Author Topic: Three high-impact downtown developments could require $244 million in incentives  (Read 10331 times)

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 35031
    • Modern Cities
I always find it interesting how demographics are interpreted. No matter where, a shrinking white population is always considered a "huge plus" because diversity. On the other side of the coin, if an area is mostly black and sees the black population shrink because of others moving in, then it's considered gentrification and a negative impact for the area. Given the low crime rates, quality schools, income and health demographics of St Johns County, wouldn't we want more of that in DT vs what's already around the area which is - high crime, poor health, terrible schools?

It is interesting. I mean, based on our upbringing and culture, we all come with our biases. However, as a Black person, I don't view things the way you just described. What I like about Duval diversifying has very little to do with white or black. I love the fact that we are becoming a multicultural community that allows people here to experience a number of cultural experiences that are different from our upbringing. To me, this is something that the other counties don't have at their disposal. Some of the best Indian food around can be found off Baymeadows. 103rd Street is home to a number of Hispanic establishments. University is becoming home to a number of Eastern European places. Gullah Geechee experiences can be found in the Eastside and NW Jax. The old school Jax low country experience can be found off Heckscher. We should embrace where we're headed and that means a challenge for downtown's future is making sure we plan a space that embraces our actual demographics. For those that don't appreciate multiculturalism and what it brings, its perfectly okay to move to St. Johns County or places like Wildlight in Nassau. We should have a freedom of choice in where we want to reside and the context that comes with those decisions.

As for gentrification, I also view it as something totally different. No matter the color of someone's skin, I'm not a fan of holding a community down for decades via discriminatory public policy and investment and then leaving that population open to be picked off by others who are in better financial position that come in and attempt to erase those communities. For me, that's pretty unethical. So my approach (to combat displacement) revolves around finding ways to provide less priviledged communitites with the power to prosper and preserve their own neighborhoods.....if that's what they desire.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2024, 03:52:16 PM by thelakelander »
"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

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 35031
    • Modern Cities
The only thing that makes us consider leaving town is the schools. All cities have crime and out of control sprawl. Some of these cities have it much worse and still have much better cores.

Atlanta being exhibit A.  Booming core plus endless sprawl. Don't know much about their public school system but the traffic literally sent me packing back home to Jax in 2011.

I've never liked Atlanta. It's a cool place to visit and its changed a lot the last 20 years but I find the historical urban context and unconnected street grid of paved goat's paths quite depressing.
"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

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 35031
    • Modern Cities
The only thing that makes us consider leaving town is the schools. All cities have crime and out of control sprawl. Some of these cities have it much worse and still have much better cores.

Recently went through the process of navigating school entry, as my oldest is coming of age. I'm in a poorly rated school district, so the local zoned school wasn't an option. We toured public schools, charter schools, and private schools. Think 7 total, some more than once. I learned that there are A LOT of school choice options, so not difficult to find a quality school if you have means to transport kids to and from. But because there are a lot, it's also more complicated and thus can be intimidating. Of the schools toured, we would have been comfortable at 4 of them, and got into 3 of those - one private, one charter, one public (via school preference). We chose the public.

I know the process well. Almost moved to San Marco once to be in the Hendricks Elementary zone. My boys ended up being fed through the Mandarin schools. Even with public schools, solutions can be found throughout Duval. St. Johns and Clay were never an option because the sprawl and distance from the urban core wasn't appealing. I would have moved back home to Central Florida if they were the only option, as we could have had access to 10 Red Lobsters and Chick-Fil-A drive thrus instead of 1 or 2, while still being 30 to 40 minutes from multiple vibrant downtown districts.

On this note, I did look at the Orange County public school system once when I was working down there a few years ago. In the end, Duval's public school system was better.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2024, 04:05:28 PM by thelakelander »
"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

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8326
Quote
If you asked the average person, they would likely choose St. Johns over Jacksonville. Same goes for the 10,000+ acres rezoned north of Nocatee.

