Author Topic: 4 Years of Brown: Taking DT Jax to the next level!  (Read 12897 times)

Metro Jacksonville

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4 Years of Brown: Taking DT Jax to the next level!
« on: June 30, 2015, 03:00:01 AM »
4 Years of Brown: Taking DT Jax to the next level!



On July 1, 2011, Mayor Alvin Brown became the first African American Mayor in Jacksonville's history. At the time, Mayor Brown promised that he would take Jacksonville to the Next Level. Revitalizing downtown Jacksonville was a major part of his plan to do just that. In honor of his last day as Mayor of the City of Jacksonville, here's a look at a few major downtown projects completed or under construction during Mayor Alvin Brown's four years in office.

Read More: http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2015-jun-4-years-of-brown-taking-dt-jax-to-the-next-level

For_F-L-O-R-I-D-A

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Re: 4 Years of Brown: Taking DT Jax to the next level!
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2015, 03:31:37 AM »
In the end, the Mayor gave it his best shot and I congratulate him on his service to this city.

Sadly, this is a very short list and in the end, I think that had a huge influence in him not getting to see the next four years. Mixed economic times (started very bad and now is picking up) and very underwhelming results.

Noone

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Re: 4 Years of Brown: Taking DT Jax to the next level!
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2015, 07:17:42 AM »
Very nice.
And how much influence did MJ have in this?
Let's not forget the artificial reefs in the river that will make Downtown a Destination and not a pass through.

CityLife

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Re: 4 Years of Brown: Taking DT Jax to the next level!
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2015, 09:21:29 AM »
The "economy" really isn't much of an excuse for Brown's lack of Downtown development.  Having worked in St. Johns County in the early portion of Brown's tenure, I can say that we were absolutely slammed with commercial, industrial, and residential projects back then. I'm sure Simms and others can share experiences of how much growth other cities were going through back in 11 and 12. Lake, I know you follow Miami a lot. It would be interesting to see just how much got built in Miami around that period.

In my opinion, a big factor in Brown's failure downtown is how long it took to get the DIA up and running. It took over 2 years to even get the DIA operational and hire an CEO. Wallace didn't start until September 2013, and he was not a big league hire. The city then did not get the Downtown CRA process done until early 2015. In that period, the city missed out on all kinds of opportunities to stimulate development. Fortunately, the stuff in Brooklyn got off the ground, but I believe the only public assistance those projects got were through REV Grants, which were in place prior to Brown.

The projects that actually do need some city assistance are still on standby. That will be what Brown will be remembered for Downtown....

It will be interesting to see what Curry does with the DIA.

thelakelander

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Re: 4 Years of Brown: Taking DT Jax to the next level!
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2015, 09:30:17 AM »
This came in my email yesterday:

Quote
Message from Mayor Alvin Brown

Dear Friends:

My term in office serving the people of this great city as mayor of Jacksonville was a distinct honor, and I thank you for your support during these last four years.  Despite the Great Recession forcing a large reduction in our workforce and millions in lost municipal revenue, we rallied together as a caring community. Through my administration’s six priorities, we stabilized government operations and accomplished a comprehensive set of achievements that will pay dividends for taxpayers for decades.

From Downtown to the Beaches and Baldwin, and in every neighborhood in between, Jacksonville is a city on the move. We established the Downtown Investment Authority without spending new revenue. Through public-private partnerships, we invested $40 million in community development improvements in long-neglected neighborhoods and corridors in Northwest and East Jacksonville through my Renew Jax initiative. We improved the insurance safety ratings on the Westside, thus lowering homeowners insurance premiums by thousands of dollars. We attracted Greencore, an Ireland-based company to invest in North Jacksonville, and GE Oil & Gas to the Cecil Commerce Center. And, we reached a pivotal settlement with the City of Atlantic Beach, ending a dispute over solid waste tipping fees.

