Massive Northbank riverfront redevelopment underway

September 30, 2016 33 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Downtown Jacksonville's most significant eyesore is about to receive a transformational makeover. In a city that's bent over backwards to accommodate the automobile since 1950, this project will return a full city block back to its natural state.

Downtown Jacksonville and the Northbank riverfront during the early 20th century. (Howard Lawson)

Jacksonville is a city that owes its existence to the river that flows through the heart of it. Throughout the first century of the city's history, the Northbank riverfront was a place lined with seafood markets, wharfs, shipyards, cargo and passenger terminals. By the 1950s, city officials felt that the waterfront, that gave the city life, was in desparate need of a makeover. That makeover came in the form of relocating riverfront industry, demolishing the wharf district and extending downtown one block into the river for a massive riverfront parking lot.

The Northbank Riverfront shortly after the 1960s completion of the City Hall Annex and Duval County Courthouse.
(State Archives of Florida)

As the decades passed, portions of the Northbank's massive public parking lot gave way to a mix of infill development projects such as the Jacksonville Landing, the Times-Union Performing Arts Center and the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront.

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Article by Ennis Davis, AICP originally published on Transform Jax section of Meaning Better TRANSportation and Urban FORM today, for a sustainable Jacksonville tomorrow, TransForm Jax's vision is to improve the vitality and quality of life in Jacksonville through creative, innovative, attainable, and sustainable solutions. A graduate of Florida A&M University, Ennis is a certified urban and transportation planner with 15 years of experience in the fields of architecture, planning and transportation. In addition, Ennis is a co-founder of Modern Cities, TransForm Jax, Atlanta-based HGI Investment Group and author of Reclaiming Jacksonville, Cohens: The Big Store and Images of Modern America: Jacksonville. Contact Ennis at or follow on Twitter and Facebook.