Only if we consider the average person of a certain homogeneous demographic. I literally have no desire to be in St. Johns County. Nothing there appeals to me that wasn't in much larger supply from where I came from in Central Florida. I wouldn't touch the place with a ten-foot pole. Nothing against those that are attracted to that type of lifestyle, it's just not my cup of tea. DT Jax will never out sprawl....sprawl cookie cutter subdivisions and autocentric strip malls. 

There's hundreds of thousands out here who share the same sentiment. I'd agrue that it would be good for the future of downtown (and the urban core) to focus on appealing to a different market and demographic. Appeal to the segment of the market that is already there, nearby or attracted to what makes the area unique. This means also revamping the zoning code to facilitate a different growth pattern and finally investing in the public infrastructure, parks, schools, etc. at a similar level as we've done in the burbs since WWII. The tall buildings will eventually be viable again when there's a reason for a larger segment of the population to spend time and money in the vicinity.

By "Only if we consider the average person of a certain homogeneous demographic" do you mean white people? Because in Florida, more than 50% of the state is white non-hispanic. I can assure you that St. Johns attracts people outside of an average white American. Even so, I mentioned average & if you take demographics out of this completely, pricing proves my point. I don't think DT is competing with St. Johns for housing families, but they certainly are housing more than just families in St. Johns with the thousands of apartments that were built there between 2018-2023.

While I didn't bring up race, I will also add that Jacksonville's racial and ethic demographics are different from Florida's as well. White non-hispanic is already the minority and its going to continue to shrink as we grow to become a more multicultural community. This is actually a huge plus, if this reality is catered to in relationship to downtown's future. It's something that no other suburban county in this region can mimick.

Even in the urban core, we could use thousands of more multifamily units, missing middle housing, etc. at various price points and development types to cater to the demand. Considering our urban core is built for two or three times as many people than it holds today, it's a huge market opportunity that could be unleashed through the help of zoning modifications and additional investment in public infrastructure, parks, schools, etc.

https://www.jacksonville.gov/departments/office-of-economic-development/about-jacksonville/demographics

I'm just following the stats online. The demographics for our combined metro are of course more skewed. Nonetheless, it is a bold claim to say that St. Johns does not contribute to the economic drain in Jacksonville. Quite literally, there are thousands of people from Jacksonville who have packed up from their 1980-1990's built subdivisions, and have moved to their 2010-2020's built subdivisions. It's a textbook example. Properties like Related speak to a different audience that really only the Vista Brooklyn & the Strand currently see. Both having some of the highest rents in the city for apartments.

I've mentioned this before, and others have too, but this project could prove that the Southbank CRA should be sunsetted. There really isn't the need for incentives there if they are able to achieve rents near $3 psf. Throw the extra funding towards the Northbank where it is really needed. Again, only if Related is right about their pro forma.

I find it hard to believe that St. Johns is impacting anything we can and can't do in downtown. Historically, downtown's biggest challenges have been self inflicted wounds and it's impossible to talk market realities in downtown without accounting for our mistakes there.

SJC may be causing some flight of certain demographics, but Duval is more than making up for it with newcomers. Even in the urban core where there was 60 years of population loss, the population is growing again. Now, it’s possible there’s a symmetry between the folks who like SJC and those who would like one of these new developments, and that has impacted the lack of these developments going up. At the end of the day, we just don’t have are a lot of Downtown units of any stripe. IMO, all these projects are worthy, so if a good deal is passed I’m happy.
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?

Tacachale

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8326
I always find it interesting how demographics are interpreted. No matter where, a shrinking white population is always considered a "huge plus" because diversity. On the other side of the coin, if an area is mostly black and sees the black population shrink because of others moving in, then it's considered gentrification and a negative impact for the area. Given the low crime rates, quality schools, income and health demographics of St Johns County, wouldn't we want more of that in DT vs what's already around the area which is - high crime, poor health, terrible schools?

