SPARK District Urban Arts Live Work Proposal

September 13, 2014 8 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

When Bill Killingsworth---the brilliant Urban Planner and visionary who created the Mobility Plan--- was piecing together the elements for creating downtown as a bona fide 'arts district' (which came to be called the "SPARK district") one of the most important elements was to provide affordable live/work space for the creative community. He put together the Urban Arts Initiative to do just that. Join us after the jump for the details of his startling forward thinking proposal.

Urban Arts street project in Brazil.

Naturally, Killingsworth was sidelined by the Brown Administration and the project was transferred over to the leadership of the Cultural Council.  At the Cultural Council, it found champions in the persons of Chris Flagg and Amy Crane (who left the Council for the Community Foundation a while ago) without whom the project would have been set adrift under the flagging energy of the Bob White era of the organization.

As followers of the arts already know, the departure of White was followed by a brief periods of entropy and chaos a the Council itself went through four Executive Directors in a 12 month period.

The New Day Era however, has officially begun over at the Council, signaled by the leadership of Diane Brunet Garcia, Lisa Goodrich, and the installation of all kinds of new blood into an organization that had been increasingly siloed and insular over the preceding decade.  Tony Allegretti was chosen as the executive director, Abel Harding was elected this year's chair, and the all powerful programming committee has been expanded to create real involvement with artists and creators in the city.

And of course the SPARK district plans have become an initiative of the Board.  Chris Flagg---the consultant who did a good amount of the work for Killingsworth's original planning initiative brings the institutional knowledge, and Bill Killingsworth himself has agreed to serve as an advisory on the SPARK district committee. (which includes the dynamic Lisa Goodrich)

Recently Metrojacksonville has obtained all of the planning documentation and studies that formed the basis of the SPARK district initiative and we will be publishing significant portions of them online (we will probably end up having the most complete online resources for the project as so much of the information was lost in translation as it jumped departments and then faced multiple administration changes (both in the mayors office and in the Planning Department and Cultural Council.)

This one is particularly important, because downtown has yet to address the idea of directed affordable housing other than a nebulous wave to 'workplace housing' in the list of things to be worked on in the future.  Here you will see affordable housing proposed in such a way that it directly expands the number of people living and working in the downtown, but also workforce housing that is itself a part of the engine of economic development.

In other words, vintage Bill Killingsworth.

text and documentation by stephen dare

An artist live/work urban arts project in Sydney, Australia. (not the art scene bags)

urban arts live work project in Memphis, Tennessee