Author Topic: Riverfront Parks Now for Jacksonville  (Read 1513 times)

thelakelander

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Riverfront Parks Now for Jacksonville
« on: July 31, 2020, 08:26:51 AM »
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All great cities have great parks. A new citizen-led initiative consisting of representatives from various non-profit organizations including Scenic Jacksonville, the Late Bloomers Garden Club, The Garden Club of Jacksonville, Greenscape and St. Johns Riverkeeper would like to add Jacksonville to the list of great cities. Here is a look at their Riverfront Parks Now presentation for the downtown waterfront. Let us know what you think.


Read More: https://www.thejaxsonmag.com/article/riverfront-parks-now-for-jacksonville/
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Captain Zissou

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Re: Riverfront Parks Now for Jacksonville
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2020, 10:12:19 AM »
This is great, but unless the city gives away the land and has no further involvement, I have zero faith in this succeeding.  Anything our city government touches turns to rubble and ash.

Steve

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Re: Riverfront Parks Now for Jacksonville
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2020, 12:38:41 PM »
Well they already own the land. Now, I'd personally consider the Shipyards separate from the Landing Site. I think you can develop a portion of the site, have a plaza in front of the site, and keep some greenspace (I still think the Landing demo was stupid but it's done now).

The Shipyards on the other hand has been this horrendous albatross of a development site for an eternity. The biggest issue is surrounding building stock to make the area vibrant. The Maxwell House complex is certainly busy and occupied 24x7 but it's not the most inviting building as of now. The Police Station and Jail are, well...

On the East end however you have Intuition which is certainly nice.

Measuring the Shipyards from Berkman II to Georgia Street (one block east of SPR/Intuition), it's just over 25 Acres.  Metro Park is just over 18 Acres so in terms of a Land Swap to let Khan develop Metro Park it would work.

That also leaves one block of Riverfront that could be flexible - Khan could develop it down the road and for now it could be part of the park. To be clear I think it's a stupid location for a Convention Center but if he wants to develop it then fine. I think the economics of him developing that could be better than Lot J as with Lot J you have to make up for the parking or do the stupid parking deck over the retention pond that also contains the wires holding up the Channel 12 Antenna.

At this point I'd actually be fine with it. Now....a park is more than just sod. You actually have to develop it. They are right that it could be a legacy project, as long term the Jail will move and so will the Police Station (neither are anywhere near imminent obviously)

If Curry really wants to set the groundwork for a Legacy project (now that he doesn't have the JEA money to spend), this actually could be it.

Ken_FSU

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Re: Riverfront Parks Now for Jacksonville
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2020, 01:18:14 PM »
Interesting idea, but this city has struggled for FIFTEEN YEARS to figure out how to make a half-acre pocket park one-block from the city center work (it's since been fenced off with orange plastic for like two years) and we can't even get City Council to approve a $13 increase in property taxes.

Would rather 100% of the city's focus and budget be concentrated on creating best-in-class public spaces at the Landing site (with mixed-use) and Times-Union Center lawn, Friendship Park, and even Hemming. Quality over quantity. With what currently exists at Met Park, the Shipyards, Ford on Bay, and the Landing site, we can already kind of get an idea of what the city's low budget, lightly-hardscaped "riverfront park system" might look like. It sure won't be Grant Park.






thelakelander

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Re: Riverfront Parks Now for Jacksonville
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2020, 01:30:09 PM »
My company did much of the Chicago Riverwalk and the street (Wacker Drive) above it. Here are a few images from one of my pre-pandemic trips to the corporate office:













All of this stuff takes big time planning and a full financial commitment. Two big things Jax lacks when it comes to downtown period. Even St. Pete just dumped $92 million into a pier. Unfortunately, we're still worried about how to spend a measly $600k in a downtown park where we're debating if it should have trees, benches and any plantings other than grass. God forbid someone propose a public restroom. In short, it's never been rocket science. But we have to be willing to spend the money on first class. One last thing about the majority of parks in the presentation. Big or small, they're all popular and interactive because they're mixed use at the pedestrian scale.
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Steve