It is interesting. I mean, based on our upbringing and culture, we all come with our biases. However, as a Black person, I don't view things the way you just described. What I like about Duval diversifying has very little to do with white or black. I love the fact that we are becoming a multicultural community that allows people here to experience a number of cultural experiences that are different from our upbringing. To me, this is something that the other counties don't have at their disposal. Some of the best Indian food around can be found off Baymeadows. 103rd Street is home to a number of Hispanic establishments. University is becoming home to a number of Eastern European places. Gullah Geechee experiences can be found in the Eastside and NW Jax. The old school Jax low country experience can be found off Heckscher. We should embrace where we're headed and that means a challenge for downtown's future is making sure we plan a space that embraces our actual demographics. For those that don't appreciate multiculturalism and what it brings, its perfectly okay to move to St. Johns County or places like Wildlight in Nassau. We should have a freedom of choice in where we want to reside and the context that comes with those decisions.

As for gentrification, I also view it as something totally different. No matter the color of someone's skin, I'm not a fan of holding a community down for decades via discriminatory public policy and investment and then leaving that population open to be picked off by others who are in better financial position that come in and attempt to erase those communities. For me, that's pretty unethical. So my approach (to combat displacement) revolves around finding ways to provide less priviledged communitites with the power to prosper and preserve their own neighborhoods.....if that's what they desire.

As a white guy from the suburbs I can state with full confidence that there are *far* more people who’d consider a shrinking white population or growing black population in their neighborhood as a negative than a plus. That’s a big reason they move to homogenous places like St. Johns County.
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?

vicupstate

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3866
Quote
However in our situation, consolidation has not worked out well for our DT & several other parts of town. CityLife has commented on this before as well... Our planning staff, commission, etc. are all stretched to cover more than any other municipality in Florida. There's no way you can convince me that our local code/government is set up to be anywhere near as fluid as Orlando, Tampa, or St. Pete. In the time I have worked here, there have been 0 meaningful zoning changes to speak of through legislation. Meanwhile... all three cities listed above have implemented several overlays & code changes over the same time period.

Consolidation itself has NEVER been the problem with DT. Incompetent and term-limited leadership has been. Pure and simple. The Consolidation crutch is just that, a crutch and a lame excuse.  JAX has spent MORE than enough money to make DT a huge success. It has just spent it badly and without vision, consistency and most of all good policy.

Indianapolis, Norfolk and Nashville are all examples of consolidated cities that have very successful downtowns and have consolidated government with hundreds of square miles in theirs limits.

 
"The problem with quotes on the internet is you can never be certain they're authentic." - Abraham Lincoln

Alex Sifakis

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 25
1) Gateway should break ground in September on the 7 story mixed use adjacent to the porter house. The 22 story tower and other 7 story tower should follow late 24/early 25.

2) Gateway’s residents should mostly come from suburban high end apartments that have been built around the city (think the jtb/295 corridor) the last 10-15 years. Charge a couple hundred bucks for the same bedroom unit (that will have less square feet) but offer an amazing pedestrian experience, high end design and amenities, and the ability to walk to 20 high end F&B concepts, retail, services, grocer, etc within a couple blocks. 

Joey Mackey

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 39
but offer an amazing pedestrian experience, high end design and amenities, and the ability to walk to 20 high end F&B concepts, retail, services, grocer, etc within a couple blocks.

Hell, if Gateway can pull that off (I’m think the equivalent of Taverna/Michael’s for F&B; Publix/Whole Food for grocer; and Lululemon/Banana Republic for retail) My partner and I will gladly leave the Southbank and be some of Gateway’s first residents.

Jax_Developer

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 598
Quote
However in our situation, consolidation has not worked out well for our DT & several other parts of town. CityLife has commented on this before as well... Our planning staff, commission, etc. are all stretched to cover more than any other municipality in Florida. There's no way you can convince me that our local code/government is set up to be anywhere near as fluid as Orlando, Tampa, or St. Pete. In the time I have worked here, there have been 0 meaningful zoning changes to speak of through legislation. Meanwhile... all three cities listed above have implemented several overlays & code changes over the same time period.

