So what's next? Did they or did they not get proper approval to destroy the building? Do they have approval to construct a parking lot and has that design been approved by the DRC?
If not, this thing is not over by a long shot. Losing the building was one thing, but that doesn't mean what has to rise in it's place can't be better than what it replaced.
I'm in Toronto right now and you would be amazed with the amount of urban creativity being displayed in this community, regardless of what the intended use is.
Its time for Jacksonville and especially the DRC to demand better from deliquent land owners and poor urban designers like KBJ. If they're moving forward with a parking lot and have not recieved approval, here are some things worth suggesting that the design incorporate.
1. All surface parking should be hidden. Not by plants and shrubs, but by a building facade or a wall made to look like a building sits on the corner. KBJ can cry all they want, but they're in the wrong on this one and surface parking lots on downtown corners go against the downtown master plan. The building may be gone, but that doesn't mean the DRC and city need to roll over again.
2. Demand more. KBJ just let a building go to hell with 26 years of neglect, then possibly demolished it without a permit. What's the punishment for doing such? If they really want a parking lot, demand that to allow the use, they also have to properly streetscape and landscape the rest of their horrible blighted block.....on their own dime.
3. New lot design should give back to the public. Blasting another peice of downtown's building fabric, further reduces the overall prospect of having a true walkable urban core. So in turn, that takes away from the public. The new design of whatever goes there should give back. In Toronto and some other progressive minded cities, you can't construct new projects in the core, without incorporating a little public space and artwork. While we hate the word, a portion of that space should become a "linear pocket park", with a significant wall (made to look like an actual building), shielding the public space and view, from the surface lot. That public space should also be designed to be interactive.
An example of this would be the wall having a few openings that could one day incorporate street vendors, making a space for small mom & pop operators to market themselves to the future courthouse crowd and residents starting to move in the area.
Anyway, those are just a few suggestions that I've noticed many of these Northern communities, I'm currently visiting, have pulled off with varying levels of success. Just because KBJ is a poor architectural firm, when it comes to urbanism, who also doesn't play by the rules, doesn't mean this city has to settle for second class design work and uses. Let's grow a little back bone and start demanding more, regardless of who's sitting on the other side of table.