Author Topic: Greenville SC Developments  (Read 2647 times)

bl8jaxnative

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Re: Greenville SC Developments
« Reply #30 on: October 24, 2019, 09:50:26 AM »
When I visited Greenville recently, I noted that, unlike Jacksonville, they have renovated/repurposed many of their historic structures, built an active and accessible street-scape with unbroken rows of retail and restaurants, maximized green space on their waterfront and optimized using the waterfront as an attraction and focal point.  Considering their waterfront is mainly a mountain stream, they have done amazing things to get the most out of it.  The green space actually runs for quite a distance beyond the downtown creating their own version of an Emerald Trail.  Looks like they also run a free trolley up and down the main street.

What they've done with the concentration and focus on the river is the key part.  They've done such a good job you didn't notice that like any other downtown, they've torn down all sorts of big old buildings.   Just go over a couple blocks to the fancy schmancy Book Brothers and you're surrounded by modern bldgs and parking ramps.

Keep in mind that the rate of people in Greenville with bachelors and masters degrees is @50% higher than the US average and roughly twice that of Jacksonville.   Having people with money helps mucho-mucho in having that sort of downtown.

Kerry

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Re: Greenville SC Developments
« Reply #31 on: October 24, 2019, 01:07:48 PM »
When I visited Greenville recently, I noted that, unlike Jacksonville, they have renovated/repurposed many of their historic structures, built an active and accessible street-scape with unbroken rows of retail and restaurants, maximized green space on their waterfront and optimized using the waterfront as an attraction and focal point.  Considering their waterfront is mainly a mountain stream, they have done amazing things to get the most out of it.  The green space actually runs for quite a distance beyond the downtown creating their own version of an Emerald Trail.  Looks like they also run a free trolley up and down the main street.

What they've done with the concentration and focus on the river is the key part.  They've done such a good job you didn't notice that like any other downtown, they've torn down all sorts of big old buildings.   Just go over a couple blocks to the fancy schmancy Book Brothers and you're surrounded by modern bldgs and parking ramps.

Keep in mind that the rate of people in Greenville with bachelors and masters degrees is @50% higher than the US average and roughly twice that of Jacksonville.   Having people with money helps mucho-mucho in having that sort of downtown.

That is pretty surprising.  They have a number of colleges/universities but their total enrollment is about 1/2 of UNF.  They must attract a lot from Clemson and USC.

Just found this article about it.
https://greenvillejournal.com/2018/11/29/data-shows-most-alumni-from-sc-schools-stay-in-state-after-graduation/
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Snaketoz

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Re: Greenville SC Developments
« Reply #32 on: October 24, 2019, 08:03:15 PM »
I think a very short sentence can be used to explain our CBD's current condition.  It's so simple.  Just look at our mayor, our city council, and the heads of our local agencies.  (They are all the same and are beholden to big money donors)

Tacachale

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Re: Greenville SC Developments
« Reply #33 on: October 25, 2019, 01:55:09 PM »
I will suggest 4 significant things that have held Jax back over the decades...


This is well stated, but I'm going to push back on a few of these things.

It's true that the donor class has a lot of influence, but I can't imagine this is a problem unique to Jax. The low tax economy and sprawl-driven development certainly aren't unique to Jax, as it's the status quo for all of Florida. It's also one of the main drivers of growth, for better or worse. That said, Jacksonville is more averse to raising taxes to get our heads above water than Florida's other big cities, and our developers largely haven't focused on urban development without incentives. But it's worth pointing out that last time taxes were raised, the donor class supported it and it was the mayor, who had fallen out of favor with them, who fought it.

Tacachale, appreciate your measured response.  I will respond accordingly  8).

It's not about the donor class being unique to Jax.  It's about the compounding of decades of undue influence, the degree of influence and the consequences of same. 

If the donor class supported raising taxes, we would not have had recent mayors refusing to do so, Curry being the most steadfast of all of them (i.e. the trend has been worsening).  There were actually years when taxes were cut.  Where was the donor class you speak of then?  Do you see the Civic Council publicly pushing Curry to raise taxes as our City's infrastructure is literally crumbling (e.g. poorly maintained parks, road potholes proliferating, resiliency and drainage projects sidelined) right before our eyes?  Did the donor class push Curry to approve the School Board referendum or push for a small increase in today's real estate taxes to avoid kicking the pension can down the road at a multi-billion cost?  The silence of the donor class translates into support for keeping taxes low in my book.