Consolidation itself has NEVER been the problem with DT. Incompetent and term-limited leadership has been. Pure and simple. The Consolidation crutch is just that, a crutch and a lame excuse.  JAX has spent MORE than enough money to make DT a huge success. It has just spent it badly and without vision, consistency and most of all good policy.

Indianapolis, Norfolk and Nashville are all examples of consolidated cities that have very successful downtowns and have consolidated government with hundreds of square miles in theirs limits.

 

Here at the Jaxson, I have learned that surrounding areas don't contribute to downtowns. Even though downtowns, quite literally, are formed from concentrations of positive economics, here in Jacksonville, DT exists in a vacuum. It's not the fact that we haven't reformed our planning code in 15+ years, or that we never built out water/sewer after consolidation, or the lack of mitigation banks for our district, or that we are constantly rezoning rural land for apartments...

Leadership has come & gone for decades. DT hasn't been a warzone forever, and I personally know people that used to frequently visit downtown post consolidation. Things can change & they have. If you think consolidation is just a crutch, you are a part of the problem frankly. Think I'm wrong? Look up your examples and you'll find a much more robust system with much more effort on zoning & building policy. You also completely discount the complexities of dealing with wetlands. You also won't see PUD's like we do here, which quite literally indicates a failed zoning policy.

Jax_Developer

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 598
For the people that disagree..

Were you upset when our cities core office market moved to Baymeadows/Southside? Were you at the council meetings? That market is now twice the size of DT. What followed? Everything else. I can guarantee you that there was almost zero opposition.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2024, 09:01:03 AM by Jax_Developer »

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 35031
    • Modern Cities
Here at the Jaxson, I have learned that surrounding areas don't contribute to downtowns. Even though downtowns, quite literally, are formed from concentrations of positive economics, here in Jacksonville, DT exists in a vacuum. It's not the fact that we haven't reformed our planning code in 15+ years, or that we never built out water/sewer after consolidation, or the lack of mitigation banks for our district, or that we are constantly rezoning rural land for apartments...

I think you've misunderstood the historical information we've been sharing since 2005 or so, or maybe haven't looked that far back in Jax's history to get a full grasp on how we've arrived where we are today. The surrounding area, especially the urban core neighborhoods that are 1/2 as dense as they are today, have impacted what downtown is today. In addition, decades of poor public policy decisions and investments in downtown have as well. The loss of most of our big homegrown companies that employed thousands in downtown-based corporate headquarters throughout the 1980s and 90s have left a last impact on the office market as well. Luckily, we're not the only city that has had to overcome these challenges, so there's a slew of best practices solutions that we could apply to our local context.

To talk market realities and growth patterns of today, the impact of these things must be considered and addressed. Ignoring how we got here, and not directly addressing those issues, has resulted in the downtown environment we see today. I think that history is one of the most important things that we've tried to get across over the years.

Quote
Leadership has come & gone for decades. DT hasn't been a warzone forever, and I personally know people that used to frequently visit downtown post consolidation. Things can change & they have. If you think consolidation is just a crutch, you are a part of the problem frankly. Think I'm wrong? Look up your examples and you'll find a much more robust system with much more effort on zoning & building policy. You also completely discount the complexities of dealing with wetlands. You also won't see PUD's like we do here, which quite literally indicates a failed zoning policy.

