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Mayor Brown to Invest $9 Million in Downtown

Mayor Alvin Brown has created a plan to inject $11 million this year into both Downtown revitalization and job-creating economic improvements across Jacksonville. Joined by civic and business leaders Tuesday along the Northbank Riverwalk, Mayor Brown committed to investing $9 million in order to leverage private investment that will improve Downtown. An additional $2 million is slated for economic expansion throughout the city.

Published January 29, 2013 in News      95 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


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The investments, which are subject to City Council approval, result from a successful round of debt refinancing at the direction of the Brown Administration. The mayor announced the savings will be reinvested in projects with private-sector investment that invigorate Downtown and elevate the Jacksonville economy.
 
“This is a better chance than we have seen in many years to help increase the value of our urban core, our city’s heart and soul,” said the mayor. “I look forward to working with our City Council, the business community and all stakeholders to ensure that these investments pay dividends for many years to come.”
 
The savings provide an opportunity for Jacksonville to invest in its future without taking on additional debt, using reserves or impacting the city’s solid AA+ bond rating. The refinancing provides $11 million for the 2012-13 fiscal year with additional savings in future years, too.
 
“The mayor’s proposal should be a difference-maker in job creation and move our economy forward,” said Jerry Mallot, interim president of the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce. “This gives the new Downtown Investment Authority a tool to truly be effective because it will have the resources to significantly invigorate our Downtown.”
 
The $11 million would be managed with Council oversight by the new Downtown Investment Authority and Office of Economic Development, agencies created during the mayor’s restructuring of the city’s economic development arm.
 
Mayor Brown has made reinvigorating Downtown a strategic priority. His initiatives to restructure the city’s economic development activities and create the Downtown Investment Authority won strong approval from Council, the Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott. A recent survey of residents by the JAX2025 initiative to create a community vision for Jacksonville’s future found that their top issue is improving Downtown Jacksonville.
 
“After surveying 14,000 people about the most important issue facing Jacksonville, the top issue by a 2-to-1 margin was improving Downtown,” said Ben Warner, president and CEO of Jacksonville Community Council Inc., the organization spearheading the JAX2025 visioning study. “So we’re excited that we’ll be able to see results so quickly after asking people about their vision for Jacksonville.”
 
Reinvesting the savings would build on accomplishments by the Brown Administration in recent months that are revitalizing the Downtown area:
 
EverBank relocated 1,500 employees to the former AT&T Tower (now renamed EverBank Center).
 
Mayor Brown worked with the City Council to secure unanimous approval of a new Downtown Investment Authority (DIA) to focus on redevelopment in the urban core.
 

Financial Design Associates, a local branch of the 161-year-old Fortune 500 company Mass Mutual, has moved operations from the Southside to the BB&T Tower in Downtown Jacksonville with plans to double regional business.
 
In December 2012, the Mayor and City Council authorized nearly $10 million in incentives and $1.8 million in capital improvements to support up to $80 million in private investment to create 600 new homes along a stretch of Riverside Avenue in Downtown’s Brooklyn neighborhood.
 
The City has issued a request for proposals to revitalize, and potentially return to the tax rolls, a long-unused three-acre site of city-owned property in Downtown’s LaVilla neighborhood.

Source: Mayor's Office press release







95 Comments

CityLife

January 29, 2013, 10:32:57 AM
Very good news. Hats off to those who made this happen. Now get us a rock star DIA director and IMPLEMENT WITH URGENCY. That phrase should be the mantra of the Mayor's office over the next 2 years.

sheclown

January 29, 2013, 11:32:34 AM
That's why we voted for you Mr. Mayor!

duvaldude08

January 29, 2013, 11:49:29 AM
Brown sure pulled that Rabbit out of his ass! Thats why we voted for him. Hopefully the council doesnt screw it up.

JFman00

January 29, 2013, 11:57:33 AM
Fantastic. Great to see the city avoid the megaproject trap, and to finance this privately-led development in a responsible way.

Steve Ducharme

January 29, 2013, 12:00:51 PM
Sigh.. and now the council gets to put it's finger prints all over it.  How's that for a bucket of cold water...  Downtown need the help and I'm glad for it but this is the same council that gave us such grand ideas as the monstrosity of a courthouse.  I'll remain skeptically optimistic..

duvaldude08

January 29, 2013, 12:16:17 PM
Sigh.. and now the council gets to put it's finger prints all over it.  How's that for a bucket of cold water...  Downtown need the help and I'm glad for it but this is the same council that gave us such grand ideas as the monstrosity of a courthouse.  I'll remain skeptically optimistic..

Im not worried about that as far as the council goes. THe DIA will have say so in what to do with the money once they get it. Im just worried about the council saying "Thats too much money." And also, so the city council created the plans for the courthouse? Wow never knew that  ::)

peestandingup

January 29, 2013, 12:54:21 PM
Good news, but I'm not gonna go fapping my wang just yet. Let's wait & see actually HOW this money gets used.

urbaknight

January 29, 2013, 02:25:13 PM
Yeah, the very first sentence of the article has me concerned. I just hope and pray that they don't waste the money on any more land and/or streetscapes. Fix the damn buildings already!

Jason

January 29, 2013, 02:26:33 PM
Quote
The City has issued a request for proposals to revitalize, and potentially return to the tax rolls, a long-unused three-acre site of city-owned property in Downtown’s LaVilla neighborhood.

Anyone know what property is being referenced here?  Maybe the lot along Jefferson Station?

tufsu1

January 29, 2013, 02:29:17 PM
Sax Seafood site along Union Street

fsujax

January 29, 2013, 02:31:07 PM
I did notice City crews out and about around there today cleaning out the homeless camps and trimming up trees and brush in the area.

duvaldude08

January 29, 2013, 02:55:51 PM
Whatever the case, its good to see the mayor live up to his word about downtown. Let's just hope everyone works with him on this. (referring to the council, I know the DIA will).

thelakelander

January 29, 2013, 03:00:36 PM
Yeah, the very first sentence of the article has me concerned. I just hope and pray that they don't waste the money on any more land and/or streetscapes. Fix the damn buildings already!

It will be interesting to see what the cash eventually goes to.  With something like scale of the Laura Trio, all of the cash could be eaten by a project or two.  I do like that is will be leveraged with private dollars, meaning we can stretch it out a bit.

Cheshire Cat

January 29, 2013, 03:50:50 PM
From today's Times Union:
   
Using savings generated by refinancing the city's municipal bonds, Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown said Tuesday morning he will invest $11 million in economic development projects.

The bulk of that money is slated for the Downtown Investment Authority, which was created last year but had no money to spend. The other $2 million will go to citywide projects.

The disposition of the funding must be approved by the City Council.

Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2013-01-29/story/city-invest-9-million-downtown-economic-development#.UQfzPuiIdPE.facebook#ixzz2JOdpIocL


Here is the carrot, now what is the plan?

The first response to hearing about a potentially sizable investment in downtown would of course be greeted with some initial excitement by those who long for a better urban core.  I am one of those people. Knowing the Jacksonville political climate as well as I do I think we all need to take a minute to examine what we are seeing and what we can expect from this development.

First, I am not at all surprised by this announcement.  I hope everyone will pause to remember we are talking about Jacksonville politics at work here.  The Civic Council and Peter Rummell invested several hundred thousand dollars in the election of Alvin Brown.  If we are going to be honest with ourselves (and what we can expect to see happen with this funding) we have got to realize that the Civic Council members have gotten what they wanted in Alvin Brown, a new DIA authority and a great financial return on their investment if the nine million is spent the way they envision it.  At one level the Civic Council managed to garner a sizable amount of internal control in the mayors office but what of the rest of the council? The Civic Council are some of the same players we have had influencing our city for years and years so what has changed?  They played their hand well and used outside business sense to impact our city's future, but exactly what is the plan?  How will these funds be invested or spent and who exactly will they benefit?  What businesses and private investments will be enhanced by this and which ones won't?  Whose pockets will this money find it's way into?  Think a bit about how money in downtown was spent in past years.  How about that "round about" on Laura?  What about that "kewl" jazz restaurant and club for nearly two million that never opened?  What about the concrete monster weed patch for over $700,000 in front of the Main Library?  You all can list the other debacles and failures so before we get too excited over this, what is the plan and how can the average "unconnected" business person, investor or potential downtown resident hope to benefit?

