar days of Riverside so I do experience a bit of culture shock/nostalgia for the past in when hanging out over there. It's not the same grungy Riverside with two night life spots and once place to eat late that it was in the 90's and early 2000s.  It feels....less "stabby" now.



PeeJayEss

February 07, 2013, 09:50:48 AM
Cool article. When I moved to Riverside (on post 3 doors down from then Walkers), Kickbacks, Walkers, and Jackson's were all that was open. The area has changed so much in 2.5 years. I'm not saying it's because I moved there, but the evidence is pretty strong.   :P

Sweet Theory is awesome, and I don't really like sweets.

I'd add (though I'm not sure if you're focusing on nightlife or what):
Soup's On!
Jensen Hande Studio, as well as the new thrift shop and the memorabilia shop. These stores have had pretty high turnover, but hopefully they've found a few that will stick.
Whiteway probably deserves some credit for sticking with the neighborhood for so long
Panda Express (or Panada whatever, I always confuse its name with the chain) - for adding culinary variety to the neighborhood, but also being so gracious with their parking lot.

And will people for the love of God go to Primi Piatti!

And that First Guarantee monster needs to go (or at least lose some weight). Burger King I guess is a remnant of when Post/College were raceways? They have 4 times the parking needed, I'm sure RAP LOVES them.

Captain Zissou

February 07, 2013, 09:51:22 AM
Amazing article.  This will be one of the year's best.

A couple things to note....  You'd be hard pressed to find an import at Beer:30, as they stock only American made craft beers.  That said they have over 600 to choose from, so you should be able to find what you want without having to jump the pond.  Also, i believe you mean the Truck Stop Breakfast Stout at Intuition.  It's definitely a funky and unique flavor.  I recently did a tasting there with 6 or 7 coworkers and many of the traditionally non-beer drinkers enjoyed the Truck Stop and favored it over the King Street Stout.  In my mind, it's pretty tough to beat the King Street, unless it's the Underdark.  NOTHING BEATS THE UNDERDARK.

I have had the opportunity to get to know some of the owners of these establishments and contribute pieces to metrojacksonville on them.  When I interviewed Scott McAlister, he cited the King Street streetscape improvements as one of the reasons for opening Walkers when he did.  He already owned the building and was using it for the headquarters for his SWM Contractors company.  The space was largely even built out as it would be when Walkers opened, which was always his goal for the space.  So while the city has done everything in its power to stop the momentum of the district, they did give it a little nudge that got the ball rolling.

PeeJayEss

February 07, 2013, 09:57:27 AM
One thing I would add is that while the area has changed so much for the better in a few years, I've noticed in the past year or so the clientele has shifted from more locally supported to more people driving in from the beaches and Southside.

Has anyone else noticed this shift?

King is definitely drawing a big crowd from outside the hood. Also R-A in general. Check out the rooftop of Black Sheep. It kinda means the area has arrive. Its not complete by any means (and nothing ever is), but it has arrived, as they say. Now all the hip people will move on to the next underachieving hood and revitalize it. If there were actually some buildings standing in Lavilla, it might be there. My guess is Murray Hill and even more people in Springfield. Maybe I'm dreaming.

TPC

February 07, 2013, 10:15:42 AM
Glad it wasn't just me noticing that. I'm all for the local businesses gaining a wider audience outside our neighborhood.

I really need to check out Sweet Theory.

Spit balling ideas. I would love to see some collaboration between all of establishments on King. How awesome would it be to see a Shaun Turston mural inside The Loft, a Sandwich at Kickbacks served on Sweet Theory bread or The Salty Fig creating a dish using Bold City beer?

PeeJayEss

February 07, 2013, 10:21:14 AM
Spit balling ideas. I would love to see some collaboration between all of establishments on King. How awesome would it be to see a Shaun Turston mural inside The Loft, a Sandwich at Kickbacks served on Sweet Theory bread or The Salty Fig creating a dish using Bold City beer?