Downtown's decline has been an incremental one that began as far back as the 1940s. Everything that employed thousands of workers within a compact area, from the railroads and manufacturing companies, to the port and the loss of big companies like Independent Life, Gulf Life, Charter, Jacksonville Terminal Company, Jacksonville Shipyards, American Heritage Life, Barnett Bank, Florida National Bank, etc. have had an impact. As these places consolidated, reduced their workforce, relocated, etc., the economy they supported has declined, resulting in the loss of retailers, restaurants, department stores, hotels, etc. This loss has been supplemented with shortsighted public policy decisions such as incentivizing companies to relocate to the Southside and urban renewal of once super dense and walking neighborhoods like LaVilla. Today, there is no longer a critical mass to support a lot of things that people want to see and despite that, there's still a market of people still attracted to downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods. Reinvestment is a must and its going to have to be subsidized for some time until a critical mass of life and activity can be generated. There are several things at the local level that must be done, including overhauling our zoning code and better coordinating the efforts of COJ, the DIA, JTA and other entities to ensure that they all are swimming in the same direction to achieve a unified vision. Everything I've mentioned here will have to be addressed, regardless of the governmental structure or the growth rate of Florida's suburban counties (i.e. St. Johns is no different to Jax than what Lake and Osceola Counties are to Orlando).
"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

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 35031
    • Modern Cities
For the people that disagree..

Were you upset when our cities core office market moved to Baymeadows/Southside? Were you at the council meetings? That market is now twice the size of DT. What followed? Everything else. I can guarantee you that there was almost zero opposition.

We've talked extensively over the years about the subsidization of the Southside with federal, state and local dollars, at the expense of the preconsolidated city neighborhoods. Our local policies and public investment guide growth. Again, this is one of the major reasons why we should invest in our urban core schools, parks, streets, libraries, revamp zoning, etc. in a manner that increases infill growth opportunities within the urban core.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

Jax_Developer

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 598
Lake, I respect your opinions greatly. However, this is one where we just won't see eye to eye. There are zero legitimate arguments, in my opinion, that justify our consolidation from a planning & zoning standpoint, today. Zero. I don't necessarily need to be well versed in all of Jacksonville's history, which I do have an extreme interest in, to look at what is here today. Corporations don't leave for any reason, in fact they move when there are better opportunities. That is a failure of the consolidated government anyway you paint it.

Zero policy reform in 15+ years & a suburban office park that has been the catalyst for our growth for 20+ years... these are facts that can conclude some pretty basic pieces of information. It didn't happen overnight either. Just like Gateway, JTB was a catalyst project for the Skinner family. Their land instantly became worth a ton more & we see the outcome today. Rezoning is still happening 50 years later... I mean...

It would be one thing to address this, and correct course, but we are here debating on if suburbia has caused decline in DT...

Let's stop trying to recreate city economics that have been proven by research done on a national scale. Alex is literally here stating his target audience are the folks off 295/JTB...

(Lack of utilites is again a failure of the consolidated government, the single largest issue for developing existing urban neighborhoods.)
« Last Edit: June 12, 2024, 10:31:28 AM by Jax_Developer »

thelakelander

  • The Jaxson
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 35031
    • Modern Cities
Yes, like the jail issue, I'm pretty sure we're not going to see eye to eye on this one. No hard feelings!

Quote
It would be one thing to address this, and correct course, but we are here debating on if suburbia has caused decline in DT...

Let's stop trying to recreate city economics that have been proven by research done on a national scale. Alex is literally here stating his target audience are the folks off 295/JTB...

I can't express how many times I've already stated that there's a market downtown and in the urban core....we just don't have the housing supply. I'm actually one of the people Alex described as their market. When I moved to town, I had three days to find a place. Two days to look and decide and then attempt to secure a lease on the third day.

My desire was downtown and/or a walkable urban core neighborhood. What I was looking for (a townhouse or rowhouse) was not in existance. I ended up off Southside Boulevard that first year in town because that was the only area that had what I needed that was available that weekend. St. Johns was never an option (i.e. I won't have taken the job if I had to be that far out), but Southside worked because it was a 15 minute drive from where I needed to be.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2024, 11:10:17 AM by thelakelander »
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

Jax_Developer

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 598
Of course Lake. I'm glad there are different opinions out there than mine.

For reference, I for some reason chose to live DT! I'm certainly one of it's believers. I know you are too.

All my friends, who are under 30, live in suburbia apartment complexes lol.