River City Marketplace: A Boom in North Jacksonville

April 1, 2014 42 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

While the booming Southside continues to receive most local media coverage, North Jacksonville has a rapidly growing commercial epicenter of its own. Today, Metro Jacksonville explores River City Marketplace and additional development underway around the popular shopping destination.

Airport Center Drive

As a part of the construction of River City Marketplace, the City of Jacksonville built Airport Center Drive, connecting Airport Road and Interstate 95 with the entrance of River City Marketplace and Main Street (US 17). Since the opening of River City Marketplace, Airport Center Drive has been extended east of Main Street to New Berlin Road.

Like Town Center Parkway, its counterpart on Jacksonville's Southside, Airport Center Drive is now filled with a mix of commercial uses. However, unlike Town Center Parkway, Nautica Drive and Skymarks Drive were built to parallel Airport Center Drive to the south and north. Adjacent restaurants and retail along the corridor also have parking lots that are connected to one another, enabling better traffic movement on Airport Center Drive.

Max Leggett Parkway

In 2012, Duval Road, formerly a rural two lane roadway, was renamed after Max Leggett. Leggett who died in 2009, was a former Jacksonville City Council member and Northside civic activist. The four-lane Max Leggett Parkway connects Airport Road, Airport Center Drive, and River City Marketplace with Duval Station Road. With Airport Center Drive nearly built out, Parkway Shops and UF Health Jacksonville as anchors, Max Leggett Parkway will become the area's next booming commercial corridor.

UF Health Jacksonville  North

Formerly known as Shands Jacksonville, UF Health Jacksonville is constructing a new medical facility just north of River City Marketplace and Airport Center Drive. According to their website, UF Health Jacksonville North will be a state?of?the?art, six-story medical office building located at the northeast corner of Interstate 95 and Max Leggett Parkway. The full-service outpatient facility will include an emergency department, obstetrics, general surgery and ancillary services such as state-of-the-art imaging, laboratory and outpatient rehabilitation. Completion is set for early 2015.

In addition, a 92-bed hospital has been preliminarily approved for construction on the UF Health Jacksonville North campus by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration.

The population of north Jacksonville has grown by 30 percent from 2000 to 2013, more than double the growth rate observed in the rest of Duval and Nassau counties. As the population continues to rise, so does the need for a hospital to serve this growing area. UF Health Jacksonville North will provide greater access to more healthcare services for these residents, as well as those living in surrounding communities.

For more information: http://north.ufhealthjax.org/

Commuter Rail

River City Marketplace and associated development in the area are adjacent to the First Coast Railroad's rail line paralleling Main Street. This corridor is being considered to be served by commuter rail service connecting Nassau County with Jacksonville's Urban Core and Downtown, via the S-Line. If this project becomes reality, urban core residents will be a short reliable mass transit ride away from North Jacksonville's hottest area for commercial development.

Article and photographs by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at edavis@moderncities.com

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