Author Topic: Urban Infill: A Courthouse Square for Jacksonville?  (Read 15031 times)

thelakelander

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Re: Urban Infill: A Courthouse Square for Jacksonville?
« Reply #30 on: July 25, 2009, 01:41:45 PM »
Both of you, Vic and Lake are right on.

I don't think Met Park improvements right now are going to make a difference because we still haven't come up with a plan to connect this area with the rest of the urban core.  If we develop the Shipyards, incorporate residential units into the area, tear down the expressway between Liberty Street and the Hart Bridge, and add skyway/streetcar to connect the stadiums to the core, I guarantee the city would see the benefits of putting $20 million into Met Park.  But until the above happens, the park will continue to be neglected by the public.

Met Park is probably the worst public site to invest in right now, imo.  Short of maintaining what is already there and removing the fences, its too isolated to spend our limited dollars upgrading first.  One day, it will be better connected when the Shipyards is fully developed, but that may take another 20-30 years.  Who wants to wait that long for a vibrant waterfront to develop?

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I also agree that the city needs to pick one area to focus attention on.  Until we have one vibrant spot to use as a model, the city will continue it's back and forth growth.  One restaurant opens over here, another closes over there.  A building is built here, another one torn down there.  We aren't getting anywhere!!!  It's so frustrating!!!

This illustrates how spread out we are.  Everyone considers Baltimore's Inner Harbor to be a well planned and vibrant space.  However, people overlook how compact it is.  If this area were in DT Jax, it would fit between the Acosta Bridge and Berkman Plaza.

Baltimore Inner Harbor up close


Baltimore Inner City Aerial


Downtown Jacksonville Aerial (same scale with Inner Harbor overlay)


Imagine if we took the $26 million intended for Met Park and invested it on both sides of the river between the Acosta and Main Street Bridge?  With places like the TU Performing Arts Center, Omni, Landing, RCB, Friendship Park, MOSH, etc. already established, we'd have a head start in creating a vibrant district in the heart of the core.  Drop those $26 million in Met Park and all you will have is a nice spot for isolated short term events near the stadium.  Drop it in the heart of the core, in a way that better integrates what's already there, and you just may see people on the sidewalks on an around the clock basis.
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Overstreet

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Re: Urban Infill: A Courthouse Square for Jacksonville?
« Reply #31 on: July 29, 2009, 01:26:33 PM »
I think you'd eat that money up real quick building the Landing 800 space parking garage the city promised to build back in 1985 and haven't gotten around to it.

thelakelander

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Re: Urban Infill: A Courthouse Square for Jacksonville?
« Reply #32 on: July 29, 2009, 02:33:06 PM »
Yes, you would.  In 2004, it was estimated that a new garage would cost around $19.2 million.  However, $26 million would stretch pretty far, if used on minor "no-frills" projects that make our existing structures and landmarks better integrated with one another.  Examples of projects that don't have to be budget busters but pay off big time include:

A. Water Street Streetcar line (Prime Osborn to Bay/Newnan)



This stretch is roughly a mile.  A no-frills streetcar line could be as low as $5 million.  However, it would directly connect the convention center (future transporation center) with the Landing, Laura Street, Omni, Hyatt, TU Performing Arts Center and East Bay/Florida Theater.  It also gives the city the opportunity to use the Water Street garage for the Landing's additional parking requirments.  So for $5 million, you connect a good number of existing destinations with something that has the power to attract infill development on the surface lots in between.  Plus it serves as the initial segment of JTA's proposed streetcar system.


B. Friendship Fountain

It has been estimated by the city that it will cost $865,000 to fix Friendship Fountain.  Why not spend $2 -$3 million restoring the fountain and greening up the surrounding park to make it more attractive?  As time goes on and money is raised, future phases could include the redevelopment of MOSH, RCB and that massive surface parking lot to create a better civic space.


C. Jacksonville Landing Courtyard

No matter what people may think about the Landing or Toney Sleiman, it is downtown's top destination.  The city is already spending money to enhance Laura Street.  Why not revisit the idea of cutting a 60' wide corridor to connect Laura with the courtyard & the waterfront?  Doing this fully integrates the waterfront and courtyard with Laura Street and Hemming Plaza.  With a streetcar passing through at Independent & Laura, you now have the opportunity to open entertainment & dining activities in the Landing, up to the rest of downtown, thus spreading infill development north from the river.  As for completely redeveloping the Landing, that can come at a later date.


D. Connectivity



Shown above, Hogan Street Park would be an example of something that would better integrate nearby destinations with each other.  In this case, they would be the Landing, the river, Omni and the performing arts center.  The key to vibrancy is to set nearby spaces up in a manner that allows integrated activity and use on an around the clock basis.  Imagine if a forgotten strip of land like this in the heart of downtown was lined with entrances and outdoor dining from the spaces surrounding it?  How much would it cost to add sidewalks, a fountain, landscaping, outdoor seating and signage, that better integrates the surrounding uses with the space?  My guess, is that it would be far less than $26 million.

