Downtown Development: Do we have a plan? Fingers crossed!

Eye on Jacksonville has been asking to see a master plan for Jacksonville’s downtown. We have written a couple of posts about the need for a downtown Master Plan instead of the piecemeal projects we have seen in the past. Rumor has it there might be one on the table.

The Downtown Investment Authority (DIA) will hold a Public Workshop. The purpose of this meeting is for the DIA to present a holistic informational overview of current Downtown riverfront development plans, both public and private, and the applicable processes for review and consideration. There are many entities involved in this and you – the taxpayers – get to make comments after the presentation. You can view the details here and attend if you can:

After years of deals gone bad and a downtown of broken promises, one can only hope that maybe – just maybe something might develop from the DIA’s diligent work. 

We did get some additional information about this public workshop from RiverFront Parks Now that caught us by surprise. They stated…

City of Jacksonville Downtown Investment Authority (DIA) is hosting a workshop meeting in the Jacksonville Public Main Library (Downtown) and via Zoom. The DIA will be presenting its current riverfront development plans. DIA’s plans include potentially giving away a portion of Metropolitan Park to Iguana Investments for the development of a high-end hotel. 

The “giving away to Iguana Investments” was a striking comment and we will keep a close eye on that. 

We appreciate the work put forth by the DIA and only wish we could see a few changes in how ideas are generated and heard. The public sits there, hears the ideas and has just a few minutes to comment. That’s it. Not much engagement with the taxpayers.

This is how it is done at the City Council too.  It’s a standard operating procedure for city business.

It always seems that the people get the information handed to them and the expectation is we will all be very happy about the results. Unfortunately, the Lot J deal has put people on high alert to that system of communication. When all was heard, it became an uphill battle for the Lot J deal and it didn’t happen. It then became “the people don’t have vision” and we were blamed for the demise.   

Maybe the true blame lies within the processes that the city uses to communicate with the taxpayers?

What if the administration said, “We have a brilliant opportunity for downtown.  We would love to have an open forum of all the different ideas. Let’s do a public meeting and anyone who is interested can attend and share their ideas. Anyone. That would mean developers, architects, creatives, executives and the average taxpayer.”

You certainly would have some crazy ideas and comments but that’s okay. It’s the job of the leaders to listen to ALL the people. And guess what — there are some really cool and exciting ideas in the hearts and minds of many Jacksonville residents. They just need to be heard in advance — not after all the plans have been made.  

It would certainly be a twist to the way we do business in Jacksonville. 

Yet I am hopeful there will be a great plan next week AND maybe if great ideas or comments bloom from the peanut galley, their voices will be heard and taken into account. 

Fingers crossed.

Billie Tucker Volpe Founder of Eye on Jacksonville and Leadership Consultant to CEOs/Executives


Eye’s team is having a doggone good time keeping you informed of the issues of the day. Send us your stories and we’ll sniff them out!


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