Here are some serious considerations.  Some people will be asking why no one discussed refinancing our bonds when all the budget hub bub was going on?  Why now did someone finally decided to refinance? Why were mounting city debts not paid down?  What about the JSO and JFRD pensions?  This is not new money peeps but is in fact old debt being recycled.  Should some of this money be spent to reopen libraries?  What about our shabby infrastructure?  Why was the storm water fee money spent on regular city expenses and not or drainage?  So many questions and no answers, just a flurry of excitement and the mayors office telling Jacksonville what a pivotal moment this is for this administration.  The citizens and those interested in our urban core have got to watch this unfold carefully and have some input into how any funding downtown should best be used. 

It was stated that nine million is for downtown and two million for the rest of the community.  Hmmmm, okay, how many think some of the members on council will not cry foul and ask why the entire city gets 2 million and downtown gets nine? How about Ray Holt and that seven million pool?  What about flooded streets in other districts?  What about parking for the landing?  What about the landing? 

There is just so much to be considered by all of us who pay the taxes and the bills in this town.  We need more than a carrot, we need a well thought out funding plan. 



Ocklawaha

January 29, 2013, 03:53:31 PM
Amazing, they have had total and complete control over this dead downtown issue for years, whilst being in possession of of information about America's number one cure. 

S T R E E T C A R   N O W   J A C K S O N V I L L E !

Cheshire Cat

January 29, 2013, 04:12:39 PM
Somehow I don't think this is on their radar Bob, but you can bet certain projects are.  Now would be a good time for the TU to put some of their reporters to work and give us more than an announcement story from the mayor.  Let's find out who is already standing in line for some funding and how they propose to spend it.

tufsu1

January 29, 2013, 04:58:51 PM
here...I'll help you...Latitude 30 (the old library) and Laura St Trio...and perhaps a little property known as the Bostwick Building

Tacachale

January 29, 2013, 05:02:16 PM
^Good start.

Cheshire Cat

January 29, 2013, 05:15:35 PM
Those are ideas that have been discussed on this board and in other venue's before.  :)   The question right now is what does the DIA envision happening with this money and who is influencing those decisions?   I am sure some would love to see members of this board do some imagining about it and downtown's future, but what is needed is a good plan of investment and my question is, how can folks with opinions and ideas have any real input into what happens in the planning stages if they are not privy to the inner circles?  Laura Street has had other plans fail before and if we are talking Bostwick again one would have to ask, once restored what would the building be used for?  Retail, business etc.  The old library was purchased with great plans speculated for a downtown grocery etc and it all fell through.  What is the plan that will work for downtown and who gets to decide what that is?  If it is only the "money players" and "politically connected" we can expect some decisions to be made entirely upon how they will impact certain investments and most of those are private investments.  What investments will give downtown the greatest chance at success while making good financial sense to the citizens at large and how those investments impact their downtown experience?

sheclown

January 29, 2013, 05:16:56 PM
Those are ideas that have been discussed on this board and in other venue's before.  :)   The question right now is what does the DIA envision happening with this money and who is influencing those decisions?   I am sure some would love to see members of this board do some imagining about it and downtown's future, but what is needed is a good plan of investment and my question is, how can folks with opinions and ideas have any real input into what happens in the planning stages if they are not privy to the inner circles?  Laura Street has had other plans fail before and if we are talking Bostwick again one would have to ask, once restored what would the building be used for?  Retail, business etc. 

agreed.

Redbaron616

January 29, 2013, 06:50:51 PM
I always cringe when I read that government is "investing money." Government doesn't invest anything; they spend money. Call it what it is.  ::)

JeffreyS

January 29, 2013, 07:01:36 PM
I guess technically every investment is spending money. The city should be looking for ROI so in that sense it is investing.

buckethead

January 29, 2013, 07:10:08 PM
Quote
Mayor Brown to Invest $9 Million in Downtown

Does he have that kind of money to invest?

Cheshire Cat

January 29, 2013, 07:18:52 PM
I guess technically every investment is spending money. The city should be looking for ROI so in that sense it is investing.

They should indeed.  Very rarely however is the City's return on investment that great.  That is another story.  Look at how well the deal worked out for John Rood and Vestcore in their downtown building renovation!  Good for them, but how did it all work out for the city and downtown?  The promises of investors did not flesh out in the end when it came to stimulating activity and interest in downtown.  What was it called again, the Carlisle?


thelakelander

January 29, 2013, 07:44:01 PM
The Carling has something like 100 units.  100 units won't even support a 7-11. You'll need to incentivize thousands of new units if the goal is to truly stimulate economic activity in the Northbank or invest in mass transit to tie downtown with the rest of the existing urban core residential population base. 

I'd probably argue that if we're concerned about ROI, we'll need to implement a more aggressive incentive strategy than we've done in the past.  That probably means something as dramatic as a 10 year tax abatement program for everyone moving to or investing in a targeted area as opposed to going on a project by project basis.

Cheshire Cat

January 29, 2013, 07:50:47 PM
I believe we should be concerned about ROI.  I don't know if a lengthy tax abatement program would be the answer or not, but I think serious thought should be given to our investments at all levels.  I am not saying do not invest by any stretch of the imagination but am rather interested that what we do invest in is well thought and that the overall benefit to the city i.e. the citizens and taxpayers be worthwhile.  We have dumped millions and millions into ideas that were short sighted and non starters.  If we really want change, that change needs to come at all levels and through good planning and foresight.  In the past our investments in private endeavors have been horribly monitored.  I have researched more than my share over the years.  It is time for oversight that is meaningful when it comes to how we fund public and private investments in our city. 

Tacachale

January 29, 2013, 07:57:40 PM
I'd argue there needs to be less "monitoring" and red tape and more effective incentives to get the many people who want to invest downtown to act on it. The only problem with the Carling is that there aren't 10 or 20 more of them. However, that would likely be much more than $9 million dollars.

stephendare

January 29, 2013, 08:00:09 PM
I always cringe when I read that government is "investing money." Government doesn't invest anything; they spend money. Call it what it is.  ::)

this sounds dumb.

thelakelander

January 29, 2013, 08:07:14 PM
I believe we should be concerned about ROI.

I definitely think we should be primarily concerned about ROI.  I think if we did, I think a ton of our existing policies would change.  Reading the FTU responses on the story points out to me how blind we've become as a community. 

There, the majority are upset that $9 million is targeted for downtown instead of being spread to the rest of the community.  However, where was the uproar when Sleiman convinced council to waive mobility fees last year or when FDOT's Prasad waltzed in here determined to waste tax dollars funding the +$300 million Outer Beltway to from Blanding to I-10 on a chunk of roadway we already paid for? 

Because of our policies, we'll never end up on the positive when it comes to ROI on an investment like that.  Same goes for the billions invested in 9A, JTB, isolated overpasses spread out all over town.  I sat in a meeting yesterday where a guy mentioned all the infrastructure to SJTC was privately funded.  Maybe Town Center Parkway but none of that happens without the decades and billions of taxpayer dollars invested in the Southside Blvds, JTBs, 9A's, Kernans, etc.

It appears most Jaxson's find it appealing to speed on roadway infrastructure completely overbuilt for a city our size (do we really need a 9B?), despite the fact that the burden on the taxpayer is something that will eventually bankrupt us.

Btw, Cheshire Cat, it's the New Year.  I need to take you out for a cup of coffee.

Bill Hoff

January 29, 2013, 08:11:29 PM
However, that would likely be much more than $9 million dollars.

Leverage is the name of the game. Turn $9 mill into $18 million, or more.

Cheshire Cat

January 29, 2013, 08:18:16 PM
Tacachale, You are right about the red tape and the overall functioning of the processes in this city that surround investment and expenditures.  ROI however is something that we need to pursue in order to stop doing what we have done in the past and throw good money after bad without seeing the promised "sunrise" for downtown or the city when we do.

Ennis, I would enjoy a coffee on Valentines day.  I never pass up spending time with a bright and handsome young man.  lol 

thelakelander

January 29, 2013, 08:20:39 PM
Valentines Day it is.

tufsu1

January 29, 2013, 09:53:35 PM
^ big spender

Ocklawaha

January 29, 2013, 10:43:47 PM
Freeway miles per 1,000 Cities with the most freeway miles.

1. Kansas City – 1.262
2. St Louis – 1.070
3. Houston – .822
4. Cleveland – .816
5. Columbus – .779
6. San Antonio – .759
7. Jacksonville – .745

Least walkable American cities.

Top 10 Least Walkable U.S. Cities

1. Jacksonville
2. Nashville
3. Charlotte
4. Indianapolis
5. Oklahoma City
6. Memphis
7. Kansas City

It's OBVIOUS, we need more roads.

