Author Topic: Is this the South's most underrated downtown?  (Read 15495 times)

Metro Jacksonville

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Is this the South's most underrated downtown?
« on: January 19, 2016, 06:45:01 AM »
Is this the South's most underrated downtown?



Article by Ennis Davis

Read More: http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2016-jan-is-this-the-souths-most-underrated-downtown

camarocane

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Re: Is this the South's most underrated downtown?
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2016, 08:44:22 AM »
I've traveled to Greenville quite a bit in the last 15 years. They are certainly doing something from which Jacksonville can learn a lot.

CCMjax

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Re: Is this the South's most underrated downtown?
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2016, 08:46:54 AM »
I lived in Greenville for 2 years before moving to Jax 3 years ago.  That city is a great model regarding revitalization when people with vision get together and make something happen.  It helps that it has a very well educated population with Clemson and Furman being close by and many transplants working for the plethora of engineering companies, etc.  According to the locals who grew up there though, there was absolutely no reason to go downtown 15+ years ago.  It was dead, ugly, and had a highway going right through where the beautiful Falls Park now exists smack in the middle of Main Street.  There are many things to learn from Greenville's experience, one thing is that downtowns that are bleak and seem to have no hope can transform over the course of 10 to 15 years.  They have done a wonderful job restoring what was in place and infilling vacant property.  You can walk down Main Street on a Monday night at 9 o'clock and there are still lots of people out and about.  They shut down Main Street on Saturday's (or at least they did a few years ago) and it turns into one giant market with thousands of people.  It is in my mind one of the most successful downtown revitalization effort in the country in the past 20 years.
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tufsu1

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Re: Is this the South's most underrated downtown?
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2016, 09:01:30 AM »
There's an argument that it could be the nation's most underrated town.  I was asked yesterday for my top 5 favorite public places/spaces in the country. Falls Park on the Reedy made the list.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2016, 09:03:25 AM by tufsu1 »

thelakelander

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Re: Is this the South's most underrated downtown?
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2016, 09:37:34 AM »
^What's your other four favorite spaces?
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

KenFSU

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Re: Is this the South's most underrated downtown?
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2016, 09:47:01 AM »
^Doak Campbell
Strozier Library
Oglesby Union
Leach Center

InnerCityPressure

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Re: Is this the South's most underrated downtown?
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2016, 10:07:21 AM »
I've never been, but now I really want to go.  It looks like Chattanooga.  Is that accurate?

Adam White

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Re: Is this the South's most underrated downtown?
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2016, 10:17:25 AM »
My father is from Buffalo, NY. I still have a bunch of cousins up there. Anyway - that city was always a dump.

But the other day, I read an article about how Buffalo was "rising" and how they have regenerated the downtown and stuff. I think if they can manage to do stuff is a hole like Buffalo, we shouldn't have any problem in Jax.

As far as Greenville is concerned - I've never been there. But I thought the article was interesting in that it seems decisions made by people (like a four lane road through downtown) were probably made without an appreciation for the long-term negatives. I'm sure that road was built to handle increased traffic and was probably seen as a good thing at that point.

It's nice to see when people can learn from mistakes and make a conscious effort to change things. We don't need to settle for the way things are or just assume they can't get any better. And we shouldn't expect them to immediately change with one or two little (or big) fixes.
“If you're going to play it out of tune, then play it out of tune properly.”

MusicMan

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Re: Is this the South's most underrated downtown?
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2016, 11:05:35 AM »
I blogged about Greenville extensively on MJ after my most recent trip there in late May. It's not big but is incredibly attractive, achieving a great balance between preservation of exiting buildings and new construction. The Main Street Farmers Market (on Saturdays) is tremendous.

One thing downtown Greenville has is that it is a source of pride among all of the County residents, not just the folks who live near downtown.
My friends and relatives who live in the Greater Greenville area take tremendous pride in how cool downtown has become. That's not the case in Jacksonville. If you can ever get the broad population of Duval County to take an interest in seeing downtown Jax being great again that would be a big help. My experience is that the Beach communities and the large population centers not in the immediate vicinity of the urban core could care less about downtown Jax. They rarely visit and have no vested interest in seeing it a s a hub of commercial or cultural activity.

vicupstate

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Re: Is this the South's most underrated downtown?
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2016, 11:07:14 AM »
While Greenville SC, was a hidden gem for some time, the word has definitely gotten out, as witnessed by this partial list of rankings:


#7 Best in the US to Visit in 2015                                                                                          
Lonely Planet

Top Six 2015's Hottest New Vacation Destinations
     
CBS News / Peter Greenberg

America's Greatest Main Streets
Travel & Leisure, 2012

Downtown Greenville Great American Main Street Award
National Trust for Historic Preservation

