Author Topic: City Leaders Reveal Downtown Development Learnings from Trip to Toronto  (Read 840 times)

KenFSU

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JAX Chamber Leadership Trip’s sole focus on Downtown issues praised

City Council President Anna Lopez Brosche said she was impressed with JAX Chamber’s 37th annual Leadership Trip to Toronto last week, praising the singular focus on downtown development.

“That was my sixth trip, and I can say without a doubt I took more away than in years past,” said Brosche, who represents At-Large Group 1.

JAX Chamber took 140 Jacksonville-area civic and business leaders back to Toronto for the first time since 1993, taking a different approach by focusing on the sole theme of Downtown development.

Full story at the Daily Record:
https://www.jaxdailyrecord.com/article/the-cawton-report-leaders-reveal-what-they-learned-in-toronto

Sounds like one of Lori Boyer's two biggest takeaways were 1) as the downtown riverfront continues to develop, it's vital that developers are held to providing public space in their plans, 2) it's vital to have public transit in place prior to development booms.

City officials were particularly impressed with Sugar Beach, a project in Toronto that transformed a downtown surface parking lot into a 2-acre riverfront beach.

Thoughts on the concept?







Personally, I kind of love it. It's super on-brand for Jacksonville. It's really unique. And the beaches are clearly downtown's biggest competition in terms of recreation. If you can't beat em, why not bring a bit of that experience downtown.

Thoughts on where a concept like this might work along the river?
« Last Edit: November 11, 2017, 10:21:59 AM by KenFSU »
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Steve

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Re: City Leaders Reveal Downtown Development Learnings from Trip to Toronto
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2017, 10:34:48 AM »
Potentially, but in Toronto there isn't a real beach anywhere near downtown Toronto. We have one 20 miles from downtown.

The other concern I have with Toronto as the host city is it's the 4th largest city between the US and Canada, and far and away Canada's #1 metro. Much different concept.

My other concern is with these trips they don't see the forest through the trees. Case in point was Jacksonville's Riverwalk (compared to San Antonio) and the old train station turned convention center (compared to I believe Chattanooga). They failed to understand the concept that I can practically have a conversation with someone on the other side of San Antonio's river, and not to demolish 4 blocks in every direction around the convention center.

jaxnyc79

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Re: City Leaders Reveal Downtown Development Learnings from Trip to Toronto
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2017, 10:55:42 AM »
Potentially, but in Toronto there isn't a real beach anywhere near downtown Toronto. We have one 20 miles from downtown.

The other concern I have with Toronto as the host city is it's the 4th largest city between the US and Canada, and far and away Canada's #1 metro. Much different concept.

My other concern is with these trips they don't see the forest through the trees. Case in point was Jacksonville's Riverwalk (compared to San Antonio) and the old train station turned convention center (compared to I believe Chattanooga). They failed to understand the concept that I can practically have a conversation with someone on the other side of San Antonio's river, and not to demolish 4 blocks in every direction around the convention center.

I’ve never been to Toronto.  I have been to Ottawa and Montreal.  Again, I can only hope that the city reps got a sense of context and the pedestrian experience.  I imagine that many in the Jax delegation are used to experiencing a city in a car.  Did they actually get out and do a lot of walking to figure out what makes an urban district really pulse?  Or were they only drawn to the big and splashy projects...elements that are pretty to look at, and make for nice Chamber of Commerce brochure covers, but still leave you with a hollowed-out downtown?  Having said that, I have always loved the idea of a massive park along the riverfront, and if it needs a bit of sand to work, that’s fine as well.  In a place like Florida, however, it needs a ton of shade elements, it needs bright lights at night, it needs a plan for development lining its perimeter, it needs trails and other features to encourage activity, and it needs camera surveillance.  It also needs something to discourage vagrants, or at least minimize the impact of their presence.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2017, 11:03:33 AM by jaxnyc79 »

thelakelander

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Re: City Leaders Reveal Downtown Development Learnings from Trip to Toronto
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2017, 11:09:45 AM »
I wouldn't say it's unique. It's quite more common than we think. It's a cheap tactical urbanism style solution for diversifying public spaces.

I didn't take too many images of Montreal's version, but here are a few pics from their riverfront "beach" from May 2017. It's part of a park built on top of a former shipyards-like pier:





It was pretty cold, so no one was out. Here's the beach at Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit back in July 2017. It's actually around three blocks from the river but this park always seems to be packed with people whenever I'm up there:






 

Even Fernandina Beach has something similar.  Here's a few pics taken yesterday from a former unpaved surface parking lot along the waterfront.





IMO, Jax is about 10 to 15 years behind in incorporating cheap innovative ideas to activate dead spaces.  The best example is Fieldafm's food truck court on Hogan and it hasn't exactly been embraced by some of the suits in town. I don't think out right copying what these cities have done with their urban context is exactly the best answer.  However, I do believe these are good examples of incorporating affordable concepts to attract more use and energy out of their dead urban spaces.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2017, 11:12:55 AM by thelakelander »
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thelakelander

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Re: City Leaders Reveal Downtown Development Learnings from Trip to Toronto
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2017, 11:19:39 AM »
Potentially, but in Toronto there isn't a real beach anywhere near downtown Toronto. We have one 20 miles from downtown.