That last one does happen. There are a couple places in the neighborhood that use Intuition and Bold City beers in their food. Salty Fig definitely has something I believe using Intuition. Pele's has a dessert that uses Intuition. Derby uses Intuition in their Fish and Chips (which are awesome). I can't think of specific examples with Bold City, but I believe they exist.

jcjohnpaint

February 07, 2013, 10:24:15 AM
such a delightful read. I did not even know about Beer 30. I am going to check them out this weekend. Thanks for this wonderful article.

Ocklawaha

February 07, 2013, 10:29:23 AM
Just imagine what STREETCAR would do for this area. With Billions invested along streetcar lines all across the nation a car line would make a huge development engine. Oh, but then along comes Richard Clark and the whole thing is in jeopardy.

Captain Zissou

February 07, 2013, 10:31:57 AM
Just imagine what STREETCAR would do for this area. With Billions invested along streetcar lines all across the nation a car line would make a huge development engine. Oh, but then along comes Richard Clark and the whole thing is in jeopardy.

RAP would probably try and tank any development that was spurred by streetcars.

stephendare

February 07, 2013, 10:49:16 AM
Thanks jcjohnpaint.  It was actually a lot of work!

also everyone, I notice that hardly anyone has any patience today!  The Sweet Theory Bakery has its own article running, a photo essay from the excellent blog: Somewhere in the City:  http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2013-feb-somewhere-in-the-city-sweet-theory-bakery-photos

stephendare

February 07, 2013, 10:53:42 AM
Also from Somewhere in the City another photo essay from King Street:  http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2013-feb-somewhere-in-the-city-viva-la-thrifty-on-king-street
Such a talented photographer!

viCARIous

February 07, 2013, 11:26:18 AM
Awesome article guys.

Wanted to let everyone know that the King Street Farmers Market is re-opening as an EVENING MARKET (!) on Wednesday, March 6th. New hours will be 4pm to 7pm every Wednesday in the empty lot at 1021 King Street.

We think the evening hours will draw more residents and office workers from the 'hood.

We're working on getting at least one food truck to commit to being there every week (Mike - help!) and already have firm commitments from eight great local food vendors.

I love our neighborhood.

tufsu1

February 07, 2013, 11:27:10 AM
A couple things to note....  You'd be hard pressed to find an import at Beer:30, as they stock only American made craft beers. 

Is that a recent change?  They used to have a who area devoted to imports....and I have bought various Eurpoean beers (and Israeli Goldstar once) before

Captain Zissou

February 07, 2013, 11:40:40 AM
A couple things to note....  You'd be hard pressed to find an import at Beer:30, as they stock only American made craft beers. 

Is that a recent change?  They used to have a who area devoted to imports....and I have bought various Eurpoean beers (and Israeli Goldstar once) before

When they opened they said their goal was to carry strictly American made beers, as Grassroots already carried many import brands.  They may have since changed, but I usually just go there for very specific beers, so I haven't really explored the store.

Josh

February 07, 2013, 11:43:24 AM
A couple things to note....  You'd be hard pressed to find an import at Beer:30, as they stock only American made craft beers. 

Is that a recent change?  They used to have a who area devoted to imports....and I have bought various Eurpoean beers (and Israeli Goldstar once) before

When they opened they said their goal was to carry strictly American made beers, as Grassroots already carried many import brands.  They may have since changed, but I usually just go there for very specific beers, so I haven't really explored the store.

Weird, they had imports there the first time I went, a week after opening.

funwithteeth

February 07, 2013, 11:51:16 AM
They do have a selection of imports (Belgians, for instance) at the back of the store. It's right where they keep the Budweisers, Millers, etc, so you cannot be blamed for overlooking them!

That said, it is a very small selection. Grassroots has them beat on imports, for sure.

peestandingup

February 07, 2013, 01:41:49 PM
Great article! But with the new format & these extra long articles with multiple pages, you REALLY need to put in an option of a "show all" for those who want everything on the same page. Clicking through 16 different pages is a bit much.

