You don't think this city hasn't invited the owners of SJTC to attempt to do something downtown? Believe me, Ben Carter and Simon have already been contacted. In the 1980s, it was Rouse. The 1990s, we decided to take out LaVilla. In the 2000s, it was LandMar and the Shipyards. We see how all that turned out. On the other hand, King Street has bloomed to life in the middle of a recession from several "little" local players who've been excluded out of the downtown game.
Downtown revitalization is one of the easiest problems to fix in Jacksonville, IMO. There is a national wide trend of people flocking back to urban cores all across the country. It's where Echo Boomers (a generation that's larger than the Baby Boom population) want to be.
The only reason downtown has struggled to cash in is because of us. We've torn down most of the existing building fabric that was suitable for urban pioneers. We've implemented silly policies to where small business can barely even advertise themselves at street level and we've continued to approve projects that are deadly at street level (Parador garage for example). Then instead of following the natural revitalization process, we continue to swing wildly for expensive one hit home run projects (Shipyards for example) instead of manufacturing points with bunts, singles, walks, stolen bases and doubles.
The main thing we need to stop is our continued actions that has limited market rate development from taking place. We've been the problem by continuing to enforce policy that makes the CBD hostile to business and pedestrians. The answer to this problem isn't giving riverfront property and $20 million to Bass Pro or Target. It's not even trying to recreate the wheel to be "different" from the Pittsburgh, Tampa, and Memphis. It's really as simple as making the decision to stop tripping over our own two feet. Set a plan but that plan should not have an entity with no development experience out front pre-determining private sector uses or preferring certain retailers/developers over another. Setting you vision, development regulations, streamlining the permitting process, investing in public infrastructure, etc. is one thing. But grabbing and reserving blocks for preferred user whoever is another.