The other concern I have with Toronto as the host city is it's the 4th largest city between the US and Canada, and far and away Canada's #1 metro. Much different concept.

My other concern is with these trips they don't see the forest through the trees. Case in point was Jacksonville's Riverwalk (compared to San Antonio) and the old train station turned convention center (compared to I believe Chattanooga). They failed to understand the concept that I can practically have a conversation with someone on the other side of San Antonio's river, and not to demolish 4 blocks in every direction around the convention center.

I’ve never been to Toronto.  I have been to Ottawa and Montreal.  Again, I can only hope that the city reps got a sense of context and the pedestrian experience.  I imagine that many in the Jax delegation are used to experiencing a city in a car.  Did they actually get out and do a lot of walking to figure out what makes an urban district really pulse?  Or were they only drawn to the big and splashy projects...elements that are pretty to look at, and make for nice Chamber of Commerce brochure covers, but still leave you with a hollowed-out downtown?  Having said that, I have always loved the idea of a massive park along the riverfront, and if it needs a bit of sand to work, that’s fine as well.  In a place like Florida, however, it needs a ton of shade elements, it needs bright lights at night, it needs a plan for development lining its perimeter, it needs trails and other features to encourage activity, and it needs camera surveillance.  It also needs something to discourage vagrants, or at least minimize the impact of their presence.

Here's our massive park along a waterfront. It's been here for a century and pre-dates anything San Antonio can claim:







"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

jaxnyc79

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Re: City Leaders Reveal Downtown Development Learnings from Trip to Toronto
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2017, 11:28:54 AM »
Potentially, but in Toronto there isn't a real beach anywhere near downtown Toronto. We have one 20 miles from downtown.

The other concern I have with Toronto as the host city is it's the 4th largest city between the US and Canada, and far and away Canada's #1 metro. Much different concept.

My other concern is with these trips they don't see the forest through the trees. Case in point was Jacksonville's Riverwalk (compared to San Antonio) and the old train station turned convention center (compared to I believe Chattanooga). They failed to understand the concept that I can practically have a conversation with someone on the other side of San Antonio's river, and not to demolish 4 blocks in every direction around the convention center.

I’ve never been to Toronto.  I have been to Ottawa and Montreal.  Again, I can only hope that the city reps got a sense of context and the pedestrian experience.  I imagine that many in the Jax delegation are used to experiencing a city in a car.  Did they actually get out and do a lot of walking to figure out what makes an urban district really pulse?  Or were they only drawn to the big and splashy projects...elements that are pretty to look at, and make for nice Chamber of Commerce brochure covers, but still leave you with a hollowed-out downtown?  Having said that, I have always loved the idea of a massive park along the riverfront, and if it needs a bit of sand to work, that’s fine as well.  In a place like Florida, however, it needs a ton of shade elements, it needs bright lights at night, it needs a plan for development lining its perimeter, it needs trails and other features to encourage activity, and it needs camera surveillance.  It also needs something to discourage vagrants, or at least minimize the impact of their presence.

Honestly, the waterway in your posts could look amazing.  And I know I’ll be attacked on this thread, but I’d personally rather see money prioritized to go toward making this into an active, nicely manicured, pedestrian park with designated lots for new urbanism residential and commercial development all along its length, than toward tearing down the Hart Bridge ramps.

Here's our massive park along a waterfront. It's been here for a century and pre-dates anything San Antonio can claim:








« Last Edit: November 11, 2017, 11:31:41 AM by jaxnyc79 »

thelakelander

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Re: City Leaders Reveal Downtown Development Learnings from Trip to Toronto
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2017, 11:34:50 AM »
As for Toronto, it's a great city. However, I can understand Steve's concerns. The cool things will always stand out but understanding the context is most important. One thing that stands out with the Canadian cities is it doesn't appear they went as full blown with urban renewal as many American cities did. The coolest thing about Toronto isn't the waterfront or downtown. The best thing is the continuous pedestrian scale connection and building fabric between downtown and the surrounding inner city neighborhoods. This comes from not always considering redevelopment to be spending $8 million to raze vacant buildings to prepare the land for redevelopment.  That type of perspective with urban redevelopment gets you LaVilla, not Toronto.
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ProjectMaximus

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Re: City Leaders Reveal Downtown Development Learnings from Trip to Toronto
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2017, 12:00:04 PM »
Was Khan involved because of his hotel?

I wouldn't say it's unique. It's quite more common than we think. It's a cheap tactical urbanism style solution for diversifying public spaces.

And those beach volleyball courts we saw by the harbor in Baltimore (can't remember if it was more than just the volleyball)

thelakelander

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Re: City Leaders Reveal Downtown Development Learnings from Trip to Toronto
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2017, 09:49:24 PM »
^I forgot about that one. I think it was just volleyball but it's still a good example:





"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali