Reading this JBJ article made me think of many previous discussions held on this site. Downtown revitalization is a marathon, not a sprint. It took decades to destroy the vibrancy downtown Jacksonville once had and in reality, it may take decades for it to return to half of what it was in the late 1970s, which many long timers will claim was a period on decline. There are some things we can do to speed up the process, such as aggressive incentive policies (pay people to come back like Detroit, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, etc. or pour millions of public money into historic preservation/adaptive reuse....Laura Trio perhaps) or investing in mass transit to benefit from adjacent urban core residential population bases (like Charlotte, Salt Lake City, Houston, St. Louis, etc.). However, if we keep constructing an invisible fence of focus around the Northbank and believing that's going to lead to quick change, be prepared to be disappointed. Also, if we keep shooting ourselves in the foot with silly subsidies such as mobility fee moratoriums, we simply prolong an environment where private sector market rate investing in downtown simply doesn't make financial sense.
In this article, Farley Grainger mentions that he expected more redevelopment within the two years of coming back to the Northbank. I'm not surprised. What we're doing today is eerily similar to past redevelopment strategies and concepts over the last few decades. We'll need more innovative and out-of-the-box thinking if we what to speed up the process. The good thing going for us is that there are several successful examples out there to follow from peer cities.
Disappointed but not discouraged: Why Farley Grainger still believes in Downtown Jacksonville
.....The executives of real estate appraisal firm Broom, Moody, Johnson & Grainger Inc. moved their offices to Downtown Jacksonville in early 2011, expecting that they would be the first of many to return to the urban core.
Almost two years later, they’re still waiting.
President Farley Grainger is quick to say that the firm isn’t disappointed with its space in 121 Atlantic Place, a historic office building on West Forsyth Street. But he’s disappointed that little has happened.
“I don’t know that I’d say anything has changed,” he said.
full article: http://www.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/blog/2013/02/disappointed-but-not-discouraged-why.html