Regarding developers, don't forget to include Khan and Rummell among them given their current projects.  You can bet Curry jumps when they tell him too.  One already got a bucket load of concessions and the other is about to get over $230 million more.  Imagine what those dollars could do if spread across all the needs of the greater citizenry (e.g northwest quadrant).  And, while developers have sway in other communities, I haven't found many communities that lay down as much as Jax does for their road building, wetlands and tree removal, destruction of historic buildings/neighborhoods and zoning requests.  Jax's foot-dragging on dealing with rising seas is another example of protecting developers by not hindering their development in vulnerable areas and/or making them incur even mildly higher costs for built-in resiliency.


The donor class - and average voters - favor a low tax environment in general, but there have been a number of examples of them supporting tax increases. Curry did raise a sales tax to fund his pension proposal, and the donor class and voters supported that - of course he claimed it wasn't a new tax but an "extension" of the BJP tax, but it wasn't. The last time millage taxes went up was in Brown's administration. The donor class favored raising the taxes, and Brown opposed it. This was after the point he had fallen out with the business Republicans (who had widely favored him earlier) and appeared to be trying to court Tea Party and more conservative voters, which obviously didn't work out for him. The City Council took the budget away from the mayor's office and raised taxes, and it was widely seen as necessary. Before that, John Peyton, after cutting taxes before the recession, raised them to where they were in the 1990s. That was supported as well (by the donor class; voters probably would never have elected him to anything else again).

Honestly I'd say the mayoral administrations are more the reason for taxes not being raised to meet needs than anything else. In fact, I expect that if a mayor came out with a plan to increase quality life or just get the city government functioning well again, the donor class would get behind it. Probably the voters too, considering 2/3 of them supported the pension sales tax.

You're 100% right that we give big concessions to developers, our planning is weak, and we're behind the 8 ball on sea level rise. I'd say that our tendency to chase "silver bullet" projects over getting the little things right is a big part of it.

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This is a stereotype that was likely more true in the past than it is now, or will be in the future. The demographics and political leanings of the population are shifting as large chunks of the older, white populace move to the surrounding counties and Duval gains and retains more ethnic minorities and young people.

Jax has had different "factions" for as long as the city has been here. There's a highly conservative "faction", but the business community is much more moderate and has been for decades. There's also the African-American community which makes up a third of the city. Overall the city has been far more purple than it's given credit for years now.

While I agree that the long term trend in Duval may be toward moderation, we are talking here only about the past leading up to the present (i.e how we got to where we are - or are not - today).  And, our past has definitely skewed conservative, including much of the business community.  There are also substantial elements of the African American community that skew conservative on certain social issues that touch on their religious values.  If the City was currently as moderate as you would suggest, we would not have seen such a knockdown drag out fight over the HRO or the City still voting overwhelmingly for conservative "red" candidates at the local level who regularly champion conservative issues.

I would also add that much of the donor class for Duval elections actually resides in those very red surrounding counties of St. Johns, Clay, Nassau and Baker.  Most who live in those counties make their living in Duval and are at the ready to assert their values on it.  Their interest can also be attributed to "investing" in Duval officials that may ultimately become State or Federal ones and/or surrounding interests wanting to load State and Federal legislative bodies with wide-area representatives aligned with their interests.

The city doesn't vote overwhelmingly red when given real options. Republicans dominate the government but that's due to gerrymandering and the failures of the Democratic party. Presidential elections tilt Republican but it's been coming closer to parity since 2008 - Clinton lost Duval by only a few thousand votes in 2016 and it's likely that in the next few elections, if not 2020, a Democrat will carry Duval. Duval went for Democrats in 3 of the 5 state races in 2018, including governor. Gerrymandered state and local districts, a much stronger operation, and the Democrats doing incomprehensible things like not running a mayoral candidate this year, are the reasons Republican continue to dominate the state and local government. But that's going to change as the demographics continue to shift. This is to say that while the political structure may be holding us back, the populace isn't.

The HRO is an interesting case. That was always supported by most residents and the entire business community. The reason the original version didn't pass in 2012 was that the Democratic mayor torpedoed it behind the scenes, against the wishes of the community and the nearly universal advice of the business community. Curry was certainly no supported but he didn't stand in the way of the council or the public's wishes.

