A Lot Of Opportunities

March 19, 2015 3 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Among the pages of Metrojacksonville.com, readers often find countless examples of public officials being lambasted and criticized. Despite the seemingly ever-rising tide of complaints, there are public servants who go above and beyond their duties and serve the public with distinction. In 2014, Director of Public Parking Officer Jack Shad was named as the Office of Economic Development's employee of the year. Parking dominates downtown and yet there is tremendous opportunity to change the way parking is best utilized. In the past few years, the Office of Public Parking has re-examined how to more efficiently use parking for the benefit of downtown under Jack's leadership. Today, Jack discusses what has been going in on in the world of public parking.

MJ: Most people do not think about parking unless they are looking for a space to park, but parking has a tremendous impact on our built environment. Parking is the most salient landscape feature of the urban core's landscape. According to Downtown Vision (DVI), more than 50% of downtown Jacksonville's streetscape consists of "dead space" - either parking lots, garages, vacant buildings, or buildings less than 25% occupied. This has a detrimental effect on creating a vibrant pedestrian-scale environment downtown. Talk about how you have creatively turned this dead space into productive assets while heading the Office of Public Parking.

A major challenge in creating a vibrant urban environment is the proliferation of dead space. This image illustrates the large instances of surface parking lots and vacant property (depicted in red) in downtown Jacksonville.

Jack: In order to change the Downtown environment, we must work together with the Downtown property owners, the parking lot owners and our Downtown partners such as the Downtown Investment Authority (DIA) and Downtown Vision, Inc. (DVI).   Parking is a small component of the overall fabric.  In the Parking Division, we evaluate every modification, improvement or contract through the lens of trying to make Downtown more vibrant 24/7.

Since 2011, The Legend Series has dazzled Northeast Florida with pop-up dinner events that showcase the best of our area’s culinary, visual, musical and performing arts. The sixth event in The Legend Series took place the evening of Saturday, April 20th at the Yates Parking Garage. The event was in partnership with One Spark with assistance from the Office of Public Parking. Photo courtesy: The Legend Series and Agnes Lopez of Pose Well Studios.

Chef Waylon Rivers from Black Sheep Restaurant prepares lamb loin with smoking gun potatoes, peas in a pod, parsley fennel pollen gremolato crisp at The Legends Series Six inside the Yates Parking Garage. For one night, the parking garage was turned into an exclusive dining destination complete with dancing, performance art, a craft cocktail bar and decadent food prepared on site. Photo courtesy: The Legend Series and Agnes Lopez of Pose Well Studios.

PARK(ing) Day is a annual open-source global event where citizens, artists and activists collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spaces into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public places. Pictured is a scene from 2012 when the City of Jacksonville participated in PARK(ing) Day in collaboration with TransForm Jax, Downtown Vision and the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville.

Jack: Our food truck space at Main and Forsyth surface parking lot has been very popular since we introduced it in 2012.  People have really jumped at the chance to mix up their lunch options.  It is a very telling sign that the Super Food Truck, which has been at the lot for a while, liked the area so much that they have rented the empty space across the street at 11E.

Corner Taco food truck at the City of Jacksonville parking lot at Main and Forsyth streets. Photo Credit: Gary T Mills/The Times-Union.

Jack: The Parking Division has worked with the Art in Public Places program.  Garages are a natural place for public murals - they often present big, blank spaces (and tend to look alike).  The painting of the girl with the birds at the Yates Garage is a great example of this.

“Girl and Origami” by Neptune Beach artist Sean Mahan. Photo courtesy: Tiffany Manning.

MJ: Parking is a hot topic when recruiting employers to locate downtown. How has the Office of Public Parking assisted in the recruitment of employers downtown?

Jack: Parking is a big consideration for any business looking to locate Downtown.  Our Office of Economic Development works closely with any interested business to come up with parking options that will best suit their situation.

Sometimes it comes down to our ability to deal with special requests and get creative.  With the Citizens Property Insurance decision, for example, the company has a number of over-sized vehicles that they use during natural disasters, and the company needed a place to store them near their office.  We were able to work with EverBank Tower management to find a place for those vehicles at the Water Street Garage.

Everbank Center at 956,201 of total square footage is the largest Class A office building in downtown Jacksonville and is the home to such companies as Everbank, Citizens Property Insurance and C2C Solutions. Photo courtesy: El-Ad National.

Under Jack's leadership, Enterprise Rent-A-Car became the first ground level retail tenant to open in the library parking garage at 33 W Duval St since the garage's construction nearly a decade ago.

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