We created a public investment policy to encourage companies that invest in targeted areas to hire employees from areas with high underemployment. For example, Safari Land recently committed to hiring 40 percent of its workforce from Northwest Jacksonville as a condition of receiving economic incentives from the city. These and other long-term tools have created local jobs and will continue to ensure that small businesses have the opportunity to flourish. We have empowered small businesses with access to more city contracting opportunities.  Along with public and private partners, we have announced more than two dozen economic development projects representing thousands of new jobs and a private capital investment of more than $780 million.
 
Jacksonville’s  financial wellbeing has benefited from the expertise of the city’s Finance Department, having refinanced $1.3 billion for $160 million in present value savings to taxpayers over 30 years. Further, the City of Jacksonville was ranked first in the U.S. for investment performance in 2013 by Morningstar and as reported by CNBC.

Despite a daunting lack of resources, the staff and leadership within the city’s operational units operated at top efficiency, leveraging their expertise and dedication for the greater good.  As a direct result, the City of Jacksonville enjoys the following recognitions.

¨       “2012 IBM Smarter City” (Office Public Private Partnerships)

¨       “2012-2014 Top ‘Digital City’ in the U.S. and ‘2015 Top 100 Innovative City’”  (Information Technology Division [ITD])

¨       "2013 Animal Care Agency and Supervisor of the Year Awardee" (Regulatory Compliance)

¨       In 2014, the city’s Planning & Development Department achieved unlimited accreditation by the International Accreditation Service.

¨       “2014-2015 Smart and Connected Community” for Telemedicine for championing the telehealth services pilot (ITD)

¨       “2014-2016 Citizen Engaged Community” (630-City)

¨       “2014 GroundWork USA” location and a “2015 USTA Best Facility Awardee” (Parks, Recreation and Community Services)

¨       Designated as one of 32 Rockefeller Foundation “Resilient Cities” in the world  (Jacksonville Fire & Rescue Division)

¨       A “2014-2015 Top 100 Best Fleet in North America” (Intra-Governmental Services)

¨       In 2015, the city became fully self-insured with full IRS-mandated Reserves (Employee Services)

¨       In 2015, the city became one of two “GE Intelligent Pilot Cities” in the world (Public Works)
 
Through ITD,  the city launched multiple award-winning mobile apps including JaxReady, MyJax, Fight Blight, JaxHapps and JaxFerry. A new Park Finder app will allow citizens to view and reserve amenities throughout the city.  The long-desired Property Asset Management Optimization (PAMO) web tool will empower citizens,  investors, planners, and policymakers to design long-term strategies that will eliminate blight at the neighborhood tract level. These services will be launched in the coming months.

We have made the government more transparent under JaxScore 2.0 – Jacksonville was named as the most transparent website in the state – and city employees more accountable under the JaxOps performance management system. I encourage you to visit JaxScore 2.0 often, as it is your window into continued city operations.  We have begun the process of enterprise change management; so that future administrations will no longer have to endure the 1960s-era paper processes that make city transactions so difficult to track. Within 24 months, the entirety of the city’s major functions will be automated, allowing information to be readily accessible to the public.

Thanks to a series of comprehensive programs that support our local service members, Jacksonville is the most “military-friendly city in the nation,” having hosted 280 companies in annual job fairs for veterans.  We have shown our profound appreciation for our military through our actions, through important initiatives such as the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program and the Jacksonville Veterans Resource and Reintegration Center.

Working together, we’ve accomplished so much over the past four years, including:

¨       graduated more ex-offenders through our GED and Career Readiness programs than ever through our grants and juvenile services units;

¨       hosted Community Empowerment Days and Business Builders in the heart of the community;

¨       established the Jacksonville Day Resource Center for the homeless;

¨       established Learn2Earn, Mayor’s Mentors, Youth Leadership Advisory Council and prevention and intervention programs;

¨       helped to fully fund and thus save Duval County JROTC programs at four high schools and several sports programs at middle schools;

¨       expanded the city’s urban parks initiative;

¨       opened City Hall with such programs as Interfaith breakfasts, HonHers, Mayor’s Trailblazer Awards, ICARE workshops, pastors’ briefings, and Holidays at St. James;