Anyway, I'm sure if we put our heads together, we could come up with more creative/affordable ideas that change the face and energy of the core rapidly, if there were $26 million to work with.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2009, 02:36:27 PM by thelakelander »
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Keith-N-Jax

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Re: Urban Infill: A Courthouse Square for Jacksonville?
« Reply #33 on: July 29, 2009, 02:48:42 PM »
$865, plus  to fix the fountain well $700 thou wasted on the mainstreet pocket park could have gone in that direction. This is why I have a problem with the city, they waste money and have poor decision making when it comes to proper planning yet they want more money to waste. Lake your last post make so much sense, but that's the problem, it makes sense.

Overstreet

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Re: Urban Infill: A Courthouse Square for Jacksonville?
« Reply #34 on: July 29, 2009, 03:39:33 PM »
The thing with adding a few sidewalks, grass, fountain and benches to the street between TUPAC and the Landing is what happens to the functions it now performs?  How does the dumpster truck access the compactor in the landing west compactor building? What takes over for the main entrance to the Terry Theater? How does the fire department access the fire truck access down the center of the Landing? .... the Riverwalk?  The back side of the TUPAC?  Where do the limos park during an event? 

Cutting a 60’ swath through the heart of the Landing gives many problems.  It takes out one of the escalators, the middle of the roof sign, and a large part of the food court . It reduces the rentable square footage of the building and kills spaces that always seem to be filled. Besides all that it creates structural problems for the building.    This would take a lot of the $26m.


I agree though that spending more on Metro park seems unnessary right now but I never go there any more to know what the current status is.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2009, 03:46:06 PM by Overstreet »

thelakelander

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Re: Urban Infill: A Courthouse Square for Jacksonville?
« Reply #35 on: July 29, 2009, 03:59:54 PM »
The thing with adding a few sidewalks, grass, fountain and benches to the street between TUPAC and the Landing is what happens to the functions it now performs?  How does the dumpster truck access the compactor in the landing west compactor building? What takes over for the main entrance to the Terry Theater? How does the fire department access the fire truck access down the center of the Landing? .... the Riverwalk?  The back side of the TUPAC?  Where do the limos park during an event?

If a decision were made to better integrate the uses, a discussion that resolves these issues could take place.  Without diving too much into the issue, a main walkway could be developed with a width that could accommodate special vehicle access (if needed).  Jacksonville is full of parking lots so some uses, such as limo parking, could be relocated.  As for the main entrance to the Terry Theater, the park/plaza would become the main entrance.


RAM is a great example of a public space designed for both pedestrian and vehicular use.  The same concept could be applied to accomodate service uses between the TU center and the Landing.

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Cutting a 60’ swath through the heart of the Landing gives many problems.  It takes out escalators, the middle of the roof sign, the entrance to the food court and that club up on the second floor. It reduces the rentable square footage of the building and kills spaces that always seem to be filled. Besides all that it creates structural problems for the building.    This would take a lot of the $26m.

I'll have to look into our archives, but I believe the original deal to open the courtyard was under $26 million.  Plans have already been drawn so, structural issues, etc. have been resolved.  Those plans could be dusted off, modified where needed and implemented under a public private partnership.  This would also benefit the Landing since the area that would come out is common space that can't be leased (excluding Karlene's, which could be located to one of the Landing's current vacant spots).  In the long run, such a move would make interior landing spaces more valuable (better visibility) while reducing the center's operations cost (less energy & expense to maintain non leasable areas).

In any event, even if opening the courtyard to Laura Street took the entire $26 million, it would still be a better public investment alone, than sinking it in to Metropolitan Park. While the Metropolitan Park plans are impressive, because the site is isolated, it will never be more than a seldom used green space that does not significantly contribute additional development and vibrancy in downtown.  Its isolation is something that can not be solved without significant redevelopment around the stadium, Commodore's Point and the Shipyards.  While this can happen, its probably 20 to 30 years down the road.

Whether its Friendship Fountain, enhancing mobility or the Northbank waterfront, dropping that same amount into something that enhances the usability and attractiveness of existing popular destinations and their immediate surroundings, will have a greater positive impact.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2009, 04:03:02 PM by thelakelander »
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Ocklawaha

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Re: Urban Infill: A Courthouse Square for Jacksonville?
« Reply #36 on: August 08, 2009, 10:53:29 AM »
I worry about the location of Monroe in front of the Courthouse, I already got lifted off my feet and slammed to the floor once, can anyone spell, OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBING? I was IN that Post Office! We first thought the air force (Tinker AFB / NAS) had dropped a B-1 bomber in the middle of the city. When some of us old fart Vietnam Vets shouted "NO!, THAT WAS A BOMB!" I realize it's a one in a million risk, but that millionth time is a true MF!