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I don't think this all follows. It's also not true that the city is doing as poorly as is sometimes presented by critics. The city and metro area have experienced consistent growth for, well, ever, and there are a lot of successes all over town. Downtown still struggles but it's not like the city overall is stagnant or moving backward in any real sense.

As you say, however, we put a lot of stake in one-trick ponies promised to take us to the "next level". But not everything you list is an example of that - some were never promised to be "saviors" and others really were "game changing". What we do have is a lack of consistency and follow-through after we have a successful project or plan. That's certainly the biggest reason Downtown struggles.

I am not saying the City is going backwards or doing "poorly."  I am saying the City is falling behind like-cities that we traditionally consider our peers.  Our country's population has more than doubled over the last 60 to 70 years so every place is almost assured of some level of growth without doing much of anything.  The question isn't just about growth, but "smart" growth and quality of life.  Do we benchmark ourselves against the best or settle for falling to a lower tier due to mismanagement?

If you ask me, the biggest game changer in modern times was probably getting Mayo Clinic and that was almost entirely due to the actions of the Davis family, not some grand plan of leadership.  Mayo literally gave us a "world class" imprint that has rarely been achieved here.  The next closest such game changer in my book has been the Fidelity National move to Jax and the three current local Fortune 500 companies it has led too.  The catalyst for this move was an acquisition of a local company.  It's also interesting that, like Mayo, all of the Fidelity companies are mostly run by transplants, not homegrown managers.  Along with these companies, one home grown player that I believe has been a game changer in modern times is Florida Blue.  The have become a well run, leading edge player in their industry and a progressive contributor to the Jax community.  None of these "game changers" involved a city-wide cheerleading campaign to get them off the ground but were more organic in nature.

By the way, coincidentally, Nate Monroe just posted this column reviewing Jax's chase of Offshore Power Systems showing little has changed with "savior" projects:
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Power, money and influence have more than once nearly plunged JEA and the city of Jacksonville into crisis over hare-brained ideas.

COMMENTARY | The proposal was staggering: A powerhouse corporate partnership would pump $250 million into a big-ticket project in Jacksonville, where it would employ as many as 10,000 people — 90 percent of whom, the companies claimed, would be local. The economic impact would be a transformative $1.5 billion, touching the lives of not only the well-coiffed business class but also the working poor, who would receive specialized job training if they needed it to fill the glut of openings that were surely to come.

It was 1971, and Jacksonville was fresh off a civic triumph it would tout for decades to come: The city-county consolidation voters approved a few years earlier had in one fell swoop created the largest city by landmass in the continental United States, and one of the most populous. The business leaders who helped make this happen were ready to showcase this rejuvenated River City on a national stage — and to make money. This project, they believed, would accomplish both.

Those business leaders were wrong.

What that 1971 proposal would turn out to be instead was a phenomenal debacle and an embarrassment — a hare-brained idea to construct two nuclear power plants and float them in the middle of the St. Johns River near Blount Island, then to sell both plants to JEA, the city-owned electric authority, for $2.2 billion ($13.9 billion in today’s dollars). It wasn’t the city’s first high-profile success. It would be its first major failure — etching the contours of what would become the all-too-familiar Jacksonville story arc...

...Much about the way Jacksonville operated in the 1970s is recognizable today: “The entire political establishment in Jacksonville consists of a small group of businessmen who have grown rich together since World War II,” Rolling Stone writer Joe Klein wrote of the city in a 1976 story on the nuclear debacle.

https://www.jacksonville.com/news/20191023/nate-monroe-hucksters-came-after-jea---and-city---once-before-their-last-great-idea-was-floating-nuclear-power-plants

I don't have much to add here except that while a number of cities that were traditionally peers, like Charlotte, have surpassed us, we've also blown past places that used to be peers, like Birmingham, Greensboro or Grand Rapids. Other than urban redevelopment, we're holding our own with some peers like Nashville, Indianapolis and Raleigh-Durham, despite not having assets they have like several universities and state capitols.

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This is patently true. Though most urban school districts in Florida (and elsewhere) under-perform the suburban counties. This is also a major driver of Jacksonville's demographic changes.

I was not focused on under performance but rather under investment and lack of attention and prioritization so demographics are not really relevant to my point.  For what its worth, again, we are looking at the past, not the future, and in the past, most of our suburbs were in Duval County so the comparison to surrounding counties means little. 