¨       engaged civil society through NPHC organizations, nonprofits and social service organizations;

¨       reestablished the North West Jacksonville Economic Development Trust Fund Advisory Council;

¨       reestablished the health clinic at the Schell-Sweet Center on Edward Waters College’s campus;

¨       established Operation Urban Blight which supported the City Council Ad-Hoc Blight Committee work with efforts such as the Tire and Sign buy-back, executive orders and legislation on blight, property and asset management;

¨       established the City’s inaugural community wealth building taskforce, port taskforce, and global cities taskforce;

¨       supported national efforts such as My Brother’s Keeper and the National Black Male Achievement Movement at the U.S. Conference of Mayors;

¨       moved the Department of Health’s administrative and IT resources into a city facility so that it can now use the $1 million it was paying in rent to private parties and reinvest those dollars in the community;

¨       made city buildings more environmentally friendly and energy efficient; and

¨       generated hundreds of millions of dollars in economic impact through sporting and entertainment events, thus improving quality of life.

 

And, after multiple attempts and many years of public debate, the City of Jacksonville now has pension reform that will ensure over $1.5 billion in estimated savings to taxpayers during the next 30 years.  As a result, on June 25, 2015, Moody’s announced its confirmation of the City’s Aa2 rating and stable outlook as “credit positive,” further stating that the “successful reform passage marks a final victory for outgoing Mayor Alvin Brown.”

Not one of these achievments would have been possible without the talented team of civil servants who made working on behalf of the residents of this city a true joy. Your hard work and sacrifice made an immeasurable difference.

Together, we made great strides in our collective efforts to grow Jacksonville’s reputation as a vital city on the move. We sparked a renaissance Downtown, breathing new life into our city’s urban core. We grew economic development and job creation, putting forth a clear message that Jacksonville is open for business. We lifted up our city’s military and veteran community, launching programs that support the success of those who serve and protect our nation. With these and many more accomplishments in place, Jacksonville is positioned for even greater success, and I’m proud of what we’ve achieved.

Again, thank you for your support over the last four years. It has been an honor to as your mayor.

Sincerely,

Alvin Brown
Mayor
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

thelakelander

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Re: 4 Years of Brown: Taking DT Jax to the next level!
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2015, 09:54:43 AM »
Lake, I know you follow Miami a lot. It would be interesting to see just how much got built in Miami around that period.

Night and day. DT Miami is back to levels it enjoyed before the real estate bust. However, it's a bona fide international city and Jax is a second tier regional city, in comparison. It's probably more applicable to compare DT Jax's recent economic activity with places that can be considered true peers....(ex. Louisville, Memphis, Birmingham, Richmond, Raleigh, Grand Rapids, etc.).
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

Tacachale

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Re: 4 Years of Brown: Taking DT Jax to the next level!
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2015, 10:28:55 AM »
I've been critical of Brown's job as mayor, but as CEO he has responsibility for what goes on under his purview, and that means he deserves credit for positive outcomes along with the blame for negative ones.

I'd regard Downtown as one of Brown's successes. He was certainly responsible for the EverBank Field renovations. Despite some hiccups on the city's end, the Brooklyn projects have gotten under way and have been one of Jacksonville's major urban success stories and something great to build on. And while the DIA took too long to get up and running, they've done solid work. Beyond that, Brown really changed the narrative about Downtown for a lot of people. He *always* talked positively about Downtown, and enthusiasm for it is 100% better than it was even when the economy was booming.

Another success was one that came too little, too late to save his campaign. The pension issue won't be something people probably remember 10 years from now, but it's a huge deal that he finally struck a deal that begins to take care of the problem. Hopefully it gets us on much stronger footing for the future.

