“$1.1 billion riverfront master plan proposed for downtown Jacksonville”

“$1.1 billion riverfront master plan proposed for downtown Jacksonville”

Photo: Gallery in Jacksonville Daily Record
“Jacksonville developer Steve Atkins says he wants to lead a nearly $1.1 billion redevelopment of mostly city-owned property, including the former Jacksonville Landing, on a stretch of the Downtown Northbank riverfront.

At an invitation-only event June 1 at the Florida Theatre, Atkins presented his ‘Riverfront Jacksonville’ redevelopment plan for about 25 acres along the St. Johns River.

Atkins, who is SouthEast Development Group LLC managing director, says he will try to persuade the city and Downtown Investment Authority to pay for $536 million in a public-private partnership to build 1.8 million square feet of space from the former Jacksonville Landing to the former Duval County Courthouse and old City Hall site, rebranded in 2020 by DIA as The Ford on Bay.

City buy-in

As of May 28, DIA staff and Mayor Lenny Curry’s administration have seen all of SouthEast’s master plan work, according to Atkins.

It is unclear if city officials are willing to accept Atkins’ request for about $500 million in tax money.

Atkins said Goldman Sachs and Piper Sandler together committed to financing the estimated $1.1 billion upfront if the city agrees to an incentives package to repay its share over time…

With all but 2.5 acres targeted as publicly owned, Atkins also would have to convince city officials to change or integrate taxpayer-backed development plans active on the riverfront…

The city also awarded nearly $375,000 in stipends to three national firms in March for a competition to design a 4.5-acre public park at the former Landing site with a selection expected in October.

The DIA and city have renamed the site Riverfront Plaza. DIA CEO Lori Boyer said a plan to put the remaining land on the market for private development after park construction is underway.

Atkins said SouthEast’s team recognizes the park competition but did not commit to keeping the design selected by the DIA should the city agree to work with him.

‘I’m hoping that some of the best (park) ideas are things that we might be able to collaborate with folks on in this plan,’ Atkins said…

Next steps

A spokesperson for Atkins said SouthEast said in a May 30 email the company plans to formally approach the DIA in July with a development proposal.”

— Mike Mendenhall, Jacksonville Daily Record
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For a gallery of renderings of Riverfront Jacksonville, click here

Legislative Alert: Florida bills could bar local government design review and authority for residential buildings

Legislative Alert: Florida bills could bar local government design review and authority for residential buildings

“One of 1000 Friends’ foundational priorities is to help build better communities in Florida.

But SB 284 /HB 55, entitled Building Design, would take yet another tool away from local governments. This legislation seeks to remove local government authority to regulate building design in many areas, although designated local historic districts, Community Redevelopment Authority (CRA) districts, and Planned Unit Developments (PUDs) are exempt.

The bill would:

• Take away the authority of local governments to work with citizens to protect the character of certain neighborhoods and districts important to the community’s character.

• Undermine local economic development efforts that capitalize on the unique character of distinctive areas in the community.

• Remove the ability of neighborhoods and local governments to promote neighborhood reinvestment through maintaining neighborhood character.”

— 1000 Friends of Florida

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National Award: “Selby Lights in Bloom returns for open-air holiday show in Sarasota”

National Award: “Selby Lights in Bloom returns for open-air holiday show in Sarasota”

Photo: Mike Lang, Sarasota Herald-Tribune
“Florida Reindeer with lighted horns flock to Lights in Bloom every year. Over 2 Million LED lights are used to transform Selby Gardens…

Still basking in the glow of national recognition, Marie Selby Gardens’ annual outdoor lighted holiday display returns this year with a few safety tweaks. Selby Lights in Bloom made USA Today’s Top 10 Botanical Garden Holiday Lights shows in 2019… Thru Jan 2.”

— Vicki Dean, Sarasota Herald-Tribune
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Holiday Placemaking: How Downtown Lansing’s Ornaments Became A Cult Fave”

Holiday Placemaking: How Downtown Lansing’s Ornaments Became A Cult Fave”

Photo: Abigail Censky, WKAR PBS
“The big red ornaments sitting in the roundabout in front of the Capitol have been a Lansing tradition for more than a decade. But, last year—there was a chance that they’d disappear forever before a good Samaritan stepped in…

Craig Terrill is one of the brains behind the online satire platform Lansing Facts. Their followers know the ornaments as the Orbs of Winter…

Tragedy struck in December of 2018 when a driver hit the sculpture and drove away leaving the ornaments broken. Many assumed once they were taken down, they’d return fixed the following holiday season.

Ty Forquer is the Chief Advice Officer at Lansing Facts. He said, when the 2019 holidays were approaching the Lansing Facts team checked in on some of the city’s big holiday decorations.

‘There was a social post about the tree going up. And we’re like, alright, we’re on. We’re on Orbs of Winter watch, you know, look for these coming up soon. And the deputy mayor tweeted back at us and said, Well, they’re not coming back this year, they were damaged, we’re not going to repair them.’