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Re: Riverfront Parks Now for Jacksonville
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2020, 01:57:52 PM »
All of this stuff takes big time planning and a full financial commitment. Two big things Jax lacks when it comes to downtown period. Even St. Pete just dumped $92 million into a pier. Unfortunately, we're still worried about how to spend a measly $600k in a downtown park where we're debating if it should have trees, benches and any plantings other than grass. God forbid someone propose a public restroom. In short, it's never been rocket science. But we have to be willing to spend the money on first class. One last thing about the majority of parks in the presentation. Big or small, they're all popular and interactive because they're mixed use at the pedestrian scale.

Thanks for bringing us back to reality:)

Yes, I do agree. If we make it hard to spend less than $1 on already cleared land, then we're going to struggle.

Tacachale

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Re: Riverfront Parks Now for Jacksonville
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2020, 02:15:20 PM »
My company did much of the Chicago Riverwalk and the street (Wacker Drive) above it. Here are a few images from one of my pre-pandemic trips to the corporate office:













All of this stuff takes big time planning and a full financial commitment. Two big things Jax lacks when it comes to downtown period. Even St. Pete just dumped $92 million into a pier. Unfortunately, we're still worried about how to spend a measly $600k in a downtown park where we're debating if it should have trees, benches and any plantings other than grass. God forbid someone propose a public restroom. In short, it's never been rocket science. But we have to be willing to spend the money on first class. One last thing about the majority of parks in the presentation. Big or small, they're all popular and interactive because they're mixed use at the pedestrian scale.

We've spent or will spend approximately $60 million on the demolitions of the Landing, Courthouse, City Hall Annex, and Hart Bridge ramps alone. Simply not doing those things would have put us well on the way to affording a nice space of the caliber of the St. Pete Pier - or many other things besides some lawns.
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?

thelakelander

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Re: Riverfront Parks Now for Jacksonville
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2020, 04:08:42 PM »
Was back home visiting family two weeks ago. Here's a map what was incrementally done to build a park around Lake Mirror in Lakeland. A place significantly smaller than Jax and with smaller funding pots for nice public spaces.



Some pictures from this scene on a random weekday evening:

















Hard to believe this space used to be a FDOT one-way pair of roads in the early 2000s.


"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: Riverfront Parks Now for Jacksonville
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2020, 04:18:23 PM »
Lake Eola Park in Downtown Orlando (November 2019)













"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: Riverfront Parks Now for Jacksonville
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2020, 04:25:16 PM »
How about Kissimmee? It's up to around 70,000 residents and recently invested in a $30.7 million, 25-acre park of its own that's within walking distance of its Amtrak/Sun Rail commuter rail station:









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

Ken_FSU

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Re: Riverfront Parks Now for Jacksonville
« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2020, 05:10:42 PM »
^So depressing, not only in terms of how far behind we are some of our sister cities, but also how bleak our prospects are of catching up anytime soon.

For the St. Pete, Orlando, Lakeland, and Kissimmee examples, how were they funded?

Just traditional, public capital improvement projects?


jaxlongtimer

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Re: Riverfront Parks Now for Jacksonville
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2020, 05:58:12 PM »
I have long advocated for using all the waterfront downtown we can obtain for green space so I am excited to hear about these efforts now.  If this land gets developed, it could be lost for up to 100 years or more (unless a rising river, thanks to JPA dredging and rising seas, reclaims it first) to be used as public space.

The many benefits of waterfront green spaces include:
1. Being a recreational amenity for downtown residents, workers and visitors
2. Providing an access to the river
3. Serving as a tourist attraction
4. Being a focal point and an identifier
5. Creating an environmental asset
6. Acting as an economic driver
7. Providing a gathering space/event venue (where will we gather tens or hundreds of thousands for events over the coming decades in the urban core?)
8. Serving as a cultural and educational attraction
9. Playing a role in resiliency to flooding (see Irma's impact on Downtown)

The value of all these benefits far outstrips developing it for boxy, nondescript apartments, condos, hotels or office buildings.  All of those can still be built a block or two "behind" the green space and, with unobstructed views of the river plus the green space amenities, will be just as, or more, valuable, than building at the edge of the river.