In case you are wondering, one reason often given for us being late to the party of state institutions of higher learning (i.e. getting FSCJ and UNF), was that civic leaders believed having those institutions in Jax would harm the interests of JU.  That's clearly not the case today, but it is an example of our historical failure to realize the value of public education that has rippled to the present.

No disagreement from me on this point.

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Again, I wouldn't say we've been "held back". We're a much more vibrant, diverse and happening city than we were when I was growing up in the 80s and 90s. What I would say is that this has often had to happen in spite of what the city government is doing, and the lack of consistency and good leadership has kept Downtown in the doldrums and prevented us from reaching the potential we might otherwise have reached.

Your final comment here, that our successes are more in spite of local leadership, not because of it, echoes my conclusion.  Some "advancement" is inevitable as a result of national and global societal trends that rub off on our community given we are not living in a totally isolated bubble and have been heavily (and, to some of us, favorably) impacted by transplants from around the country and the world.  Are we at the tipping point that you suggest?  Time will tell.

I think we're definitely at a point where things will change. It's not clear how quickly that will be or if it will all be positive, but the face of the city is evolving rapidly whether the the powers that be are ready or not. Any war against time and demographics is unwinnable. I really hope the city adjusts.
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Kerry

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Re: Greenville SC Developments
« Reply #34 on: October 25, 2019, 03:06:21 PM »
I wouldn't be so quick to discard Grand Rapids.  They actually have quite a bit going on.  Not all developments on the attached list are in downtown Grand Rapids but a lot of them are.  I'm really interested to see what they come up with to restore the rapids downtown that gave the city its name.

https://www.experiencegr.com/about-grand-rapids/development/
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Tacachale

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Re: Greenville SC Developments
« Reply #35 on: October 25, 2019, 06:24:18 PM »
I wouldn't be so quick to discard Grand Rapids.  They actually have quite a bit going on.  Not all developments on the attached list are in downtown Grand Rapids but a lot of them are.  I'm really interested to see what they come up with to restore the rapids downtown that gave the city its name.

https://www.experiencegr.com/about-grand-rapids/development/

Grand Rapids is a great city, and there’s a lot Jax could learn from it. But in scale were on two totally different trajectories.
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?

Kiva

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Re: Greenville SC Developments
« Reply #36 on: October 25, 2019, 08:19:54 PM »
I wouldn't be so quick to discard Grand Rapids.  They actually have quite a bit going on.  Not all developments on the attached list are in downtown Grand Rapids but a lot of them are.  I'm really interested to see what they come up with to restore the rapids downtown that gave the city its name.

https://www.experiencegr.com/about-grand-rapids/development/

Grand Rapids is a great city, and there’s a lot Jax could learn from it. But in scale were on two totally different trajectories.
Grand Rapids may be a great city, but 5 months of the year with an average low temp below freezing, and 10 months of the year with a record low temp below freezing is not going to lure many Floridians!

Kerry

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Re: Greenville SC Developments
« Reply #37 on: October 25, 2019, 10:38:54 PM »
I wouldn't be so quick to discard Grand Rapids.  They actually have quite a bit going on.  Not all developments on the attached list are in downtown Grand Rapids but a lot of them are.  I'm really interested to see what they come up with to restore the rapids downtown that gave the city its name.

https://www.experiencegr.com/about-grand-rapids/development/

Grand Rapids is a great city, and there’s a lot Jax could learn from it. But in scale were on two totally different trajectories.

Are you talking about metro areas or the urban core?
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thelakelander

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Re: Greenville SC Developments
« Reply #38 on: October 25, 2019, 11:35:31 PM »
Probably MSA. Jax has 500,000 more people than Grand Rapids MSA. On the other than, the urban core of 2019 Grand Rapids has just as many people as the urban core of 1950 Jax. However, the urban core of Jax has declined 50% in population since then. So Grand Rapids does have a more vibrant urban core.
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Tacachale

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Re: Greenville SC Developments
« Reply #39 on: October 26, 2019, 08:29:10 AM »
Probably MSA. Jax has 500,000 more people than Grand Rapids MSA. On the other than, the urban core of 2019 Grand Rapids has just as many people as the urban core of 1950 Jax. However, the urban core of Jax has declined 50% in population since then. So Grand Rapids does have a more vibrant urban core.

Yes on both accounts. Metro Jax is also growing at a much faster rate, though Grand Rapids is pretty healthy for Michigan. Of course a lot of that is folks from the parts of the state that are declining moving there.
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?