Garden guy

January 30, 2013, 08:21:52 AM
Maybe we could use the money to buy FBC and then maybe and we would get our city back..lol..ah the dreams a modern city...but itll never happen with FBC and its brainwashersbrainwashers

PeeJayEss

January 30, 2013, 08:32:07 AM
Maybe we could use the money to buy FBC and then maybe and we would get our city back..lol..ah the dreams a modern city...but itll never happen with FBC and its brainwashersbrainwashers

<yawn>

fsujax

January 30, 2013, 09:00:57 AM
Maybe we could use the money to buy FBC and then maybe and we would get our city back..lol..ah the dreams a modern city...but itll never happen with FBC and its brainwashersbrainwashers


you and ubben should start your own church, the blame, hate FBC congregation. It seems that's all you two ever post about.

duvaldude08

January 30, 2013, 09:33:53 AM
Maybe we could use the money to buy FBC and then maybe and we would get our city back..lol..ah the dreams a modern city...but itll never happen with FBC and its brainwashersbrainwashers

OMG. WHAT does that have to do with anything. Dude your a psyco

Captain Zissou

January 30, 2013, 09:46:46 AM
Maybe we could use the money to buy FBC and then maybe and we would get our city back..lol..ah the dreams a modern city...but itll never happen with FBC and its brainwashersbrainwashers

That is largely moronic, but FBC will have to play ball for those blocks of DT to see life. 

Mack Brunson seems to be a decent and intelligent man.  He also claims to be best friends with the pastor from the Potter's House.  The Potter's House transformed their neighborhood by taking a blighted mall and turning it into an area of activity and entertainment for their congregation and the community at large.  Everyone here has probably eaten at Soul Food Bistro and everyone probably loved it.  I think that Mack could be made to see the light in terms of embracing downtown rather than fortifying themselves against it.  I would be interested in helping to get a private audience with him to see if he could be persuaded to develop part of their property to address the street and provide something for the downtown public.

thelakelander

January 30, 2013, 09:54:38 AM
^Definitely agree.  We should be looking for ways to better integrate FBC into downtown as Potter's House has done with Normandy.

tufsu1

January 30, 2013, 10:29:56 AM
here...I'll help you...Latitude 30 (the old library) and Laura St Trio...and perhaps a little property known as the Bostwick Building

forgot one...some interesting foundation issues have crept up as part of the Chamber building renovations....perhaps they could use some additional $

bill

January 30, 2013, 10:45:40 AM
I always cringe when I read that government is "investing money." Government doesn't invest anything; they spend money. Call it what it is.  ::)

Correct-they spend other peoples money

stephendare

January 30, 2013, 10:48:57 AM
I always cringe when I read that government is "investing money." Government doesn't invest anything; they spend money. Call it what it is.  ::)

Correct-they spend other peoples money

More correctly, we spend the money that we decide to tax ourselves, on projects that we feel are worth funding.

If you don't think that government spending is an investment in the economy, try running your business without the public roads.

bill

January 30, 2013, 11:01:16 AM
I always cringe when I read that government is "investing money." Government doesn't invest anything; they spend money. Call it what it is.  ::)

Correct-they spend other peoples money

More correctly, we spend the money that we decide to tax ourselves, on projects that we feel are worth funding.

If you don't think that government spending is an investment in the economy, try running your business without the public roads.

More correctly, 50% of the people, that do not pay taxes decide where the the government "invests" my income. Usually in their own pocket

tufsu1

January 30, 2013, 11:03:59 AM
I always cringe when I read that government is "investing money." Government doesn't invest anything; they spend money. Call it what it is.  ::)

Correct-they spend other peoples money

More correctly, we spend the money that we decide to tax ourselves, on projects that we feel are worth funding.

If you don't think that government spending is an investment in the economy, try running your business without the public roads.

More correctly, 50% of the people, that do not pay taxes decide where the the government "invests" my income. Usually in their own pocket

nice line...but wrong!

that's 47% of the country that doesn't pay FEDERAL income taxes because their INCOME is too low....but just about everyone pays taxes (be it social security/medicare, gas taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, etc.)

and since we'tre talking about Duval County spending here, the gas tax, sales tax, and property tax apply...as well as taxes on utilities.

stephendare

January 30, 2013, 11:21:14 AM
I always cringe when I read that government is "investing money." Government doesn't invest anything; they spend money. Call it what it is.  ::)

Correct-they spend other peoples money

More correctly, we spend the money that we decide to tax ourselves, on projects that we feel are worth funding.

If you don't think that government spending is an investment in the economy, try running your business without the public roads.

More correctly, 50% of the people, that do not pay taxes decide where the the government "invests" my income. Usually in their own pocket

what a bizarre and completely dishonest statement.  Are you under the impression that children under the age of 16 and senior citizens who have paid their forty years of income taxes and are now retired are either investing your money or making decisions about your income?

Just to be accurate, it turns out that neither the state of Florida nor the City of Jacksonville, not the County of Duval has an Income Tax.

Our public monies come from Land Tax, Sales Taxes, and various fees.

Is there some law, Bill, that you know about that excludes 50% of the people from having to pay any of these?

Im pretty sure that even senior citizens have to still pay sales tax, for example.  And if a 7 year old child owns a house in boca, then their trust manager still has to pay real estate taxes.

What on earth are you talking about?

You should move to alaska my friend.  They have milliions of unimproved, untaxed acres of land just waiting for guys like you to get out and rough it like the rugged anti tax titan that you apparently imagine yourself.

bill

January 30, 2013, 11:39:10 AM
I always cringe when I read that government is "investing money." Government doesn't invest anything; they spend money. Call it what it is.  ::)

Correct-they spend other peoples money

More correctly, we spend the money that we decide to tax ourselves, on projects that we feel are worth funding.

If you don't think that government spending is an investment in the economy, try running your business without the public roads.

More correctly, 50% of the people, that do not pay taxes decide where the the government "invests" my income. Usually in their own pocket

what a bizarre and completely dishonest statement.  Are you under the impression that children under the age of 16 and senior citizens who have paid their forty years of income taxes and are now retired are either investing your money or making decisions about your income?

You should move to alaska my friend.  They have milliions of unimproved, untaxed acres of land just waiting for guys like you to get out and rough it like the rugged anti tax titan that you apparently imagine yourself.

Darelys argument handbook. When you have a indefensible narrative

Step 1-pick strawmen

See children and senior citizens

FSBA

January 30, 2013, 11:41:29 AM
Since the city tore down the Gator Bowl to make way for the Jaguars, the city has spent well over $1 billion on projects that have had "Revitalizing Downtown" as either a primary or secondary purpose. What has that gotten us? Mostly half baked ideas that results in lining the pockets of the politically connected and continued urban blight.

Pardon my cynicism and expectation this will go the way of the JEDC.

stephendare

January 30, 2013, 11:43:11 AM
Bill, certainly they do more than just iron the sheets at the places you hang out.

Dont they ever look up from the laundry and talk about 'facts'?

Maybe you could share a few that show how all these leeches you are surrounded by are stealing your hard earned money from you and spending it on projects that you never use.

Take your time.

JeffreyS

January 30, 2013, 11:44:32 AM
Since the city tore down the Gator Bowl to make way for the Jaguars, the city has spent well over $1 billion on projects that have had "Revitalizing Downtown" as either a primary or secondary purpose. What has that gotten us? Mostly half baked ideas that results in lining the pockets of the politically connected and continued urban blight.

Pardon my cynicism and expectation this will go the way of the JEDC.

 Or it has gotten us a growing Urban core that contributes more to the QOL in the area and to the tax base.

PeeJayEss

January 30, 2013, 11:47:31 AM
Darelys argument handbook. When you have a indefensible narrative

Step 1-pick strawmen

See children and senior citizens

Of course, this does not address tufsu's response, which roundly, accurately, and tactfully rejected your asinine post.

bill

January 30, 2013, 11:51:48 AM
Bill, certainly they do more than just iron the sheets at the places you hang out.

Dont they ever look up from the laundry and talk about 'facts'?

Maybe you could share a few that show how all these leeches you are surrounded by are stealing your hard earned money from you and spending it on projects that you never use.

Take your time.

Step 2-when you have no argument to stand on but it just "feels" right.

