Breathing Life back into the Jacksonville Landing

July 8, 2008 89 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Some believe additional parking may be the answer to the Jacksonville Landing's woes, but history suggests that the center's ability to draw in national tenants will not be completely solved by a parking garage. Here are several things that, if implemented, may improve the Landing's viability.

1. Shift the focus to attracting entertainment and food oriented venues

The days of the Landing serving as a retail center which has the ability to draw residents from all over town are over.  The Landing does not have the layout, the convenience, or the modern facilities to compete with newer centers such as the St. Johns Town Center or the Avenues Mall. 

Despite the retail competition, it can establish an energetic scene by focusing on bringing in locally owned, non-chain businesses that will give the consumer a unique "Jacksonville Experience".  Doing this would further cement the center as a place that draws tourists, as well as pulls in residents who currently spend most of their time on the other side of the river.

Like the Landing, when Rouse's Waterside Festival Marketplace was built in Norfolk, VA, it was a popular place for small shops and vendors.  However, due to stiff competition from newer urban and suburban malls, the complex's days as a shopping center ended and the city reinvented the center to feature restaurants and nightclubs.  Today, restaurants and nightclubs make up 97% of Waterside's retail square footage.


2. Promote Uniqueness

The Landing's central waterfront location and the rich history of the surrounding urban core are strong assets.  Further, promote and strengthen the Landing's unique atmosphere by taking advantage of the city's history and the building's riverfront location.

List of Failed Rouse Marketplaces:

Water Street Pavilion - Flint, MI
Union Station - Indianapolis, IN
Portside - Toledo, OH
Sixth Street Marketplace - Richmond, VA
Festival Market - Lexington, KY
Saint Anthony Main - Minneapolis, MN
Bandana Square - Saint Paul, MN
West End Marketplace - Dallas, TX

Rouse Festival Marketplaces still open:

Riverwalk - New Orleans, LA
Harborplace - Baltimore, MD
Faneuil Hall - Boston, MA
Grand Avenue - Milwaukee, WI
Navy Pier - Chicago, IL
Jacksonville Landing - Jacksonville, FL
Bayside Marketplace - Miami, FL
Arizona Center - Phoenix, AZ
South Street Seaport - New York, NY
Waterside - Norfolk, VA
Station Square - Pittsburgh, PA



3. Invest a little money on updating the buildings 1980's era interior.

Walking inside the Landing is like taking a step into the era when Michael J. Fox was an A-List celebrity, the St. Johns had toll bridges, and the city smelled like the armpit of Florida.  Any new marketing scheme for the Landing should come with a little focus spent on bringing the center's interior into the new millennium.

Although Downtown Louisville's Fourth Street Live! complex is filled with national chains, developers bought in a tenant mix that complemented the concept of making the block into a dining and entertainment oriented powerhouse in the heart of downtown.



4. Publicly back the local rail movement

Help get such a plan off the ground by lobbying City Hall and JTA to back the local rail movement.  Studies prove that property values near rail stations typically increase over 25% over those not located near rail.  A potential streetcar line running down Water Street would have the ability to bring hundreds of thousands of visitor a year right past the front door of the Landing. 

In addition to this, the exposure would greatly enhance the value and marketability of the festival marketplace.  While the parking garage issue may be important, with rail stopping at the Landing's front door, the center would become a much more attractive place for potential tenants and customers, than one with only a parking garage across the street. 

Tampa's Channelside has seen an increase in business due to its connection with a streetcar line that connects the center with the convention center, downtown hotels and Ybor City.  The Landing could also receive a similar boost if rail connected it with the Hyatt, Omni, Bay Street Station and the Prime Osborn Convention Center (future Jacksonville Transportation Center).

The above ideas are just a few suggestions to the Jacksonville Landing management from Metro Jacksonville.  Feel free to take a minute and add your own ideas that will help reinvigorate the Landing.

Editorial written by Ennis Davis