After years of neglect, the City of Jacksonville, Project for Public Spaces, and HDR, Inc. are teaming up to develop a master plan that brings life and activity back to Jacksonville's original "Central Park." Today, Metro Jacksonville shares a few of the concepts being considered by park planners.
Click to enlarge rendering
Despite being a historic urban public space, the Confederate Park concept calls for a dramatic modern makeover. A larger pond will consume a significant piece of the historic property and the recently constructed dog park will be relocated to the site of an existing building on an adjacent block. Sketches also indicate a "micro grocery" in the middle of the park in an existing structure on site.
The most dynamic makeover occurs south of Hogans Creek. Here, plans indicate the demolition of four blocks of private property for future mixed-use urban infill, a pedestrian corridor along Orange Street, and additional open park space on the corner of Main & State, one of the urban core's busiest intersections.
A streetcar line that will connect Springfield with Downtown will also run in this area. As the plan progresses, more consideration should be placed into making sure mass transit is properly integrated into the master plan.
The new dog park would be relocated one block east of its present site.
Here, the master plan concept calls for the conversion of Klutho Park into an atmosphere that mixes passive and active recreational uses. Components of the plan include flipping the current configuration of the baseball and soccer fields, replacing the 1st Street bridge with a narrow, yet iconic structure and the creation of an urban public square with Karpeles as the central anchor point.
Unfortunately, the plan is weak when considering better connectivity between the downtown core and the parks via Laura Street. With the Laura Street project getting underway in January, the plan currently misses a golden opportunity to encourage a stronger pedestrian friendly connection along one of downtown's most walkable corridors. In addition, it also calls for the complete demolition of Klutho's historic balustrades. In their place, the creek will be allowed to expand and flow more freely.
Klutho's balustrades, the park's most defining historic feature, will be lost if the plan is developed as shown.
McPhearson & Schell Parks
Plans for this section adjacent to Shands Jacksonville call for the demolition of the Duval County Health Department building and Klutho's balustrades in favor of a recreational space featuring tennis courts, basketball courts, volleyball courts, a playground, a skate park and an open community green. Issues still needing to be addressed include the integration of a bus rapid transit station and proposed VA Clinic with the park and the inclusion of retail/dining/vendor space within the park's borders.
Per HDR, the concepts were favorably received, and we anticipate having another vetting meeting with institutional and corporate stakeholders in the coming weeks. The scope of the master plan includes determining timing/cost for environmental remediation of soil and water, stormwater management (flood control), preservation and restoration of historic assets where possible, and inclusion of amenities and beautification components. The master plan is scheduled for completion in January 2010, though a short delivery delay is looking probable as we get into the holiday season.
Looking towards Hogans Creek along Laura Street.
In conclusion, the Hogans Creek Master Plan is a good start in developing a conceptual vision for the area. The plan incorporates many design elements and features that are needed to make a good public space. As the plan is further refined, greatness can be achieved by placing a stronger emphasis on elements that lead to the creation of an urban atmosphere with a "unique sense of place."
A few of these elements include Florida State College at Jacksonville, the State & Union corridor, and proposals for the Laura Street Streetscape, a streetcar system and the Laura Street TOD development.
FCSJ's Downtown Campus is adjacent to Hogans Creek, Laura, Main and Orange Streets.
By achieving better utilization and integration of existing assets, making historic preservation a higher priority, and striving for strong connectivity along all streets that directly connect Springfield with Downtown, the parks along Hogans Creek will become as popular as they once were 80 years ago.
Update by Ennis Davis