Changing the Urban Landscape in 2016

In 2015, the amount of downtown redevelopment proposals kicked it up a notch. Looking forward to 2016, here are five projects and points of discussion that have the potential to "TransForm Jax".

Published January 4, 2016 in Urban Issues -

1. Tower Cranes Return to Downtown

We actually predicted this for 2015. Unfortunately, things go a lot slower in Jax than we would like. Beacon Riverside was put on ice and we never got off the pot with the Laura Trio. Nevertheless, there's at least two major projects that should get underway in 2016. Both, the Southbank's Baptist Health's Southbank Cancer Center and LaVilla's Houston Street Manor projects should start well before the end of the year.

2. Multiple Residential Projects Will Be Under Construction Simultaneously

It's been a long time since significant residential construction has taken place in the North and Southbanks.  Nearly a decade to be exact. 2016 will bring a welcoming end to this strange drought. Major residential projects on-line for 2016 include The District (formerly known as Healthy Town), Houston Street Manor and Broadstone Riverside.

3. Kings Avenue Will Become A Redevelopment Hotspot

Kings Avenue, between Prudential Drive and Atlantic Boulevard has long been one of the Southbank's and San Marco's most overlooked commercial corridors. With the continued advancement of the I-95 Overland Bridge project, which will include a full fledged interchange at Atlantic Boulevard and Philips Highway, we predict things will begin to change in 2016.

4. New Projects In Brooklyn Will Challenge The Influence Of The DDRB

The Downtown Development Review Board (DDRB) is responsible for reviewing and approving projects for compliance with the Downtown Master Plan and the Downtown Zoning Overlay. This means the design of all projects proposed in downtown must be approved by the DDRB before construction can begin. A second wave of new development projects will materialize in Brooklyn in 2016. However, expect more than one to not be exactly pedestrian friendly or urban. Thus, we'll find out if the DDRB really has the bite it takes to create a vibrant pedestrian friendly environment in the heart of the city.

5. Berkman II Will Move Forward Before The Landing And Shipyards Projects

Despite all the pretty renderings, local media coverage and public workshops, nothing will happen with the Jacksonville Landing and The Shipyards since city and the Landing's owner are at odds again and the Shipyards is an environmental disaster. On the other hand, Berkman II's skeleton is structurally sound and with the lawsuits behind it is believed that the tower can be completed as an 18-story apartment complex. In addition, Mayor Curry has already stated that his administration has its eye on addressing the skyline's eyesore. So with this one, we're going to go out on a limb and say that something with Berkman II may move forward before either of these long publicly debated projects materialize.

Editorial by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at

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Metro Jacksonville