Attempt to belittle and insult because you are the smartest guy in the room.

stephendare

January 30, 2013, 11:53:18 AM
take your time, bill. ;)

Mathew1056

January 30, 2013, 03:36:19 PM
I would like to see the success of Laura Street expanded to Hogan or Julia Street. Reverting these roads back to two-way traffic will slows vehicles, increase safety, and reduce noise. The reconstruction of Laura street made it conducive to the type of urban development we want to see downtown. Doing this to Hogan and Julia would have little consequence to vehicle traffic. Neither street extends past the bounds of downtown, they are not part of any couplet system, and each carries only light traffic. I can't image this costing too much. Just leave out the multicolored lights and landscaping. Change around the stoplights and paint the line then get out of there.

kreger

January 30, 2013, 07:20:00 PM
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/_cCvDPQCdlE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

thelakelander

February 01, 2013, 08:34:23 AM
I know Mallot may mean well but spending the $9 million or even a portion to demolish the old courthouse for a temporary greenspace would be a huge waste of money and lost opportunity, imo.  I'd rather see a vacant properly mothballed structure and the cash help push a variety of "low hanging fruit" projects forward.

Quote
The mayor declined to identify or prioritize specific Downtown projects that could benefit from the $9 million.
“The caution of mentioning specific projects is that you sort of take away the opportunity for the DIA to get in there,” Mallot said. “I think it’s better to say that there are four or five different project opportunities out there, and they need to be evaluated. The top priority may not be the first thing done if the timing isn’t right.

“I’d say there’s probably five or six that make sense. They include of course the [Laura Street] Trio, the [Hayden Burns] library, and the Jaguar [Bostwick] Building, as I like to call it. I would tell you that tearing down the old courthouse is a priority before it becomes an eyesore. Put it into a green space and prepare it for the potential of a convention center, and next would be the city hall [annex]. These are projects that need to get done, that I know the mayor tried to get done in his budget. But the order and priority, I think have to be determined in sync with the DIA but also in sync with private investment that’s prepared to move forward.”

full article: http://www.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/news/2013/01/29/downtown-jacksonville-will-have-real.html

Tacachale

February 01, 2013, 09:56:15 AM
^Yeah, that's the least of our problems when we still have the Trio and the Hayden Burns to worry about. No way should they blow this $9 million bucks on that.

thelakelander

February 01, 2013, 11:40:09 AM
Some more information that may come into play for downtown over the next year...

Quote
Brown to stump for private investment: DIA to handle public funds

....As reported, Peter Rummell, immediate past chair of the Jacksonville Civic Council, said Tuesday evening some Jacksonville business leaders want to examine creating a private investment group that could pool funds to assist Downtown development and other efforts.

"The focus would be Downtown, but I wouldn't rule out something smart outside the core," Rummell told Daily Record Managing Editor Karen Mathis.

In a May 2012 meeting with members of the Urban Land Institute North Florida chapter, Brown discussed an idea to pitch the top 100 local successful "seasoned investors" to pool their money for a public-private partnership for three or four major projects. He didn't specify Downtown or any area.

He suggested $2 million each, which would create $200 million in private investment.

When asked Wednesday if there was a private group ready to step up, Brown was noncommittal.

"Everybody knows the players around here, it's not secret," he said.

He said has "planted the seed" for the business community to become involved.

full article: http://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/showstory.php?Story_id=538659

Cheshire Cat

March 06, 2013, 12:48:05 PM
Update on funds for Downtown.

Quote
The Daily Record:

Brown announced in January that he wanted to allocate $11 million in funds to Downtown and Duval County development. The funds came from savings in refinancing the City's more than $1 billion in bonds.

Next year, an additional $9 million is scheduled to be available from the refinanced savings, with the returns diminishing in subsequent years.

During the Finance Committee meeting, several Council members said they wanted to see more of a plan from the authority before the money was turned over.

The plan would focus on the authority's priorities and mission but does not need to include specific projects.

"I would like the plan, the priorities, not what might be," said Finance Committee member Stephen Joost. "My sense of it is the committee is open-minded, we just want to know what it is.

http://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/showstory.php?Story_id=538912

simms3

March 06, 2013, 03:12:42 PM
If I were in charge of or had enough money to throw ~$2MM to a closed-end fund that "bought" assets in Jacksonville, I would not pick downtown as a place for investment.

As much of a proponent for downtown as I am, I know damn well that my money is but merely venture capital if thrown at downtown at this point (plus VC pooled funds are raised the same way and are about the same size and make like 100 investments, not just a few, most VC investors are individuals who form 2-5 person partnerships and don't form pooled funds).  As a "Limited Partner" I would be embarassed to tell you the returns I would need for such an investment.  Of course the whole theory of VC is that you throw money at a ton of varied risk, some panning out, some not...all at asset liquidation 1-3 years later, which is simply not a time frame acceptable for a "downtown" illiquid investment.  The other thing about VC is that these high risk investors all live in basically 5 cities in this country, and they make 10 investments at a time (or hundreds if they do managed pooled-funds), hoping that 1 pans out so it can cover for the sunken capital in the other 9 and provide that huge return.  There aren't such investors in Jacksonville, certainly not 100.

The next step up is the opportunistic investor looking for someone to add value to an asset over short term life...3-5 year horizon, IRR driven with all or bulk of return coming from liquidation, etc.  I'm sure there are plenty of these guys in Jax, but will they consider downtown an opportunistic play or an angel/seed/venture investment?

I mean you really have to wonder at this point why there haven't been any private sector saviors in DT Jax yet.  Many cities' or neighborhood rebirths came from an initial dose of high-risk private investment (we've seen it on King St in Jax!).  In Downtown Jacksonville, the other element present is that each one of the city's own investments actually makes downtown either worse or stagnant at best.  You have the added risk that public investment will deteriorate your private investment.  That must be the reason why nobody has entered DT yet (unless they receive the heftiest tax abatements and historic credits I have ever seen).

My own company raised two closed end opportunity funds at the height of the market, forcing us to deploy the equity at the worst possible time ('08-'10).  We did land deals, development deals in small cities in the South, we did all sorts of things.  We still didn't even look at Jacksonville...let alone DT Jax.

thelakelander

March 06, 2013, 03:20:02 PM
Quote
I mean you really have to wonder at this point why there haven't been any private sector saviors in DT Jax yet.

Cameron Kuhn was the last private sector "savior".  His brief downtown real estate acquisition boom ended with him filing for bankruptcy when the real estate market went south a few years back.

Cheshire Cat

March 06, 2013, 03:24:25 PM
Perhaps we should not be looking for a single "Downtown Savior".  Time to travel a different road to success perhaps.

Tacachale

March 06, 2013, 03:58:28 PM
In the 10 years before the collapse there was plenty of residential downtown, ending with Cameron Kuhn. These were largely helped along by incentives to level the playing field for downtown versus suburban greenfield development. The momentum was halted because Mayor Peyton didn't prioritize downtown development and then, of course, the downturn killed most of the rest of it, including the Kuhn projects.

One major reason we've struggled with residential on the Northbank in particular is because there was never a lot of residential there in the first place. Adding any requires either building from scratch (Berkman, the Southbank towers, etc.) or doing an expensive adaptation of a formerly non-residential building (11E, the Carling, Churchwell Lofts and others), just to get the population to a viable level. This is happening now, but slowly; going any faster will require the city making it a real priority again.

thelakelander

March 06, 2013, 04:02:14 PM
Quote
One major reason we've struggled with residential on the Northbank in particular is because there was never a lot of residential there in the first place.

Pretty much.  The Northbank has been primarily commercial and retail for nearly a century.  Neighborhoods like LaVilla, Brooklyn, Sugar Hill, Springfield, etc. were areas of dense residential concentration that was within walking distance of the Northbank. Here's a decent early 20th century aerial illustrating that old school density that we equate with cities like New Orleans, Savannah, and Charleston today:

Cheshire Cat

March 11, 2013, 02:16:57 PM
Let's talk about the politics behind this money for downtown in an effort to decide where and how the 9 million for downtown should be spent for the impact to the core to be a lasting one and not just "piggy bank" money for certain developers or influential people.  We cannot afford to throw good money after bad into downtown.

For instance, below we have a letter sent to TU by a well known developer and member of the Civic Council (formerly known as the "Nifty Fifty") in support of the 9 million for downtown.  As is often the case with some of these "well known" individuals, their correspondence and views of a Jacksonville issue will generally get published.  That is not the case for most citizens.  The support for downtown from this individual is not a surprise.

So why visit politics in this instance some may ask?  Take the money and run others may feel.  While I understand the desire for downtown improvements and in fact do support funding to improve the core it is important to know the politics behind the funding to insure that the dollars are spent in an equitable and reasonable fashion.  What should concern citizens is the 9 million for downtown has been presented without a plan. No Plan!  Just a huge chunk of money waiting to be divided up and spent.  But how, to what end for what projects?  The people and taxpayers should be asking this question.