Immediately there was a public outcry from people who were concerned their favorite city decorations had become casualties. Cathleen Edgerly is the Executive Director of Downtown Lansing Inc. She said her office was fielding some of the calls…

One concerned young man even offered to start a GoFundMe campaign to foot the $7,000 dollar repair bill that the city wasn’t prepared to pay…

‘We have folks who use it for proposals, for their family holiday Christmas cards,’ said Edgerly. “‘ think it really caught people off guard to hear that this thing that they expect to be there is not going to be there. And you know, I think, like I said, it revealed his weird affection that maybe a lot of us did not know we had…’

In a Christmas miracle, before they were gone forever local real estate owner and retired racecar driver Paul Gentilozzi stepped up to pay for the repairs—restoring the oversized fiberglass ornaments to their original condition…”

— Abigail Censky, WKAR PBS
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Editorial: “Give thanks for Jacksonville’s history, natural beauty”

Editorial: “Give thanks for Jacksonville’s history, natural beauty”

Photo: Scenic Jacksonville Facebook
“There is so much to be thankful for in Jacksonville.

What comes to mind immediately includes beautiful natural resources and an incredible history.

The natural resources are dominated by water.

The majestic St. Johns River widens into an estuary as it nears the Atlantic Ocean.

The Intracoastal Waterway has its own unique ecology that you can appreciate from water level. Crossing a bridge at twilight, the setting sun acts like a spotlight, turning the marshes into a soft palette of colors.

The tributaries of the river criss-cross the city. Two of the most prominent near Downtown, Hogans Creek and McCoys Creek, are being rediscovered with an aggressive nonprofit, Groundwork Jacksonville, leading the way…

Look at a map of Duval’s major parks and many of them are located around the outer edges of the county. That is about to change, however. Once the Emerald Trail is completed, there will be 30 miles of urban pathways around Downtown that are linked to the riverwalk. And once the pedestrian walkway is completed alongside the Fuller Warren Bridge, the riverwalks will have a sky-high connection.

Meanwhile, there are plans to expand access along the St. Johns River Downtown. There is much empty space along the Northbank. Plans for a series of riverfront parks are being advanced by Riverfront Parks Now, a group of influential advocates. Public access that began with the Southbank Riverwalk in the 1980s is now coming to fruition.

On the Southbank, plans for a massive mixed-use development at the site of the former Southside Generating Station will include an extension of the riverwalk that wraps around the back of the riverfront development.

Jacksonville’s incredible history

The Times-Union Editorial page has been campaigning for a better appreciation of Jacksonville history, especially the history of our Black native sons and daughters…

The stories are fascinating.

Jacksonville — a city of natural beauty and beautiful people”

— Florida Times-Union Editorial Board
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More news about this project and MOSH relocation
Read Scenic Jacksonville on proposed Metropolitan Park

Placemaking with “Square Footage – Signs that Define a Building, and Sometimes a City”

Placemaking with “Square Footage – Signs that Define a Building, and Sometimes a City”

Photo: Robert Whitehead
“Building signs have grown into a $37.5 billion industry. Some have become so iconic they are peranent parts of the landscape, often standing in for their hometown.

Some signs have become so iconic, they are permanent parts of the landscape — and sometimes stand in for the cities in which they are found…

The boldness of Miami

Nothing captures the vibe of this Florida city like the pastel-colored Art Deco hotels and glowing neon signs along Ocean Drive on Miami Beach — all part of a historic district. Erected in 1935, the three-story Colony Hotel was one of the first of the properties to make its mark. Henry Hohauser designed the structure, in the streamlined style of the day, as well as its inverted-T sign. His boxy marquee allowed the name to be seen from both sides and the beach… Materials used in construction during the Depression weren’t of the highest quality, however, and by 1989 the marquee had to be rebuilt. Recently, the neon letters were painstakingly removed again before a new marquee made of galvanized steel was installed and the letters put back on.

The quirkiness of Los Angeles

The sign above Randy’s Donuts in Los Angeles can be seen by those flying in and out of Los Angeles International Airport.

The sprawling Southern California city is home to a number of “programmatic” signs — ones shaped like the products their businesses sell, designed to flag down passing motorists. The dimpled pastry atop Randy’s Donuts in the Inglewood neighborhood is by far the best known of the bunch.

Thirty-two feet in diameter, the doughnut can be spotted from the air by those flying in and out of Los Angeles International Airport. And if people haven’t laid eyes on it in person, they have likely seen it in movies, music videos and promotions.

The sophistication of Chicago

The Gothic-style letters of the Drake Hotel’s famous sign stand nearly 12 feet tall and have been perched on the roof of the landmark building in downtown Chicago since 1940.”

— Jane Margolies, New York Times
Great photos and more about additional cities and their iconic signs