For whatever reason, the Curry administration is moving full-speed ahead to tear down the Jacksonville Landing. Damn the torpedoes.
It has no (publicly revealed) plan to replace the 32-year old-structure.
The architect who helped design the Landing told WJCT it would be a mistake to demolish the Landing without a rock solid redevelopment plan in place.
“Who in their right mind would spend $15 million to demolish something and have no economic recovery in place?” Hans Strauch asked.
That is exactly the right question to ask.
One of the dumbest ideas to emerge is to replace the building with trees and grass, creating another bum magnet on the riverfront.
The original idea for the landing was to have a shopping/entertainment area in the heart of downtown on the riverfront, to attract visitors and local residents.
Like many other new features, it was labeled a potential “catalyst” for downtown redevelopment.
The hope was that it would be like Harborplace, in the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, which was built by the same company in 1980.
For a while, it seemed that the idea would work as billed.
But politicians ruined the plan.
They never provided the crucial parking they had promised and security around the building never was adequate.
Also, the owner of the Landing apparently did not suit the politicians. Quarrels and lawsuits ensured.
One hope is that the return of Matt Carlucci to the City Council might put a brake on the speeding train.
Carlucci’s father, Joe Carlucci, was an effective watchdog on the council during the 1970s, before he was elected to the Florida Senate.
Carlucci has said greater citizen input is needed before the Landing is replaced.
There’s no apparent reason the mayor, who is said to have a streak of obstinacy, couldn’t find someone to his liking to take over the building and do it right.
How about Shad Khan? He certainly has the wherewithal.
Developer Peter Rummell? He is rebuilding Southbank, across the river from the Landing.
This time, the city could live up to its promise and provide parking.
With new residential property in the area that was not there 30 years ago, a new and better Landing could become the people center it was expected to be.
Carlucci has not taken office yet, but we hope he will be a watchdog and try to slow the train until a sensible plan is formulated.
Why is Curry in a hurry?