A third accomplishment is something folks don't seem to be talking about much, and that's the historic nature of his election. Brown proved that an African-American Democrat could win the top post in a city many take for granted as a Republican stronghold. He defeated the front runner in what many assumed would be another Tea Party year and proved that voters of various stripes were willing to cross lines to win based on local issues. Regardless of everything else, Brown will be remembered for breaking boundaries and overthrowing conventional wisdom.
Do you believe that when the blue jay or another bird sings and the body is trembling, that is a signal that people are coming or something important is about to happen?

CityLife

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Re: 4 Years of Brown: Taking DT Jax to the next level!
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2015, 10:34:19 AM »
Good point Lake. A lot of Miami's luxury residential growth is fueled by Latin American and European people.

I'd be more curious to know what Orlando and Tampa got done in that time period and have under construction now, along with the out of state peers you mentioned.

BennyKrik

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Re: 4 Years of Brown: Taking DT Jax to the next level!
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2015, 11:00:05 AM »
Jacksonville is the only major city in Florida, which cannot be described as 'multi-ethnic/multi-cultural'. It's two notches above Jackson, Mississippi. What Jacksonville also doesn't have is swagger.

What we do have is the multitude of mediocre sushi joints and tattoo parlors.

And commercial real estate in dead downtown Jax carries asking prices as if it was a lively and bustling downtown. It is bizarre.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2015, 11:02:16 AM by BennyKrik »

tufsu1

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Re: 4 Years of Brown: Taking DT Jax to the next level!
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2015, 11:00:37 AM »
I'd be more curious to know what Orlando and Tampa got done in that time period and have under construction now, along with the out of state peers you mentioned.

not sure that would make you any happier.  There are many construction cranes in both cities.  Meanwhile our cranes are primarily on I-95.  Moreover, Tampa's economy is roaring again and their downtown is becoming more active every day. 

Todd_Parker

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Re: 4 Years of Brown: Taking DT Jax to the next level!
« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2015, 11:11:04 AM »
I'd be more curious to know what Orlando and Tampa got done in that time period and have under construction now, along with the out of state peers you mentioned.

 Meanwhile our cranes are primarily on I-95.   

Thus making it easier for everyone to quickly drive past Jacksonville in favor of more desirable destinations.

CityLife

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Re: 4 Years of Brown: Taking DT Jax to the next level!
« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2015, 11:13:07 AM »
I've been critical of Brown's job as mayor, but as CEO he has responsibility for what goes on under his purview, and that means he deserves credit for positive outcomes along with the blame for negative ones.

Disagree with that notion. There are a lot of developments that happen due to factors in the free market, not as a result of government assistance. For instance, I'm the development director for a municipality outside of Jax. The past year, the valuation of development is up 115% from the prior year, and 2 years ago it was up 55% from the prior year...and we were already seeing a lot of growth prior to this growth spurt. The spike in development is mostly due to external factors and market demand, not anything I or my city have done.  There are certainly many instances of cities stimulating growth through public improvements and incentives, but I'm not sure Brown really did much in this area in his tenure.

Brooklyn is happening due to market demand, proximity to 5 Points/large employers, infrastructure improvements from past administrations, REV Grants which were created by past administrations, relatively affordable real estate, and major investments from local developers. The city should not be applauded for getting them off the ground. It should be expected.

Taca, what would you list as DIA's major accomplishments in the past 2 years? Hemming Park is a start, but even the genesis of that was from local advocates...What are their other accomplishments?

« Last Edit: June 30, 2015, 11:21:07 AM by CityLife »

Tacachale

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Re: 4 Years of Brown: Taking DT Jax to the next level!
« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2015, 11:32:43 AM »
I've been critical of Brown's job as mayor, but as CEO he has responsibility for what goes on under his purview, and that means he deserves credit for positive outcomes along with the blame for negative ones.

Disagree with that notion. There are a lot of developments that happen due to factors in the free market, not as a result of government assistance. For instance, I'm the development director for a municipality outside of Jax. The past year, the valuation of development is up 115% from the prior year, and 2 years ago it was up 55% from the prior year...and we were already seeing a lot of growth prior to this growth spurt. The spike in development is mostly due to external factors and market demand, not anything I or my city have done.  There are certainly many instances of cities stimulating growth through public improvements and incentives, but I'm not sure Brown really did much in this area in his tenure.