Greenville’s Main Street Named Great American Street
American Planning Association

Main Street: #3 Best Alfresco Dining Neighborhoods
10 Best/USA Today           
               
Top 12 "South's Best Foodie Cities"
Convention South, Readers' Choice List, 2014

Food Meccas - Best Up-and-Coming Food Destinations
Destination Travel Magazine, 2013

Falls Park on the Reedy: Top 10 Park in the US
Trip Advisor, 2014

Top 10 Cycling Cities in the United States      
Global Cycling Network

5th Best "U.S. Cycling Town"
10Best Readers Choice Contest, 2014

GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail: #3 Best Urban Trail 
10 Best/USA Today

Artisphere: Top 10 Fine Art Show in the US
Art Fair Sourcebook, 2014

TD Saturday Market - Top 20 Event in the Southeast
Southeast Tourism Society, 2013


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Gunnar

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Re: Is this the South's most underrated downtown?
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2016, 11:57:51 AM »
They have done a wonderful job restoring what was in place and infilling vacant property. 

Just curious: Do you know the "what was in place" vs. "vacant property ratio", i.e. how much of downtown was still there when revitalization started ?
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vicupstate

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Re: Is this the South's most underrated downtown?
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2016, 01:25:32 PM »
They have done a wonderful job restoring what was in place and infilling vacant property. 

Just curious: Do you know the "what was in place" vs. "vacant property ratio", i.e. how much of downtown was still there when revitalization started ?


I have lived in Greenville since '96, so I can speak with authority.  There were definitely some icons that were lost. Every city has those.  Since the late 1980's that has mostly stopped.  There is a real appreciation for keeping the old architecture in place. 

We were very lucky in that the storefronts fronting on Main Street itself were nearly all left intact.  That made for an environment where organic growth could sprout up without the high cost of new construction.  That is a big reason why I am so adamant against MOST demolitions in JAX.     
"The problem with quotes on the internet is you can never be certain they're authentic." - Abraham Lincoln

Gunnar

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Re: Is this the South's most underrated downtown?
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2016, 04:25:36 PM »
They have done a wonderful job restoring what was in place and infilling vacant property. 

Just curious: Do you know the "what was in place" vs. "vacant property ratio", i.e. how much of downtown was still there when revitalization started ?


I have lived in Greenville since '96, so I can speak with authority.  There were definitely some icons that were lost. Every city has those.  Since the late 1980's that has mostly stopped.  There is a real appreciation for keeping the old architecture in place. 

We were very lucky in that the storefronts fronting on Main Street itself were nearly all left intact.  That made for an environment where organic growth could sprout up without the high cost of new construction.  That is a big reason why I am so adamant against MOST demolitions in JAX.     

Thanks and definitely agree with you.
I want to live in a society where people can voice unpopular opinions because I know that as a result of that, a society grows and matures...” — Hugh Hefner

Deuce

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Re: Is this the South's most underrated downtown?
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2016, 04:33:06 PM »
I can speak to the G-spot renaissance as well. I was raised in Greenville and my father still lives there. We moved there when I was a little kid in 75/76 and I remained there until I left for college in the early nineties. We lived in a down-townish neighborhood, Cleveland Forest, that bordered Cleveland Park, when I was young. We could even hear the lions roar in the zoo when we dined on the porch. The upper falls area (where that cool bridge is) and downtown proper was still very much a no-man's land then.

The development of the Peace center was a huge spur to its growth. The changes I witnessed to one downtown spot, The Corner Pocket, tells the story. As a teen in high school it was a seedy pool hall with blacked out windows that you could smoke in. By the time I was in my early 20's they had refurbished the inside and added a seating area to eat and replaced the window so you could see in. A few years later, it had become 2 levels and was packed with people hanging out and listening to music. There were only a couple of pool tables left and the name that gave a hint to it's original incarnation.

Funny thing is, as teens we couldn't wait to get out of that town. Now as an adult I think it would be a great place to live. Every time my wife and I travel there we go downtown to shop and hang out. She thinks it would be great to live there one day. Since she's a Jacksonville native and we only have traveled in the summer, I told her she needs to visit in Feb for a week and see if that changes her mind.  :)

Don't let the pop numbers fool you either. The city limits are tightly drawn and no other city or area has wanted to incorporate for a long time. The MSA is about 850k so it's about 2/3 of Jax's size.

On every visit we always have a picnic in a particular area of Cleveland park that is like one of those hidden gems. I highly recommend a visit if you are in town: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Rock+Quarry+Garden/@34.8425539,-82.3934853,18.9z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0000000000000000:0x45e8ae427ff437ad?hl=en

thelakelander

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Re: Is this the South's most underrated downtown?
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2016, 05:00:00 PM »
How does downtown Spartanburg compare?
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali