Author Topic: Urban Construction Update - August/September 2020  (Read 1292 times)

thelakelander

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Urban Construction Update - August/September 2020
« on: September 28, 2020, 11:34:53 PM »
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A brief look at the status of various developments under construction in and around Downtown Jacksonville.

Full article: https://www.thejaxsonmag.com/article/urban-construction-update-augustseptember-2020/
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Bill Hoff

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Re: Urban Construction Update - August/September 2020
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2020, 08:05:22 AM »
A couple more things in the Springfield section - Springfield Preservation and Revitalization (SPAR) is beginning a 500k full renovation of their main street building, 1321 N. Main Street. JAA is the architect, Auld & White is the contractor, permitting now, should be hard hats working their very soon. The building was destroyed by Hurricane Irma 3 years ago, vacant ever since. When finished, the building will house SPAR's offices & records, be the hub of civic activity in the neighborhood once again, and will also offer a couple office spaces for lease.

Here's more info about the plans and capital campaign:
https://www.sparcouncil.org/buildingforthefuture

Also, the renovation of The District (2026 Walnut St) finished and it just opened this past weekend.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2020, 08:42:43 AM by Bill Hoff »

Ken_FSU

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Re: Urban Construction Update - August/September 2020
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2020, 04:27:38 PM »
RE: Brooklyn

Though Unity Plaza has failed to live up to the hype (or public subsidy) for all the reasons we've discussed here for years, every time I drive by and see all the development surrounding it, I can't help but think that this spot has the potential to be really cool if handled properly in the coming years.

Can't see the construction in the Google Earth aerial here, but you've got FIS's new headquarters directly across the street, Vista Brooklyn a block to the south, the new Residence Inn overlooking the Plaza directly to the East, The Hub Brooklyn right on the other side of Forest Street, the new Florida Blue garage (and foot traffic) just beside that, Lofts at Brooklyn a block away, etc.

Unity Plaza is kind of dead center to all this new development. And unlike something like Hemming Park where 90% of the surrounding uses are only open M-F, 9-5, you've got some real active uses around Unity Plaza (shopping, restaurants, residential, hotel, the Y, the Riverwalk), particularly when those four retail/restaurant components spring back to life at 220 Riverside.

I know we've got our downtown corridors that we're incentivizing in terms of restaurant development, but I'd love to see the city pitch in some incentives to lure a couple of high profile local chefs to the 220 spots, along with a local coffee shop and brewery. Program the park as was originally intended, and I think things would go a lot differently here in a year or two.


Steve

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Re: Urban Construction Update - August/September 2020
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2020, 04:50:56 PM »
RE: Brooklyn

Though Unity Plaza has failed to live up to the hype (or public subsidy) for all the reasons we've discussed here for years, every time I drive by and see all the development surrounding it, I can't help but think that this spot has the potential to be really cool if handled properly in the coming years.

Can't see the construction in the Google Earth aerial here, but you've got FIS's new headquarters directly across the street, Vista Brooklyn a block to the south, the new Residence Inn overlooking the Plaza directly to the East, The Hub Brooklyn right on the other side of Forest Street, the new Florida Blue garage (and foot traffic) just beside that, Lofts at Brooklyn a block away, etc.

Unity Plaza is kind of dead center to all this new development. And unlike something like Hemming Park where 90% of the surrounding uses are only open M-F, 9-5, you've got some real active uses around Unity Plaza (shopping, restaurants, residential, hotel, the Y, the Riverwalk), particularly when those four retail/restaurant components spring back to life at 220 Riverside.

I know we've got our downtown corridors that we're incentivizing in terms of restaurant development, but I'd love to see the city pitch in some incentives to lure a couple of high profile local chefs to the 220 spots, along with a local coffee shop and brewery. Program the park as was originally intended, and I think things would go a lot differently here in a year or two.



My feeling - we were somehow able to fill in the retention pond for the new Florida Blue Garage. Can we figure out a way to fill in the retention pond there and RFP the thing, creating a plaza in the center of another U shaped building?

Sorry, the idea of a plaza that's got roads on 3 sides (two of which are not exactly screaming pedestrian scale) isn't hugely appealing. Instead, given that it's a very visible corner from a traffic perspective, build something with retail facing out towards the street (windows to showcase what's going on inside) AND in towards a small plaza where you could put outside seating. You likely wouldn't then need to program it; the "programming" would be the sense of place with different uses.

thelakelander

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Re: Urban Construction Update - August/September 2020
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2020, 04:58:32 PM »
The retention pond in the middle of it and the width of Riverside Avenue and Forest Street pretty much limit the amount of vibrancy that can take place in Unity Plaza. Keep building the density of Brooklyn back up though. I kind of see Park Street developing into the vibrant strip once its reconstruction is complete. Unity Plaza will likely become a pass through, not that there's anything wrong with that.
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marcuscnelson

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Re: Urban Construction Update - August/September 2020
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2020, 05:29:03 PM »
RE: Brooklyn

Though Unity Plaza has failed to live up to the hype (or public subsidy) for all the reasons we've discussed here for years, every time I drive by and see all the development surrounding it, I can't help but think that this spot has the potential to be really cool if handled properly in the coming years.

Can't see the construction in the Google Earth aerial here, but you've got FIS's new headquarters directly across the street, Vista Brooklyn a block to the south, the new Residence Inn overlooking the Plaza directly to the East, The Hub Brooklyn right on the other side of Forest Street, the new Florida Blue garage (and foot traffic) just beside that, Lofts at Brooklyn a block away, etc.

Unity Plaza is kind of dead center to all this new development. And unlike something like Hemming Park where 90% of the surrounding uses are only open M-F, 9-5, you've got some real active uses around Unity Plaza (shopping, restaurants, residential, hotel, the Y, the Riverwalk), particularly when those four retail/restaurant components spring back to life at 220 Riverside.

I know we've got our downtown corridors that we're incentivizing in terms of restaurant development, but I'd love to see the city pitch in some incentives to lure a couple of high profile local chefs to the 220 spots, along with a local coffee shop and brewery. Program the park as was originally intended, and I think things would go a lot differently here in a year or two.

Ken, you've arrived again at the classic problem in Jacksonville that has been decades in the making: either an inability or unwillingness on the part of local leadership to actually attempt driving the bus on urban core development. Instead we keep gambling millions on "game-changer" Shipyards and Districts and demolishing half of downtown in the hopes that it'll just fix everything instead of making smaller focused investments like everyone else. If I were Curry, I'd never say "game changer" ever, because if we're in that mentality we seem almost guaranteed to screw it up. Then again, if I were Curry, I wouldn't have demoed the Landing or the Ford on Bay.

My feeling - we were somehow able to fill in the retention pond for the new Florida Blue Garage. Can we figure out a way to fill in the retention pond there and RFP the thing, creating a plaza in the center of another U shaped building?

Sorry, the idea of a plaza that's got roads on 3 sides (two of which are not exactly screaming pedestrian scale) isn't hugely appealing. Instead, given that it's a very visible corner from a traffic perspective, build something with retail facing out towards the street (windows to showcase what's going on inside) AND in towards a small plaza where you could put outside seating. You likely wouldn't then need to program it; the "programming" would be the sense of place with different uses.


I was under the impression that Unity's pond is at least part of why we could fill in the Florida Blue pond. Also, maybe it's just me, but it seems like for that kind of money, you'd be better off focusing somewhere you don't have to fill in a pond.

The retention pond in the middle of it and the width of Riverside Avenue and Forest Street pretty much limit the amount of vibrancy that can take place in Unity Plaza. Keep building the density of Brooklyn back up though. I kind of see Park Street developing into the vibrant strip once its reconstruction is complete. Unity Plaza will likely become a pass through, not that there's anything wrong with that.

Right, there are certainly places doing worse than Brooklyn.
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Ken_FSU

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Re: Urban Construction Update - August/September 2020
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2020, 08:02:25 PM »
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The retention pond in the middle of it and the width of Riverside Avenue and Forest Street pretty much limit the amount of vibrancy that can take place in Unity Plaza... Unity Plaza will likely become a pass through, not that there's anything wrong with that.

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Sorry, the idea of a plaza that's got roads on 3 sides (two of which are not exactly screaming pedestrian scale) isn't hugely appealing. Instead, given that it's a very visible corner from a traffic perspective, build something with retail facing out towards the street (windows to showcase what's going on inside) AND in towards a small plaza where you could put outside seating. You likely wouldn't then need to program it; the "programming" would be the sense of place with different uses.

There are definite issues with space and configuration, and in a perfect world we'd make some changes like those listed above, but that doesn't mean it can't be a vibrant space that people want to hang out at in the interim with a little TLC.

If you remember, even four or five years ago when Unity Plaza first opened, it was surprisingly active for a few months until the company in charge of programming it up and vanished. Concerts. Exercise classes. Kids events.

It was a lovely little spot that people were pretty excited about until Plaza management shit the bed and hung the restaurants out to dry in terms of programming.















It'll never be Jacksonville's Central Park, as the city was duped into believing, but I think referencing the space as just a retention bond is a little too dismissive of its potential. When maintained, it's a really pretty spot, with increasingly interesting and active surroundings as construction concludes. Hell, if a dump like Pussers can be popular in a less vibrant area on the back of a retention pond, I don't see a reason Unity Plaza can't. Gross, right:



I mentioned in the above post incentivizing top local chefs to open up in the restaurant spots, but thinking it through, I think it makes more sense to have fast-casual/casual in these spots. Places that the people living nearby and workers from the nearby office towers would want to frequent on a more regular basis. Generic, but a Starbucks with outside seating would go really far here, or an M-Shack, or like a Metro Diner.

Even something simple like placing tables with umbrella shades around the pond and maybe allowing food trucks around the perimeter would be cool to see in terms of encouraging more people to use a space that we've already dumped a lot of money into.

Or buying a dozen of those goofy swan pedalboats that the kids love and renting them out for families.



Just because it's failed in the past doesn't mean we shouldn't try to put the pig in some lipstick.

thelakelander

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Re: Urban Construction Update - August/September 2020
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2020, 09:22:06 PM »
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but a Starbucks with outside seating would go really far here, or an M-Shack, or like a Metro Diner.

They would be great for Unity Plaza but all three are examples that would likely go into Vista Brooklyn, FIS or TIAA Bank before Unity Plaza because of the lack of visibility and available dedicated off-street parking.  Hopefully, these spaces and the plaza will become a more viable destination as more density fills in around it. On the programming, the entity running it wasn't financially sustainable. So on that end, a different solution may be needed to ensure consistent programming in the future.
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jaxjags

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Re: Urban Construction Update - August/September 2020
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2020, 05:21:24 PM »
Not to make light of this topic (as I agree with Ken), but dang, can we get a real outdoor skating rink in the winter?

jaxlongtimer

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Re: Urban Construction Update - August/September 2020
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2020, 06:25:38 PM »
I am thinking more informal eating spots and a bar (maybe with some outdoor live music) that caters to the casual and impulsive pedestrian since parking is limited.  Adding a two-way escalator wouldn't hurt either to encourage street level foot traffic to "come on up."  Should offer a covered outdoor food court (with fans/misters/heaters/ wind curtains) for all-weather/COVID use.

Eating spots might be "fast" pizza, gourmet hot dogs and burgers, a taco stand, salad bar, a low brow "deli", an ice cream, smoothie and/or gelato spot and a small bakery with a covered outdoor food court.  Cheap, fast, simple, easy, something for everyone.  Can add some "sidewalk" vendors on the weekend or holidays selling handmade arts and crafts.

FYI, one of the neatest "street" things I have seen in a tourist street scene is a candle steet-side stand that allowed you to pick various designs/local scenes and then made a custom candle while you watched an artisan melt the wax, mix the colored (u-pick-em) layers and carve the final design.  Great souvenirs of your adventure.  Total time about 15 to 20 minutes.  You could watch or go get something to eat and come back.  The line of customers never stopped all day.  Interestingly, it is an operation of a Florida based company: http://globalcandlegallery.com/
« Last Edit: October 01, 2020, 01:23:14 PM by jaxlongtimer »

Steve

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Re: Urban Construction Update - August/September 2020
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2020, 10:55:13 AM »
Just because it's failed in the past doesn't mean we shouldn't try to put the pig in some lipstick.

Well, Curry would say we should pay $25M to demolish it. Let's do that.

In all seriousness, I do agree we need to figure out a way to salvage the place.

thelakelander

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Re: Urban Construction Update - August/September 2020
« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2020, 12:19:46 PM »
I wouldn't dump a dime into right now. I'd let some of the proposed developments in the vicinity get completed and revisit in two or three years.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

Captain Zissou

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Re: Urban Construction Update - August/September 2020
« Reply #12 on: October 05, 2020, 12:55:35 PM »
So what happened to the Florida Blue garage on Forest street.  Wasn't it supposed to have retail on the south side?

Also, was the plan to put office on the YMCA parking lot fronting Riverside Ave ever legitimate? 

thelakelander

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Re: Urban Construction Update - August/September 2020
« Reply #13 on: October 05, 2020, 01:32:53 PM »
The Florida Blue garage was just designed to potentially accommodate retail at some point in the future. A building could fit on the YMCA parking lot but I have no idea of if that will ever happen.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali