2017 saw continued residential construction in Jacksonville's urban core. Looking forward to 2018, here are four projects and points of discussion that have the potential to lay the groundwork for a future vibrant center city.
1. Khan, Curry and Cordish
In July 2017, Jacksonville Jaguars President Mark Lamping took Mayor Lenny Curry and Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa on a cross-country trip to tour mixed-use entertainment projects adjacent to sports facilities by The Cordish Companies. At the time, Lamping stated that "They're one of the developers that are interested in helping us." In early December, Mayor Curry went as far as to hint about a possible entertainment district coming soon to downtown. You don't have to be a Rhodes Scholar to figure out where this is headed. Expect the smoke with Khan, Curry and Cordish to turn into a fire in 2018.
2. LaVilla is Rediscovered
More than two decades after the City of Jacksonville razed most of LaVilla in hopes of stimulating revitalization, new construction finally materialized in Downtown's historic African-American district. In fact, 2017 ended in a bang with the Lofts of LaVilla opening its doors and Summer Classics announcing plans to convert a long vacant LaVilla building into a high end furniture retail showroom, assemblage and warehouse. As we head into 2018, LaVilla currently has a intermodal transportation center and an additional 180 residential units under construction and more proposed. Centrally located between I-95, Brooklyn and the Northbank and home to city blocks of vacant parcels, LaVilla's days of being overlooked, ignored and disregarded are over.
This article by Ennis Davis, AICP, was originally published by the Florida Times-Union on October 31, 2017. Davis is a certified senior planner and graduate of Florida A&M University. He is the author of the award winning books “Reclaiming Jacksonville,” “Cohen Brothers: The Big Store” and “Images of Modern America: Jacksonville.” Davis has served with various organizations committed to improving urban communities, including the American Planning Association and the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. A 2013 Next City Vanguard, Davis is the co-founder of Metro Jacksonville.com and ModernCities.com — two websites dedicated to promoting fiscally sustainable communities — and Transform Jax, a tactical urbanist group. Contact Ennis at email@example.com