The 1992 Downtown White Paper: The Proposals

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The second part of the acclaimed Downtown White Paper of 1992. Produced by a select group of professionals, architects, and gentlemen businessmen, the White Paper confronted the nightmare scenario left in the wake of the cities ill managed Hemming Park improvement project. Reeling from the shocking loss of 4 million square feet of retail in 2 years, the unwinding of the office lease market, and the beginning signs of failure from the Riverfront projects, listen as the Blue Ribbon Panel makes proposals to save the sinking downtown.

The following is a direct reprint of the original 1992 White Paper.  All text from the White paper is provided in black, with commentary by the author provided in blue.

To catch up on the plans read Part 1, as well as our articles about the 1971 plan and the 1987 update.  

What Should We Do to Reverse the Decline of Downtown Jacksonville?

While CJI recognizes that Jacksonville's downtown experienced considerable growth and achievement during the late 1970s and through the mid-1980s, it also believes that, since the mid to late 1980s the area has been in serious decline. That decline can still be reversed through private initiative and reasonable governmental assistance. A later section of this study recommends some ways in which government leaders, business leaders and ordinary citizens can make downtown Jacksonville the prosperous, growing and vital area that is so important to the City's future. Some of these goals can be accomplished in the near future; others will take years to accomplish. Nevertheless, it is crucial that a vision for downtown Jacksonville be developed through consensus and this vision be brought to realty through the concerted effort of Jacksonville's citizens and their leaders. This study is intended to be a first step toward reaching a consensus and achieving the realty. The development and achievements experienced during the brief span ending in the 1980s should not be viewed 50 years from now as the pinnacle of downtown Jacksonville's history. CJI strongly believes that the citizens of Jacksonville must move their downtown forward, together.

The following steps — individually and collectively — address immediate and long- term actions that CJI believes will help downtown Jacksonville move toward recovery. These seemingly diverse elements should be viewed as components of a coherent, fully integrated campaign. Each individual step will effect an improvement, but as a comprehensive multi-faceted program, the fully orchestrated effort will achieve disproportionately positive results.

Adoption of A Practical Master Plan

It is recommended that a master plan for downtown be created based on the City's 2010 Comprehensive Plan and the Initial Action Plan adopted by the City Council in 1987 after extensive public input. The plan should be realistic and flexible enough to accommodate changing circumstances and must provide for realistic enforcement measures. The core city area is currently subject to the provisions of development orders covering the three downtown developments of regional impact (DRIs). These development orders are currently in the process of being consolidated through the efforts of the DDA. The DRI structure provides a very good framework for implementing a masterplan that would incorporate a number of the recommendations that follow in this report.

The specific proposals that follow are fascinating in retrospect.  Some of them were implemented, some were aborted, some were badly executed.  Read through the original thought dna of the present in the pages that follow.....

PAGE 2:  Creation of a Distinctive "Jacksonville Heritage District" and Increased Security
PAGE 3:  Development of New Cultural Facilities and a Government Center on Hemming Park
PAGE 4:  Land Banking, Incentives and "Capitalizing" Tax Increment Income
PAGE 5:  Development of Mass Transit, Visual Enhancement of Downtown, Housing and the expansion of the Downtown Development Agency

Article by Stephen Dare

Stephen Dare photo by Toni Smailagic

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