Decorative security walls? Blast dirverters? Note how the new Federal Courthouse has completely blocked the threat of a major explosion with planters, plazas, walks and stairs. IT'S ALL ABOUT SECURITY. Hell I live, breathe, eat and drink transportation, but I'm not real fond of Ryder Trucks.

I agree that the Mayors big idea, should be between Berkman and the Acosta Bridge (BTW, ACOSTA? WHERE THE HELL IS THE ORANGE PAINT?) That landing connection doesn't have to take out the middle of the sign, it wouldn't even have to take out the second floor. If we wanted that open connection it could be done like a castle gate with business on two sides and above.

How far would those millions go in establishing "The Jacksonville Stars," bronze statues on the Riverwalk? They cost around $10,000 each.

As for the Courthouse Green, bravo COJ, now "your finally using our brain." (Babe Hardy) The splash pond in front of the Nashville Courthouse is awesome. I'm amazed that as "The River City By The Sea," has so few water features.


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CS Foltz

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Re: Urban Infill: A Courthouse Square for Jacksonville?
« Reply #37 on: August 09, 2009, 06:31:27 PM »
Ock....you have a better idea of what should be going on downtown than the current Administration does! Not only have we wasted 16 Million Dollars to this point but we appear to be on track for another 230 Million. Somehow I just don't think that Mayor Johnny get the point. It is not prudent to make up a plan as you go along but to have one in place to start with! No one seems to take this into consideration , not to mention just how are we to pay for this edifice? I will not support another tax hike in anyway shape or form until the current Administration gets its financial house in order. The days of just writing checks to try and solve problems is over! The COJ can not afford to write any more checks that the public has to fund!

CS Foltz

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Re: Urban Infill: A Courthouse Square for Jacksonville?
« Reply #38 on: August 15, 2009, 07:39:41 PM »
Maybe we are just approaching the issue from the wrong direction. How about we just set some prefab bldgs on some barges the COJ can lease and anchor a new courthouse on the St Johns? That would be quick and easy and would not cost 230 Million Dollars. When the river turns green no worrys theres the lawn! Security would easy...power could come from shore units or run cables to each bldg! Cheap easy and quick!

urbanlibertarian

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Re: Urban Infill: A Courthouse Square for Jacksonville?
« Reply #39 on: August 15, 2009, 09:19:24 PM »
I believe each county is required by the state to provide county court facilities that meet standards.  CS, your standards might be lower than the state's and the judges'.
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CS Foltz

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Re: Urban Infill: A Courthouse Square for Jacksonville?
« Reply #40 on: August 16, 2009, 08:28:06 AM »
Your probably correct.....but trying to think outside of the box! No matter what edifice is erected it will be over  budget, mismanaged and the only ones who will make out will be those in the inner circle of power. You and I will get to pay for it. If the barge idea is out in left field.....there are plenty of mothballed ships that could be positioned anywhere along that section of river....tie it into the water street end and go from there. I just have reservations about how we are going to pay for Mayor Johnny's white elephant from hades! No public input.....no planning , other than outside interests as well as workers, no vision of what could be rather than what will be. This has a tendency to ruffle my feathers because this is a blatant example of ignoring common sense!

urbanlibertarian

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Re: Urban Infill: A Courthouse Square for Jacksonville?
« Reply #41 on: August 17, 2009, 04:48:33 PM »
I'm no fan of the federal government but I've got to admit they did a pretty good job on the federal courthouse.  A very functional building for a pretty good price.
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Dog Walker

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Re: Urban Infill: A Courthouse Square for Jacksonville?
« Reply #42 on: August 17, 2009, 05:30:53 PM »
And right behind it is going to be an architectural monstrosity that is so poorly planned that courthouse workers are going to need Segways to get from place to place in any reasonable amount of time.  It looks like an explosion in a column factory crossed with a shopping mall.  Are the judges afraid of heights?  Why couldn't they build UP?
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stjr

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Re: Urban Infill: A Courthouse Square for Jacksonville?
« Reply #43 on: August 17, 2009, 05:32:16 PM »
I'm no fan of the federal government but I've got to admit they did a pretty good job on the federal courthouse.  A very functional building for a pretty good price.

I agree.  Much of that is due to Uncle Sam going vertical.  Had we done this for the County, we would have something that is much better for Downtown AND cheaper for the taxpayers. Unfortunately, our pleas went ignored and unanswered.  I don't get it since it seems so obvious.

A future problem is that adding on to the County building will be difficult, but with a tower, one could have always built a second (or third, etc) tower on an adjacent block and connected them with a common ground floor and/or cross walks.  And, if the building is ever "sold" or abandoned, its adaptive reuse might be easier with a tower than an oddly designed government-style building.
Hey!  Whatever happened to just plain ol' COMMON SENSE!!