For instance, many are now realizing that the support Alvin Brown received from some Republican movers and shakers during his run for office had little to do with non partisan politics and everything to do with directing funding to downtown. This is where one can find the interests of many of these self same "movers and shakers" who are looking for a financial boost to bolster their visions and investments in the core.  Alvin received his marching orders and he delivered to those who helped put him in office by coming up with 11 million dollars, 9 for downtown.  This after a knock down drag out fight over a failing city budget attacking pensions, library closings, turning off of streetlights, mowing issues and the like.  Many average citizens will look at this and wonder.  The movers and shakers who know how politics work will see the funds as what they are, "return on investment."  In this situation the investment was the hundreds of thousands of dollars pumped into Brown's election.  This is how the game of politics works and it should be an ever present reality in the minds of individuals who fight for a better Jacksonville and better downtown, who are without the influence but often superior in planning, creative visioning and experience. 

Currently the DIA has put out some "test" statements about where they want this money to go.  That apparently is "Laura Street".  My question to all who read this and especially to those who have done extensive research into downtown planning, transport and the like is "Where should this money go to have the most impact and stimulate downtown?"  Is Laura Street the place or somewhere else in the core?  The citizens should have a good deal of input into this effort as the money is our tax dollars.

http://jacksonville.com/opinion/blog/406107/mike-clark/2013-03-11/civic-council-supports-funding-downtown

simms3

March 11, 2013, 05:01:46 PM
Good points Diane.  I would rather the city not spend $9MM if it's not going to do it right.  Wish Mr. Halverson provided more opinion on where that money should go instead of the usual Civic Council drumline that "All great cities have great downtowns".

Who knows where the money should go, but apparently city leaders in Nashville and Charlotte know precisely how to incentivize development.  Those trips to Indy and KC were a waste..much cheaper trips to closer cities who used to be the same exact size and in the same boat would have sufficed.

kreger

March 11, 2013, 05:39:21 PM
@ Diane, is there any chance that you will be running for city office in 2015? I don't really know you, but I'm always very impressed with what you have to say. My quick Google search suggested that you had ran in the past and I'm curious if you would consider doing so again.

stephendare

March 11, 2013, 05:50:37 PM
@ Diane, is there any chance that you will be running for city office in 2015? I don't really know you, but I'm always very impressed with what you have to say. My quick Google search suggested that you had ran in the past and I'm curious if you would consider doing so again.

I certainly hope so.  She would make a great addition to the Council.

Cheshire Cat

March 11, 2013, 05:53:44 PM
Well it would be a run against Jim Love.  lol   The truth is it would depend upon my health which has been problematic as of late and why you don't see me out and about more.  Thank you kindly for the words of support.  :)

Cheshire Cat

March 11, 2013, 06:15:41 PM
Good points Diane.  I would rather the city not spend $9MM if it's not going to do it right.  Wish Mr. Halverson provided more opinion on where that money should go instead of the usual Civic Council drumline that "All great cities have great downtowns".

Who knows where the money should go, but apparently city leaders in Nashville and Charlotte know precisely how to incentivize development.  Those trips to Indy and KC were a waste..much cheaper trips to closer cities who used to be the same exact size and in the same boat would have sufficed.

Exactly Simms.  There was a time in the history of this city that "sound bites" about growth etc were enough.  That is rapidly changing.  The general public has had enough of waste and promises.  That does not mean they are against growth or change.  What it does mean is they want sensible and meaningful growth with viable plans of action that back up promises with facts.  A new day for Jacksonville is dawning in this regard.

Tacachale

March 11, 2013, 07:02:19 PM
Diane, that's a far too cynical take. Of course we need to see some planning regarding how this money is used and we can't just throw money into half-baked projects. But the fact that some "influential people" or "movers and shakers" desire or benefit from downtown investments should be the absolute least of our concerns. There's no reason to assume that because private interests stand to benefit from an investment in the core that the money is wasted, far from it. In fact, it's a hugely positive step over years past that so many private interests recognize the benefit of developing downtown. Our concern here should be ensuring the money is put towards beneficial uses, and that's done through planning and education, not keeping it away from the very people committed to downtown's growth.

Cheshire Cat

March 11, 2013, 07:17:24 PM
Cynicism doesn't figure into my statement or emotional mindset in this post Tacachale. :)  Experience in this community, as well as the quirky realities of local politics does. My past experiences as a city official in South Florida and co-owner of two large building developmental enterprises back in the day also have a lot to do with what I know happens in backrooms in various communities throughout our state.   It happens everywhere, but whether you realize it or not, Jacksonville has often served as a "piggy bank" for those who know how politics and city finances work.  We no longer have the luxury of simply hoping that funds are spent for good works downtown, we need to make sure that they are.  At no point did I venture to say that the money should be kept from anyone in particular but that expenditures should be well thought through as well as some attention paid to who get's our tax money invested in their efforts. I will however say that even nice guys and gals will work a system given the chance.

I am guessing that you know many of the people in this community who are considered the "movers and shakers" through your father and his relationships.  The truth of powerful people and politics is that different faces are shown to different people. You likely have yet to go head to head with any of them over an issue and likely never will.  Until that happens, you may not see the value of knowing the who's and why's behind certain endeavors and why some things seem one way on the surface and are something else underneath. 

I am in no way suggesting that all the folks who are interested in the core are not sincere. I am saying that some are sincerely looking after their own interests. lol   I am neither suggesting that all moneys spent there have been wasted, but great amounts of it have not show us value. "Hello Shipyards!" The truth of the matter remains that millions upon millions have been expended downtown and the core still struggles.  Perhaps you misunderstood what I meant by weighing in on how the 9 million is spent downtown.  I am simply saying that a serious look needs to be taken about what should go where downtown to get the most bang for the buck and open up the playing field for others who may have an interest in downtown as well as the well known local players.

Now, my question above was to inquire how forum members and others may think funding for downtown would best be utilized?  Laura Street as the DIA is suggesting or something else?  Which prompts me to mention the 3 million round-about at the Landing.  Tac, was that money well spent in your estimation?  I think not and don't see how it added to Laura Street appeal unless the bumpy ride is to be considered entertainment. :) 

thelakelander

March 11, 2013, 10:07:29 PM
Quote
Now, my question above was to inquire how forum members and others may think funding for downtown would best be utilized?

This is a good question.  Right off the bat, I think most assumed leverage this money to help private projects get off the ground.  However, another view is to invest it within the public realm in a manner that attracts private dollars.  For example, do you invest in fixing Hemming Plaza (public realm), opening the Landing's courtyard to Laura Street (public/private) or putting it into the Laura Trio (private)?  All options have their good points.

Tacachale

March 11, 2013, 10:20:48 PM
The dangers of assuming too much about other people become apparent when you start guessing that I have any kind of connections or influence whatsoever. If you poll anyone who isn't my wife and dog, and perhaps the Underbelly bar staff, you'll see just how mistaken that is.

Seriously though, what I'm saying is that a beneficial project is a beneficial project, and a bad project is a bad project; the fact that private interests may be behind it is behind it is irrelevant. You're implying that if some "mover and shaker" stands to benefit from a project (or supports it) then it's necessarily a bad deal for the city. Yes, that's cynical, and I don't buy it. Honestly, it's much more frequently been the case that money is wasted due to half-baked planning than some conspiracy. For instance, I don't know what nefarious brick mogul you think benefited from the Laura roundabout, but the real reason it was a waste is because it was a dumb idea from the drafting table. On the other hand, in the same project, the Laura facade grants were a great project, and that did nothing but benefit businesses and property owners - and thereby the whole street.

Tacachale

March 11, 2013, 10:26:06 PM
Quote
Now, my question above was to inquire how forum members and others may think funding for downtown would best be utilized?

This is a good question.  Right off the bat, I think most assumed leverage this money to help private projects get off the ground.  However, another view is to invest it within the public realm in a manner that attracts private dollars.  For example, do you invest in fixing Hemming Plaza (public realm), opening the Landing's courtyard to Laura Street (public/private) or putting it into the Laura Trio (private)?  All options have their good points.

If it were up to me I'd put it towards the Trio, if it would really make a difference. I'd also like to see some new residential - and that damn clock to come back. I don't know about the Landing.

simms3

March 11, 2013, 10:51:53 PM
@ Lake

^^^Yes, all good places the city can pump money.  2 quandaries, though:

1) The city has proven itself to be inept at handling money, investing money, partnering, or generally just doing its own homework

2) The private sector has an even worse track record in Jacksonville.  I do not have faith that the "Civic Council" will make a meaningful difference here.