Here is an excerpt from a post of mine from 2018:

The biggest oversight is not having large acreage of green space downtown along the waterfront.  We are about to develop our only once-in-a-lifetime City controlled "acreage" along the waterfront (JEA and the Shipyards/Metro Park) into multi-use developments.  Where will there ever be a chance again for a within-walking distance "regional" park both along the waterfront and in the urban core?  Will people be attracted to downtown living without such green spaces (Private developers of scale play up their green spaces as a top amenity for living in the developments they build so you know this is what people want where they live!).

As to funding, we should have a dedicated millage on our property taxes to pay for developing and maintaining park space.  Notably, the City Council and Mayor just passed up millions of dollars in added revenues by not passing even the smallest of millage increases for the upcoming budget cycle even though we have plenty of unfunded needs.  With one of the lowest tax rates among the major cities in the State, there is surely room to raise the millage rate while remaining "competitive."  Not funding quality of life items will more than offset the advantage of lower taxes.  Not many people want to live on the cheap for decades at a time.

thelakelander

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Re: Riverfront Parks Now for Jacksonville
« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2020, 06:56:12 PM »
^So depressing, not only in terms of how far behind we are some of our sister cities, but also how bleak our prospects are of catching up anytime soon.

For the St. Pete, Orlando, Lakeland, and Kissimmee examples, how were they funded?

Just traditional, public capital improvement projects?



Kissimmee's park was funded through sales tax. Estimated at $34 million, it came in under budget at $30 million. Here's a good photo article of Kissimmee's park when it opened in 2015:

https://activerain.com/blogsview/4591343/-30m-lakefront-park-renovation-in-kissimmee-florida--lots-of-pics--

St. Pete's came from a variety of sources but a major chunk of it was TIF funding. Lakeland's park was over a 10 to 15 year span. It came via a mix of different funding pots, including working with FDOT to create an "intown bypass" allowing them to take over maintaining responsibility for one-way pairs Main and Lemon Streets. Private money also was used to fund certain features such as Hollis Gardens. Lakeland is in the midst of building a much larger park on the other side of downtown on what used to be an abandoned railyard. 160 acres, privately funded:

https://bonnetspringspark.com/



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LAKELAND, FL – Local philanthropists are developing a new 160+ acre, privately-funded urban park between West Memorial Boulevard and George Jenkins Boulevard on the east side of Lake Bonnet for the residents and visitors of Lakeland. The planned project – called Bonnet Springs Park –  will reside on the former CSX railyards and adjoining historic parcels that once occupied this tract.

This park venture is a 501(c)(3) corporation – d/b/a Windsong Park, Inc. – is comprised of local visionaries including the Barnett Family – Barney, Carol & sons Wesley and Nicholas – long-time Lakeland commercial real estate broker David Bunch, and recently retired Lakeland Parks and Recreation Director Bill Tinsley.

The team has been busy assembling the total approximate 200-acre parcels, which includes the former CSX railyards, the former Florida Tile site, and a dozen other adjacent properties. The current plan is to restore the two industrial land areas and enable them to return to a productive use.  The Florida Tile site – which is not planned as part of the park –  will be cleaned up, revitalized and reintroduced to the market place as a high density, quality mixed-use development comparable with the proposed park to support Lakeland’s downtown needs. Proceeds from the sale of this development will be put back into the Bonnet Springs Park project.

“Great cities have great parks,” said Bunch. “Lakeland is fortunate to already have a tremendous park system, but in just 50 years, we will experience a population of one million.  When we sat down with Carol & Barney Barnett and shared our vision for the prime 160-acre vacant site, they immediately determined that this was the time and place to ensure our city could have a great park within walking distance of downtown.”

“Lakeland needs an incredible green space to improve its residents’ lives by bringing them closer to nature, providing an educational experience, and offering multiple avenues for family enjoyment and entertainment,” said Barney Barnett. “We have a remarkable park system around the city, but this new endeavor will be like nothing our residents and visitors have ever seen here, both in scale and possibility.  Through these property acquisitions, the group intends to initiate this project, and with the community’s support, to develop this area into a regional park for current and future generations.”

