The Role Of Mass Transit In Brooklyn's Renaissance

December 21, 2012 97 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

A redevelopment renaissance is underway in Brooklyn. However, there is one major problem. Brooklyn is physically separated from the downtown core. With this in mind, what role will mass transit play?

An aerial of Brooklyn with an overlay of the proposed Unity Plaza, 220 Riverside, Riverside YMCA, and Riverside Park projects.

With 220 Riverside underway and the Riverside YMCA's proposed project, Brooklyn is on the verge of becoming the hottest area of Jacksonville's urban core. On Wednesday morning, Mayor Alvin Brown added gas to the fire by signing legislation authorizing the city to move forward with public investment to support the development of Riverside Park.

According to a press release from the Mayor's Office, with 300 apartments and 65,000 square feet of retail, Riverside Park would become a neighbor to the 220 Riverside project, a $30 million investment that broke ground in November at Riverside Avenue and Jackson Street. That project includes 294 residential units along with 16,500 square feet of retail space, anchoring a public park provide enough green space to accommodate roughly 1,000 people.  In addition, the Riverside YMCA is proposing to construct a new 85,000 square foot structure across the street with room to add a mid-rise mixed-use development at a later date.

massing model of the Riverside Park project shown in white.  Graphic courtesy of Metro Jacksonville's Jason.

As for Riverside Park, its retail component will most likely result in downtown's only new grocery store for the foreseeable future. In essence, not only is Brooklyn poised to make a comeback, it has the ingredients to become it's own self enclosed urban node with limited connectivity with the rest of downtown. Without addressing the issue of mass transit, Brooklyn simply becomes an isolated node of activity and a competitor to the revitalization of the rest of downtown.  This goes against the basic principle of urban living in downtown, which is for residents to enjoy a lifestyle that doesn't require a trip to the car to access basic necessities.

massing model of proposed Brooklyn projects.  Graphic courtesy of Metro Jacksonville's Jason.

Considering the momentum and Brooklyn based focus, it's time for the Mayor's Office, the Downtown Investment Authority (DIA), Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA), and the City Council to get together and seriously attempt to address the role mass transit can play in bringing the overall downtown core to the next level.

With this in mind, here are a few projects worth taking a look at in Brooklyn:

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