JRTC Greyhound Terminal Design Moving Forward

December 7, 2011 73 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Despite significant questions regarding the cost, need, and feasibility of the Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center (JRTC), the design of the JRTC's Greyhound bus terminal has been recommended for final approval by the Downtown Development Review Board (DDRB) in Thursday's DDRB meeting.

The JRTC Master Plan

The Greyhound bus terminal will be located five blocks north of the sprawling JRTC's Amtrak and commuter rail platforms.

JRTC Pedestrian Connectivity Plan

A Greyhound or Megabus passenger desiring to transfer to commuter rail will have to carry their luggage a minimum of five blocks.  In the event of inclement weather, the transit user can choose to add an additional two blocks to trip to take advantage of a series of covered walkways.

JRTC Greyhound Bus Terminal Site Plan

The new Greyhound Bus Terminal will be located at the corner of Adams and Johnson Street.  The revised plan preserves the historic building at Adams & Stuart and leaves Stuart Street open to the public.

JRTC Greyhound Bus Terminal Floor Plan

The terminal will include a restaurant, restrooms and kitchen at the intersection of Adams and Johnson Streets.  However, the general public will not have access to this business from this intersection.  In addition, this dining facility will be designed with no outside visibility or outdoor seating area, two design components that are critical in the development of a vibrant downtown atmosphere.

JRTC Greyhound Bus Terminal Renderings

View of front entrance from Houston and Johnson Streets.

View of the bus terminal's main entrance.  The restaurant is located at the corner of Johnson and Adams Streets.  It will be permanently hidden from the rest of society with a stucco wall and trees, creating a pedestrian hostile environment along a major downtown street (Adams Street).

View of the bus terminal's bus bay area.

Side views of the bus terminal.

A perspective rendering of the JRTC Greyhound block.

The revised perspective rendering of the JRTC complex.

A rendering of the JRTC's main entrance from Adams Street illustrates a plan that leaves a lot to be desired.

A rendering illustrating the design of the pedestrian improvements intended to connect the Greyhound Terminal to the Skyway and Prime Osborn Convention Center.

Requested Downtown Development Guideline Deviations

JTA has requested three downtown development guideline deviations to allow for the suburban Greyhound design.

1. Limited Entrances

Only one main entrance is proposed to control public access and for security.  Unfortunately, the design moving forward lacks in taking advantage of street corners and sidewalk dining by developing a layout that moves the restaurant adjacent to the entrance.

2. Transparency

An interior layout designed for an urban setting would resolve the issue of developing another solid wall against a major downtown street.  Instead of exploring that avenue, a deviation of following downtown development guidelines has been requested.

3. Streetscape

This deviation request has been made to accommodate a proposed drop off/loading area along Johnson Street.

Here is a simple five minute quick sketch of how to make this plan better fit into a pedestrian scale downtown setting by basically swapping the restroom and food service components and relocating the main entrance.  This small change still maintains the applicant's desired security concerns while also improving the surrounding urban environment through the use of an interactive street edge that visualizes the restaurant, adds transparency to Adams Street, and outdoor seating without the need of a second main entrance.  It's safe to assume that an additional ten minutes of review would unveil a number of missed opportunities the current design fails to take advantage of.

Despite serious issues that question the validity and capital cost of the entire JRTC project as proposed, the Greyhound Bus Terminal's plans are underwhelming for a downtown environment.  While many would like to see downtown become a destination and not a pass through, it's the small suburban designed projects that continue to limit the Northbank's ultimate potential.  If we want to be successful in our efforts to revitalize and make our downtown vibrant, it may be time to invest in training courses focusing on the basics of understanding proven urban design principles.

Article by Ennis Davis