“The land has historically been earmarked and used for industrial purposes, and this is our opportunity to reclaim it, reverse the environmental impact, and transform it into one of the great suburban landscapes in the country,” said Bunch. “This is a legacy project for our region and one that will provide economic, environmental and community benefits for many years to come. This endeavor will take our city to the next level in a big way.”

Proposed plans for Bonnet Springs Park include nature trails, an amphitheater, multiple playground areas, historically-themed areas, miniature trains, botanical gardens, bike paths, public art displays and much more. The park is slated to open by 2020.

“This undertaking is one that our family is particularly passionate about,” said Nicholas Barnett. “Our intention in this project is to help improve the quality of life for the community, while also improving the economic well-being of the city. We hope that in collaborating with the community, this new park will benefit Lakeland for many generations to come.”

The leaders behind the project aim to make the park financially self-sufficient for management and maintenance.

“Developing a park as a non-profit venture sets a new paradigm for design, development and management of a public park for our community,” said Tinsley. “One of the main reasons for utilizing private funding is to ensure we can effectively and swiftly bring this urban park vision to life without putting stress on the City of Lakeland’s resources, all the while exponentially improving the quality of life for our community.”

“The park system in this country serves as the gateway to healthier, happier, more prosperous lives,” said Wesley Barnett. “Bonnet Springs Park will not only improve our community and surrounding areas, but it will also become the model for other communities to follow in the future.”



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Following its closure in the early 1980s, Lakeland’s nearly century-old railyard operation, once the largest in Florida, left a deep environmental footprint. The property, located between West Memorial Boulevard and George Jenkins Boulevard on the east side of Lake Bonnet, languished for nearly forty years, forgotten by most Lakelanders, until a group of community investors and developers united to repurpose the historic site. Through the collaboration of local developer David Bunch, retired Lakeland Parks and Recreation Director Bill Tinsley, and Carol and Barney Barnett, the purchase of the railyard and more than a dozen adjoining properties were acquired, and master planning and design began in 2016.

Recovering these important lands with skill and purpose, and preparing to develop them, required all of the competence that could be marshalled. To meet these challenges, the team partnered with world-renowned architectural and park planning group Sasaki. The Boston-based firm put our vision into reality, designing a unique space that will provide opportunities for all Lakelanders.

Contamination remediation site work began in April 2019, unearthing the ecological impacts of the railroad’s steam and coal era’s transition to diesel locomotives. Each era from railroad’s history had contributed a unique footprint. In 2021, Bonnet Springs Park will open its doors for the community to experience a world-class park on a beautiful, flourishing property within walking distance of Downtown Lakeland. Ambitious in scale, Bonnet Springs Park will present natural beauty and a wide array of activities that invite visitors to “Escape. Engage. Explore.”
« Last Edit: July 31, 2020, 06:59:24 PM by thelakelander »
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Fallen Buckeye

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Re: Riverfront Parks Now for Jacksonville
« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2020, 07:17:42 PM »
Surprised there was no mention of the Scioto Mile in Columbus in the presentation. They removed a dam which created 125 acres of riverfront property in the heart of their downtown. About $40 million in private/public went into it, and now it's really transformed their downtown.

https://www.sciotomile.com/

thelakelander

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Re: Riverfront Parks Now for Jacksonville
« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2020, 07:21:17 PM »
While I'm pouring it on, here's Waterfront Park in San Diego. It surrounds the San Diego County Administration Center (pics from 2018).  12-acres, $50 million park that replaced a large surface parking lot. You got to be willing to leave the hot dog stand and work your way onto the field if you really want to be in the major leagues. Otherwise, let's stop using terms like world class, gamechanger and transformational to describe downtown public projects. All of what you've seen in this post, previous posts and even in the Riverfront Parks Now presentation are becoming the norm. We're the exception.

https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/business/growth-development/sdut-county-waterfront-park-opening-2014may06-htmlstory.html























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