So then what do we do?  Honestly...until someone playing in this arena (i.e. Civic Council, local developer, city leader) speaks up and proves they have a brain and will be a good steward of public trust and will ensure the money is funneled to a plan or project they have provided input on, one that actually sounds reasonable and fitting to the market (and one that has also been tried and tested and proven elsewhere under similar circumstances), I will not wish the city to spend another dime.

There's an asset I work on that we paid too much for and are pumping even more money into.  It is my argument that we should do nothing and ride the known and stable in-place revenue streams without worrying about spending a fortune for an incremental pop.  The city should look at using the same strategy (something it hasn't ever tried).

The city should maybe quit worrying about micro-managing downtown development, and instead focus on the big picture items such as schools, safety, and economic growth (solid economic growth, something the city has yet to learn how to foster).  There is nothing better for a Central Business District than solid business, which has bled out of downtown for decades now.

The Civic Council has been around for 2 years officially, and many more years unofficially or under separate name before that.  Someone remind me something tangible that has come about through this group.

spuwho

March 11, 2013, 10:57:35 PM
Here is a novel approach....

Do a few things really well instead of trying to do everything at once in a mediocre way.

Everyone is looking for the silver bullet, how about just doing one thing with exception?

stephendare

March 11, 2013, 11:35:14 PM
@ Lake

^^^Yes, all good places the city can pump money.  2 quandaries, though:

1) The city has proven itself to be inept at handling money, investing money, partnering, or generally just doing its own homework

2) The private sector has an even worse track record in Jacksonville.  I do not have faith that the "Civic Council" will make a meaningful difference here.

So then what do we do?  Honestly...until someone playing in this arena (i.e. Civic Council, local developer, city leader) speaks up and proves they have a brain and will be a good steward of public trust and will ensure the money is funneled to a plan or project they have provided input on, one that actually sounds reasonable and fitting to the market (and one that has also been tried and tested and proven elsewhere under similar circumstances), I will not wish the city to spend another dime.

There's an asset I work on that we paid too much for and are pumping even more money into.  It is my argument that we should do nothing and ride the known and stable in-place revenue streams without worrying about spending a fortune for an incremental pop.  The city should look at using the same strategy (something it hasn't ever tried).

The city should maybe quit worrying about micro-managing downtown development, and instead focus on the big picture items such as schools, safety, and economic growth (solid economic growth, something the city has yet to learn how to foster).  There is nothing better for a Central Business District than solid business, which has bled out of downtown for decades now.

The Civic Council has been around for 2 years officially, and many more years unofficially or under separate name before that.  Someone remind me something tangible that has come about through this group.

letterhead.

Cheshire Cat

March 12, 2013, 12:44:24 AM

Seriously though, what I'm saying is that a beneficial project is a beneficial project, and a bad project is a bad project; the fact that private interests may be behind it is behind it is irrelevant. You're implying that if some "mover and shaker" stands to benefit from a project (or supports it) then it's necessarily a bad deal for the city. Yes, that's cynical, and I don't buy it. Honestly, it's much more frequently been the case that money is wasted due to half-baked planning than some conspiracy. For instance, I don't know what nefarious brick mogul you think benefited from the Laura roundabout, but the real reason it was a waste is because it was a dumb idea from the drafting table. On the other hand, in the same project, the Laura facade grants were a great project, and that did nothing but benefit businesses and property owners - and thereby the whole street.

You are incorrect on all counts Tacachale, but that is okay.  I can tell you if I have something to say, I won't imply it, but will come right out and state it.  lol  The whole of my previous posts was simply to point out to everyone that in order to accomplish goals and understand much of what goes on in this city and development you have to understand the politics, power players and lobbyists.  Beginning and end of that story. 

Ennis, I would agree with your overall statement in that there are a number of ways to invest the funds depending upon the projected outcome and what people may think will create the most interest downtown.  If we talk the trio, how much money would be needed to do what in those buildings?  Will 9 million come close to making those projects doable and will the impact downtown be that great?  I honestly don't know right now and am intrigued by the possibilities of improvements to public spaces as well.

stephendare

March 12, 2013, 12:49:13 AM

Seriously though, what I'm saying is that a beneficial project is a beneficial project, and a bad project is a bad project; the fact that private interests may be behind it is behind it is irrelevant. You're implying that if some "mover and shaker" stands to benefit from a project (or supports it) then it's necessarily a bad deal for the city. Yes, that's cynical, and I don't buy it. Honestly, it's much more frequently been the case that money is wasted due to half-baked planning than some conspiracy. For instance, I don't know what nefarious brick mogul you think benefited from the Laura roundabout, but the real reason it was a waste is because it was a dumb idea from the drafting table. On the other hand, in the same project, the Laura facade grants were a great project, and that did nothing but benefit businesses and property owners - and thereby the whole street.

You are incorrect on all counts Tacachale, but that is okay.  I can tell you if I have something to say, I won't imply it, but will come right out and state it.  lol  The whole of my previous posts was simply to point out to everyone that in order to accomplish goals and understand much of what goes on in this city and development you have to understand the politics, power players and lobbyists.  Beginning and end of that story.

I think this is unrealistic to the point of being unworkable, diane.

Public projects are going to benefit someone.

There isnt a god robot we can hire to do the job ----any job---without stain or blemish or private gain.

Perhaps one day there will be, but for the previous 6 thousand years this hasnt ever happened.

Cheshire Cat

March 12, 2013, 01:00:01 AM
Not sure I fully understand your comment Stephen, but it is late.

I certainly am not claiming that those working on any project for downtown be without blemish and that is not at all what I am suggesting, that is simply unrealistic.  It isn't unrealistic in my view to be aware of the hows and whys that are behind some deals just so that one can make good decisions for the entire community.  Goodness gracious I sometimes fail to realize how a commentary can head off in an unintended direction.  lol  I am certainly also not against people benefiting from public projects and don't remember claiming that I was.  In fact someone benefiting is part and parcel with development of any kind, everyone gets that I do believe.  My point is, have a plan, know the plan and lets make sure that the plan is the best one for downtown. My previous posts were to shine a light on politics and downtown in order to predicate the query as to what the folks on this forum and in the general public may think would have the most impact on downtown? Is it what the DIA want's or something else altogether.  We can set the discussion about motive for anyone's involvement aside at this point, because that is not germane to the fact that the money will be spent in the end.  It is reasonable to question what the millions are spent on downtown and how those projects may or may not be of the most benefit to the core, when so much money has already been spent without the desired revitalization taking place.  I would imagine this would be of some concern for those who want a vibrant downtown and more money invested after time.  The best way to get more money into the core is to show what is spent there is spent creatively and with good insight and planning, in my opinion. :)

stephendare

March 12, 2013, 01:07:29 AM
Not sure I fully understand your comment Stephen, but it is late.

I certainly am not claiming that those working on any project for downtown be without blemish and that is not at all what I am suggesting, that is simply unrealistic.  It isn't unrealistic in my view to be aware of the hows and whys that are behind some deals just so that one can make good decisions for the entire community.  Goodness gracious I sometimes fail to realize how a commentary can head off in an unintended direction.  lol  I am certainly also no against people benefiting from public projects and don't remember claiming that I was.  In fact someone benefiting is part and parcel with development of any kind, everyone gets that I do believe.  My point is, have a plan, know the plan and lets make sure that the plan is the best one for downtown. 

Those were statements to predicate the query as to what the folks on this forum and in the general public may think would have the most impact on downtown.  We can set the discussion about motive aside at this point, because that is not germane to the fact that the money will be spent.  By whom for what projects is important and how those projects may or may not be of the most benefit I would imagine to be of some concern for those who want a vibrant downtown and more money invested after time.  The best way to get more money into the core is to show what is spent there is spent creatively and with good insight and planning, in my opinion. :)

I agree with your second paragraph, Diane.  I just think that we need to move beyond the idea that Who proposes something is more important than What is being proposed.

I think that the entire basis of that train of thought turns all public transactions into a game of mummery and revenge.  For example, I would hope that your enemies would let a project you are for come to pass simply because your project is a good idea and a worthy one.  Not exclude your ideas and projects because someone has a bone to pick with you.

In fact, if there is anything we learned from the age of dynamite, it was exactly this kind of ground game that almost destroyed the core altogether.  Bucky Clarkson and Jack Diamond working against each other behind the scenes.

