Five Lessons for Jacksonville to Bring Retail Downtown

July 27, 2015 19 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Recently, a panel at the annual International Council of Shopping Centers offered a list of important points that cities like Jacksonville need to consider when trying to establish retail districts downtown. Here's a few lessons for Jacksonville based off a story by Andrew Keatts of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

3. Focus on Placemaking

Main Street in downtown Greenville, SC

Successful retail districts are a result of being a place, and being in a location, where people want to be. Whitworth says that Greenville is lucky to have a river through downtown complete with a scenic waterfall. It built around that asset, which helped draw people in. However, there were also four lanes of moving traffic with parallel parking, which took away from the area. "It was not an attractive place to be. So we narrowed down the street," Whitworth said. The space was converted to have large sidewalks, giving way to pedestrians, and outdoor cafes and retail tenants soon filled the area.

4. Build a Critical Mass

East 4th Street in downtown Cleveland

Robert Stark, who is a mixed-use developer with Stark Enterprises, believes that successful projects come from taking advantage of already existing resources within any given city. "If you or your project can connect existing community assets, you're a winner," Stark said.

In Stark’s hometown of Cleveland, as well as other cities across the US, the “flight” to the suburbs over the last 60 years or so has left many underused, low-end office and retail spaces. But this worked to an advantage, because they were easy to convert in to residential spaces.

Once downtown living became popular again, amenities had to follow. In Cleveland in particular, 15,000 people moved back to the downtown districts in just 5 years.

"Transformational, critical mass retail development, requires mixed-use," Stark said. "Anyone will agree. That's what the urban condition is about: it's dense, mixed-use, and putting people on top of each other who are doing different things at the same time who come down to the street and create this energy, this tension … between people."

 PREV 1 2 3 NEXT