Brooklyn is happening due to market demand, proximity to 5 Points/large employers, infrastructure improvements from past administrations, REV Grants which were created by past administrations, relatively affordable real estate, and major investments from local developers. The city should not be applauded for getting them off the ground. It should be expected.

Taca, what would you list as DIA's major accomplishments in the past 2 years? Hemming Park is a start, but even the genesis of that was from local advocates...What are their other accomplishments?

I was mainly trying to be positive.

As I said, I was quite Critical of Brown's performance. The Brooklyn projects did take city incentives under Brown (tax rebates if I recall) and despite some hiccups they're coming right along. Yes, projects like that should be expected, but the fact is that things have been very slow since the Recession.

As for DIA, I think they've done some good work on the small things, like issuing grants. They just don't have much of a budget or resources to work with, and they came together too late in the game to measure the real impact.
Do you believe that when the blue jay or another bird sings and the body is trembling, that is a signal that people are coming or something important is about to happen?

Todd_Parker

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Re: 4 Years of Brown: Taking DT Jax to the next level!
« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2015, 11:50:41 AM »
This came in my email yesterday:

Quote
Message from Mayor Alvin Brown


¨       “2012 IBM Smarter City” (Office Public Private Partnerships)

¨       In 2015, the city became one of two “GE Intelligent Pilot Cities” in the world (Public Works)
 

Out of curiosity, have any/will any tangible benefits be seen in Jacksonville from these two initiatives? Or is it more of a case of providing some ideas to implement whenever the city is financially able (i.e. - a long time from now)?

CityLife

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Re: 4 Years of Brown: Taking DT Jax to the next level!
« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2015, 11:54:46 AM »
I've been critical of Brown's job as mayor, but as CEO he has responsibility for what goes on under his purview, and that means he deserves credit for positive outcomes along with the blame for negative ones.

Disagree with that notion. There are a lot of developments that happen due to factors in the free market, not as a result of government assistance. For instance, I'm the development director for a municipality outside of Jax. The past year, the valuation of development is up 115% from the prior year, and 2 years ago it was up 55% from the prior year...and we were already seeing a lot of growth prior to this growth spurt. The spike in development is mostly due to external factors and market demand, not anything I or my city have done.  There are certainly many instances of cities stimulating growth through public improvements and incentives, but I'm not sure Brown really did much in this area in his tenure.

Brooklyn is happening due to market demand, proximity to 5 Points/large employers, infrastructure improvements from past administrations, REV Grants which were created by past administrations, relatively affordable real estate, and major investments from local developers. The city should not be applauded for getting them off the ground. It should be expected.

Taca, what would you list as DIA's major accomplishments in the past 2 years? Hemming Park is a start, but even the genesis of that was from local advocates...What are their other accomplishments?

I was mainly trying to be positive.

As I said, I was quite Critical of Brown's performance. The Brooklyn projects did take city incentives under Brown (tax rebates if I recall) and despite some hiccups they're coming right along. Yes, projects like that should be expected, but the fact is that things have been very slow since the Recession.

As for DIA, I think they've done some good work on the small things, like issuing grants. They just don't have much of a budget or resources to work with, and they came together too late in the game to measure the real impact.

I applaud your attempted positivity. Cheers. That said, now that a new administration is in place, I hope they are taking a hard look at Brown and the DIA's failures. I have a pretty good story to share with the chair of Curry's Economic Development task force about the DIA's shortcomings in one area...I'll shoot you a PM.

The REV Grants which are the property tax abatement that helped the Brooklyn projects get off the ground were created by the JEDC prior to Brown's tenure. They were used to lure Deutsche Bank back in 2008. They are probably even older than that. They also are approved by City Council.

I'm not an anti-Brown guy by any means. In fact, I held back quite a bit during the election, but now that he's out I think its time to take a critical look at mistakes and missed opportunities.