Ten Principles for Creating A Successful Hemming Plaza

April 17, 2012 30 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

In 2005, Metro Jacksonville pointed out to the JEDC and Peyton Administration why the Main Street Pocket Park would struggle to succeed if built. We were ignored and $800,000 later, the chickens eventually came home to roost as our warnings became reality. Now that we're destined to repeat the same mistakes with Hemming Plaza, we'd like to take a step back and examine ten principles needed for a successful urban public space, according to Project for Public Spaces. If the council's committee can embrace and plan from this set of principles, Hemming Plaza will be the centerplace of activity once again.

3. Amenities

Hemming Park once included a number of amenities such as a gazebo, benches, hardscape, and green areas.

A square should feature amenities that make it comfortable for people to use. A bench or waste receptacle in just the right location can make a big difference in how people choose to use a place. Lighting can strengthen a square's identity while highlighting specific activities, entrances, or pathways. Public art can be a great magnet for children of all ages to come together. Whether temporary or permanent, a good amenity will help establish a convivial setting for social interaction.

The Hemming Plaza short term plan calls for the possible removal of a certain percentage of tree cover and existing fixed seating areas. In return, high maintenance movable seating would be purchased and the City of Jacksonville would be on the hook for providing an additional $30,000 annually for an employee to shuffle seats around the park.  If the goal is to improve the attractability of the public space better utilization of fiscal resources should be considered.

Hemming's mature tree canopy, considered to be an amenity by most, could be possibly eliminated if the committee's short and long term recommendations are approved by City Council.

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