Lets outgrow this hick town approach and move to a big city mentality on projects.

Cheshire Cat

March 12, 2013, 01:12:21 AM
Not sure I fully understand your comment Stephen, but it is late.

I certainly am not claiming that those working on any project for downtown be without blemish and that is not at all what I am suggesting, that is simply unrealistic.  It isn't unrealistic in my view to be aware of the hows and whys that are behind some deals just so that one can make good decisions for the entire community.  Goodness gracious I sometimes fail to realize how a commentary can head off in an unintended direction.  lol  I am certainly also no against people benefiting from public projects and don't remember claiming that I was.  In fact someone benefiting is part and parcel with development of any kind, everyone gets that I do believe.  My point is, have a plan, know the plan and lets make sure that the plan is the best one for downtown. 

Those were statements to predicate the query as to what the folks on this forum and in the general public may think would have the most impact on downtown.  We can set the discussion about motive aside at this point, because that is not germane to the fact that the money will be spent.  By whom for what projects is important and how those projects may or may not be of the most benefit I would imagine to be of some concern for those who want a vibrant downtown and more money invested after time.  The best way to get more money into the core is to show what is spent there is spent creatively and with good insight and planning, in my opinion. :)

I agree with your second paragraph, Diane.  I just think that we need to move beyond the idea that Who proposes something is more important than What is being proposed.

I think that the entire basis of that train of thought turns all public transactions into a game of mummery and revenge.  For example, I would hope that your enemies would let a project you are for come to pass simply because your project is a good idea and a worthy one.  Not exclude your ideas and projects because someone has a bone to pick with you.

In fact, if there is anything we learned from the age of dynamite, it was exactly this kind of ground game that almost destroyed the core altogether.  Bucky Clarkson and Jack Diamond working against each other behind the scenes.

Lets outgrow this hick town approach and move to a big city mentality on projects.

We are getting closer to a resolve of thinking here Stephen I do believe.  I don't know where I stated that something should not be done because of the person who is suggesting it.  Not sure where that idea originates unless it stems from my remarks about politics in this town, which I stand by and which I believe may have resulted in a lot of the "Argle Bargle" in quite a few past projects the city has been involved in.  Pardon me for borrowing your Diamond analogy/impression, which by the way I have always gotten a kick out of.

Cheshire Cat

March 12, 2013, 01:13:59 AM
We are in agreement about the "exact" type of ground game and I do believe it is our different thinking patterns and ways of expressing them that have created some confusion here.  That's okay though.  I am doing my best to negotiate the various perspectives of the posters here because I think everyone's views are important.  For me this is all about a better Jacksonville.

stephendare

March 12, 2013, 01:17:03 AM
We are in agreement about the "exact" type of ground game and I do believe it is our different thinking patterns and ways of expressing them that have created some confusion here.  That's okay though.  I am doing my best to negotiate the various perspectives of the posters here because I think everyone's views are important.  For me this is all about a better Jacksonville.

I believe this is the god's honest truth, Diane.  I really do believe you have the best of the city at heart!

stephendare

March 12, 2013, 01:20:37 AM

We are getting closer to a resolve of thinking here Stephen I do believe.  I don't know where I stated that something should not be done because of the person who is suggesting it.  Not sure where that idea originates unless it stems from my remarks about politics in this town, which I stand by and which I believe may have resulted in a lot of the "Argle Bargle" in quite a few past projects the city has been involved in.  Pardon me for borrowing your Diamond analogy/impression, which by the way I have always gotten a kick out of.

Perhaps this is the crux of it?  I think several people gain the impression that your attempt to illuminate the motives of personal gain is also an indictment of any self interested person from participating in the public business.

It seems that you are not saying this?

Cheshire Cat

March 12, 2013, 01:30:12 AM
No, I am not saying this Stephen, not at all. I want to be clear about that.  :)

I will say that for someone like me who is used to talking face to face with folk, these online exchanges can truly be taxing.  Without the facial expressions and inflections in voice I am finding it is indeed difficult to be understood with accuracy, especially in the cases of issues that are of great importance to each of us. I am happy for the opportunity to clarify my meaning in the case of doubt.  I know I speak in a matter of fact tone in person, that may come across differently in a forum setting.  I find that even using smilies does not seem to help much. lol

stephendare

March 12, 2013, 01:51:42 AM
No, I am not saying this Stephen, not at all. I want to be clear about that.  :)

I will say that for someone like me who is used to talking face to face with folk, these online exchanges can truly be taxing.  Without the facial expressions and inflections in voice I am finding it is indeed difficult to be understood with accuracy, especially in the cases of issues that are of great importance to each of us. I am happy for the opportunity to clarify my meaning in the case of doubt.  I know I speak in a matter of fact tone in person, that may come across differently in a forum setting.  I find that even using smilies does not seem to help much. lol

trust me I understand.  I sound like such a dick sometimes when reading my own old posts!

simms3

March 12, 2013, 02:16:37 AM
^^^Umm Amen?  Diane I actually understood exactly what you were saying from the start, which is why I'm confused as to why some posters misinterpreted...but then I have to remember that I'm misinterpreted 90+% of the time and I myself misinterpret 90+% of the time.  I think online forums are very taxing...still undecided whether they are big time wasters or not.  I find myself drawn to them too often, and it is too easy when you're often the only soul in the office!  I usually just want to talk numbers because that's all I know, but I'm pretty much alone there on this board.

You have a unique political perspective which very few on this board have; would be interested in hearing your take on how backroom and real estate politics works in Jacksonville as compared to other places.  I mean it's pretty much standard across any industry, especially real estate, for backroom deals to be made and alliances formed, etc etc.  It's truly an industry of who you know in every sense (though I find it to be a real brain/finance industry, too, something not really apparent in Jacksonville real estate).

How would a variance request go down in Jacksonville?  Is there a deep connection between the city, JTA, and preferred developers?  Do local boys get special treatment over an outside group trying to do the same thing?  What's the gift giving situation like?  Who's wining and dining who...and where's the spot now?  Would you say there are people receiving kickbacks or undisclosed gifts/contributions?  This seems to be a global phenomenon, but what keeps the Jacksonville real estate circle so small, inbred, and so unsophisticated?  Many cities had small tight knit real estate circles for generations, especially the big cities like Boston and San Francisco.  I will say, though, there's something a little more respectable about a Mr. Walter Shorenstein or a Robert Tishman or a Sam Zell than a Jeff Spence of TriLegacy Group (of Shipyards fame...someone who has never built a building was honestly going to be master developer of a nearly $1B project in a tertiary market?  only such quack gets proposed in Miami...look at the Genting mixed-use casino failure!  LoL Talk about putting all your chips in a basket with holes!) or a Toney Sleiman of strip mall fame.  Even Charlotte has respectable developer dynasties, along with Nashville and now more recently Austin.  Cameron Kuhn from Orlando went the FL way...in on a helicopter and out with no money!  LoL  It's hilarious the stuff people smoke down in FL...maybe someday Jacksonville will get a real smart guy who gets it and can actually build something legitimate without bankrupting the city and himself in the process.  Ok...wow these rants make me realize how bad I make the city look.

Ok Diane, please spill the beans on politics and real estate as you see it in Jacksonville.  Why is the Civic Council so gung ho on this $9MM (which is chump change for basically getting anything done)?  Steve Halverson...president of Haskell.  They build a lot of garages.  Could this mean the $9M goes to a project that requires another garage that 99% chance gets rewarded to Haskell?

For the record, new federal guidelines as enacted by Frank Dodd for instance heavily regulate any sophisticated invesment vehicles, public or private.  My private firm, which is run by a small group of principals who act as advisers to a series of funds in their name, essentially, most of which have exclusively offshore investors, must report any and all activities to SEC, which in fact just audited us as procedure (we passed).  Very difficult to give gifts...must even report taking the president of a university or hospital out to lunch as a gift!  I have to report all stocks I buy/sell do to my potential inside knowldge of a vast array of firms...and I'm just an analyst at a private securities syndicator!

Anyway, I digress...the world of kickbacks and backroom deals seems to forever be around, but it's much more heavily scrutinized now...is that the case in Jacksonville?  Is it becoming more transparent?  I know Miami is one of the least transparent cities ever ever conceived...not many domestic players/developers down there, almost all foreign.  To us, they can have it!  They all get burned.

Cheshire Cat

March 12, 2013, 11:56:12 AM
@ Lake

^^^Yes, all good places the city can pump money.  2 quandaries, though:

1) The city has proven itself to be inept at handling money, investing money, partnering, or generally just doing its own homework

2) The private sector has an even worse track record in Jacksonville.  I do not have faith that the "Civic Council" will make a meaningful difference here.