JeffreyS

February 07, 2013, 04:02:55 PM
Late night Lola's has provided a little competition on my Saturday night for Kickbacks. Beer 30 has proven to be a good addition. I love Bold City Brewery and enjoyed a Cork showing 2 weekends ago. Bath tub Gin at Rouge and Pizza at Carmine's are a few of my favorite things.  We walk back and forth a lot.

jerry cornwell

February 08, 2013, 12:22:30 AM
Just imagine what STREETCAR would do for this area. With Billions invested along streetcar lines all across the nation a car line would make a huge development engine. Oh, but then along comes Richard Clark and the whole thing is in jeopardy.
Truth.... throughout this depression, Riverside has progressed in a cultural way, an outstanding value for 20 somethings. Now is the time to take it to the level this urban neighborhood needs and deserves, fixed mass transit.

FSBA

February 08, 2013, 08:40:13 AM
Dahlia's has become my watering hole of choice, but really enjoy King St as a whole

BrooklynSouth

February 08, 2013, 08:57:21 AM
Wow, this is a great article! I love my neighborhood! If anyone is feeling both wise and texty today, you can contribute to the stub article on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Street_District

jaxeeyore

March 08, 2013, 02:33:35 PM
The King Street corridor is OK during the day and early evening, but the dynamic changes when the sun goes down.  The overly intoxicated, trashy crowd takes over during the later hours. Drug dealing and prostitution still take place in the vicinity, but it’s less noticeable because there are more people in the area overall. I’ve seen dealing and hooking occur inside some of the establishments myself. The shooting at Park Place Lounge in May 2012 is a good example of why I avoid this area after 6:00PMish.

PeeJayEss

March 08, 2013, 02:41:34 PM
The King Street corridor is OK during the day and early evening, but the dynamic changes when the sun goes down.  The overly intoxicated, trashy crowd takes over during the later hours. Drug dealing and prostitution still take place in the vicinity, but it’s less noticeable because there are more people in the area overall. I’ve seen dealing and hooking occur inside some of the establishments myself. The shooting at Park Place Lounge in May 2012 is a good example of why I avoid this area after 6:00PMish.

Troll brings topic back from the dead!
So you avoid the place after 6pm, but you've seen dealing AND hooking inside more than one of the establishments that you don't go to? First of all, who are you to judge my line of work? Second, what are you talking about?

Kickbackssteve

March 08, 2013, 03:06:28 PM
I've spent almost 100 hours a week for the past 350 weeks or so up and down King street (mostly at the north end) and haven't seen any hooking or drug dealing in the last 4-5 years. But, I suppose it's possible that you've noticed and I just haven't.

funwithteeth

March 08, 2013, 03:16:27 PM
No one should question jaxeeyore's knowledge on where to find drugs and hookers.

stephendare

March 08, 2013, 04:20:12 PM
The King Street corridor is OK during the day and early evening, but the dynamic changes when the sun goes down.  The overly intoxicated, trashy crowd takes over during the later hours. Drug dealing and prostitution still take place in the vicinity, but it’s less noticeable because there are more people in the area overall. I’ve seen dealing and hooking occur inside some of the establishments myself. The shooting at Park Place Lounge in May 2012 is a good example of why I avoid this area after 6:00PMish.

This seems a bit overstated.

One can still generally find more 'escorts' and drug dealers at the Town Center at night.

The only place I know of with less is Hedrick Street during the winter months.

ben says

March 08, 2013, 05:20:01 PM
The King Street corridor is OK during the day and early evening, but the dynamic changes when the sun goes down.  The overly intoxicated, trashy crowd takes over during the later hours. Drug dealing and prostitution still take place in the vicinity, but it’s less noticeable because there are more people in the area overall. I’ve seen dealing and hooking occur inside some of the establishments myself. The shooting at Park Place Lounge in May 2012 is a good example of why I avoid this area after 6:00PMish.

Very much disagree with this sentiment.

MusicMan

March 08, 2013, 05:59:49 PM
You gotta love it when a person says, "I avoid the area after 6:00 PM ish" then proceeds to tell you they know what is going on after 6:00PMish.

I live one block off King and, all things considered,  the area is pretty damn peaceful.

"Overly intoxicated, trashy crowd."  Where?? I wanna go!!
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