A brief look at the status of various projects under construction in and around Jacksonville's Edge City, the Southside.
What Is An Edge City?
Tinseltown, near the JTB/Southside Boulevard interchange
The term, Edge City, was popularized in the 1991 book Edge City: Life on the New Frontier by Joel Garreau, who established its current meaning while working as a reporter for the Washington Post. Garreau argues that the edge city has become the standard form of urban growth worldwide, representing a 20th-century urban form unlike that of the 19th-century central downtown.
According to Garreau, Edge Cities typically consist of mid-rise office towers surrounded by massive surface parking lots and manicured lawns. Instead of a traditional street grid, their infrastructure networks consist of winding parkways (often lacking sidewalks) that feed into arterial roads and freeway ramps. They develop at or near freeway intersections and airports and they rarely include heavy industry. They are large geographically because they are built at automobile scale.
Edge Cities are impossible without the automobile. This is fitting because the first Edge City was Detroit's New Center, which was developed in the 1920's, three miles north of that city's downtown. As streetcar systems were shut down, expressways expanded and automobile ownership surged, these secondary downtowns exploded with growth during the mid to late 20th century. Today, Washington, D.C's Tysons Corner is the classic example of an Edge City containing more office space than downtown Atlanta, GA.
In Jacksonville, the Southside, specially the JTB corridor, has developed into our first true Edge City. According to Garreau, there are five rules for a place to be considered an Edge City:
1. It must have more than five million square feet of office space. This is enough to house between 20,000 and 50,000 office workers, as many as some traditional downtowns. As of 2006, over 7 million square feet of office space was located within a three mile radius of Deerwood Park North.
2. It must have more than 600,000 square feet of retail space, the size of a medium shopping mall. This ensures that the edge city is a center of recreation and commerce as well as office work. St. Johns Town Center alone contains over 1 million square feet of retail space.
3. It must be characterized by more jobs than bedrooms. Despite the resident boom in condominium development along Gate Parkway, the JTB corridor is still known for its proliferation of office complexes.
4. It must be perceived by the population as one place. When it comes to the urban core, many consider Riverside and San Marco to be different neighborhoods from downtown. Despite, engulfing a land area larger than many major cities like San Francisco and Miami, most of the JTB corridor is identified as being in the Southside.
5. It must have been nothing like a city 30 years earlier. In 1983, most of the JTB corridor was primarily rural and undeveloped.
Over the Southside's Blue Cross Blue Shield campus.
Because the Southside is our only emerging Edge City and in the midst of a development boom, we have decided to expand our monthly construction updates to include this area of Jacksonville.
Next Page: March 2013 Construction Update