So then what do we do?  Honestly...until someone playing in this arena (i.e. Civic Council, local developer, city leader) speaks up and proves they have a brain and will be a good steward of public trust and will ensure the money is funneled to a plan or project they have provided input on, one that actually sounds reasonable and fitting to the market (and one that has also been tried and tested and proven elsewhere under similar circumstances), I will not wish the city to spend another dime.

There's an asset I work on that we paid too much for and are pumping even more money into.  It is my argument that we should do nothing and ride the known and stable in-place revenue streams without worrying about spending a fortune for an incremental pop.  The city should look at using the same strategy (something it hasn't ever tried).

The city should maybe quit worrying about micro-managing downtown development, and instead focus on the big picture items such as schools, safety, and economic growth (solid economic growth, something the city has yet to learn how to foster).  There is nothing better for a Central Business District than solid business, which has bled out of downtown for decades now.

The Civic Council has been around for 2 years officially, and many more years unofficially or under separate name before that.  Someone remind me something tangible that has come about through this group.

To some degree I believe the folks here on MJ are the voice speaking up that will change past dynamics and views of what happens downtown.  This is due to the growing number of folks with expertise in a variety of the areas that impact growth in a community that are weighing in with ideas, facts and insight.  Jacksonville has always had a group of individuals who were willing to speak up about issues but their efforts were generally independent and getting attention and the ear of those in leadership was often a very difficult task.  The reach of this forum is changing that in increments. 

Cheshire Cat

March 12, 2013, 12:14:05 PM
To your last post Simms, there is much I could say and likely will overtime.:)  However I do believe that part of the answer to what you were asking with regard to how Jacksonville does business can be found in a statement by xplanner on the mobility thread which was:

Quote
The only people there on Monday to promote construction job creation were paid lobbyists, and way in the back of the room, their clients, who are not construction people at all but land speculators and entitlements merchants.

I believe that it is of paramount importance for those who want to change the tide in Jacksonville to understand how Jacksonville's politics and special interest machine works because this is what drives everything else here.  This is why I mentioned it on this thread.

I don't want to derail the conversation about what should be done with this money downtown and hope others will speak up about how the 9 million could best be used in our city.  Ennis made an important comparison in his earlier post.  Tacachle stated he would like to see the Laura Trio pursued but did not say why.  I think that it is important to define what the best use of funding is in order to have the best possible result when it comes to stimulating downtown. 

Is is my understanding that a bid has been placed on the Laura Trio, but I have not yet heard what the plans of the bidder are for the Trio.  I am guessing many here may know that.  I am also interested in the idea of public spaces and how that influences what happens in the core.  Often there is discussion about residential downtown, but honestly I am not sure that is a magic bullet either. 

I am suggesting that some review be made of the many good ideas offered here on downtown and then having visited those thoughts, perhaps an independent plan and view via this site for the core.  For instance the piece here that spoke to the decline of downtown as a result of industry and transportation.  I think Ennis penned that one.  It was excellent in it's ability to explain the decline along with the article that showed old Jacksonville photo's overlaid with elements in the core.  If we take a hard look at how we got here, we can also have a reasonable chance of understanding how to step out of the mistakes and weaknesses in the core and go forward in a way that will benefit all of Jacksonville

Tacachale

March 12, 2013, 01:48:49 PM
Well Diane, I think we can all agree that any project that receives public money needs to be planned for the maximum positive impact and return on investment. Where we disagree is where the projects come from and if that even matters. In short, my position is, I don't care if a project is thought up by a "mover and shaker" or channeled into the administration's office by Lord Ashtar of the Galactic Command, if it's a good public investment and a good project for downtown, I'm for it; if it's not, I'm again' it.

I said I'd like some money put toward the Laura Street Trio out of a desire to see these four significant buildings saved and this key intersection activated. I don't know what (feasible) specific plans are there now, whatever it is needs to be vetted, but I'd hope that some of this money in conjunction with the standing incentives could spark something. As for residential, I'd hardly call it a "silver bullet". I'd say no individual residential project is a silver bullet, they should all be seen as part of a multi-decade and multi-project strategy to increase the residential downtown.

Cheshire Cat

March 12, 2013, 02:44:46 PM
Well Diane, I think we can all agree that any project that receives public money needs to be planned for the maximum positive impact and return on investment. Where we disagree is where the projects come from and if that even matters. In short, my position is, I don't care if a project is thought up by a "mover and shaker" or channeled into the administration's office by Lord Ashtar of the Galactic Command, if it's a good public investment and a good project for downtown, I'm for it; if it's not, I'm again' it.

I said I'd like some money put toward the Laura Street Trio out of a desire to see these four significant buildings saved and this key intersection activated. I don't know what (feasible) specific plans are there now, whatever it is needs to be vetted, but I'd hope that some of this money in conjunction with the standing incentives could spark something. As for residential, I'd hardly call it a "silver bullet". I'd say no individual residential project is a silver bullet, they should all be seen as part of a multi-decade and multi-project strategy to increase the residential downtown.

It would be nice if you would lift the needle on that record you are playing when it comes to repeating your belief that I have a problem with where an idea or project originates.  I do not.  Not sure how to say it more plainly than that.  lol  I do however think it is important that everyone is "educated" as to the who, when, why and where some things happen in this city.  Reflecting on the Mellow Mushroom deal in Avondale would be an example at one level of influence of folks with money and connections.  Reflecting on the Moratorium debate is yet another example, at another level of the influence of special interests and their funding, in this case to employ lobbyists.  I am making no overall judgement with regard to who does what in Jacksonville but rather am simply pointing out the field of play in our city and the fact that it is not level most of the time.  In some ways simply accepting the current standards for doing business in our town might also be discouraging some of the most creative, ingenious and interesting projects from the core in favor of things like parking lots, which have become their own kind of blight. 

Now with regard to the Laura Street Trio I am a major fan of restoration of historic structures and would love to see those buildings alive and adding to the vitality and energy of the core.  I also well understand the need for downtown residential but think it may receive too much attention in the revitalization discussion.  Our downtown retail is weak and I can't help but believe that some of the needed changes in the core may have to come from organic changes, some of which can be spawned by thoughtful investment in the core.  For example, how many empty retail spaces do we have downtown?  How can those be filled?  Would it be reasonable to ask that those who own those spaces adjust their rental requirements to make it more feasible for start up and expanding businesses?  Would incentives for reduced licensing, deposits on utilities and the like help with that?  Tax abatement for folks moving to the core or other financial motivations?  We need to put focus on using what we currently have and how that can be made viable along with ideas for new development.

If we look at our downtown currently the statement we are making is greatly impacted by that mammoth, horrible overpriced Courthouse, with a life expectancy of 50 years mind you, that blots the landscape.  A building which I personally find downright unappealing and made worse by the fact that outside walk areas have been reduced to "goat paths" as some call them.  Tied into that monstrosity, are the various other governmental offices in the core.

The other very large influence and statement is the abundance of homeless outreach programs and facilities.  Discussion of this issue often becomes one about the moral aspects of the services and treatment of the homeless population.  Frankly, I don't think many people are of the mind that services and attention to the homeless is a wasteful endeavor.  The fact remains that we have a greater number of facilities to address the needs of this segment of our population in downtown.  Many more than other communities have in their entire city or county, Clay Co. being a prime example.  Inadvertently, the result of efforts to help is that we have created a situation that greatly impacts our downtown and how it is perceived.  This takes me back to some hit and miss discussions about the possible relocation of these independent efforts to an area that is outside the core yet accessible to transportation.  There was a great to do by the Mayor and administration regarding a "day center" for the homeless and then absolute silence.  Is it open?  Is it working? Is it enough?

I would also be interested to know how folks view the Landing in this equation.  As much as people dis it as a downtown draw, it is consistently where folks gather and events are held that get National attention. 

There is so much to discuss and the input of everyone will be needed to inspire and direct the changes coming to Jacksonville.

Tacachale

March 12, 2013, 04:25:27 PM
^Record? Needle? What's that? ;) 

Cheshire Cat

March 12, 2013, 05:46:19 PM
^Record? Needle? What's that? ;) 

A quaint form of "Ancient Technology" created by early cave men.  I believe the first big record release at the time was the hit "Alley Oop"!  ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75Q-ZE_Y6es

Note: It has also been rumored that it was during this period that the first edition of "Times Union" rolled off the rock press.
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