City officials finally are making progress on replacing the Jacksonville Landing but the initial moves don’t look promising.
The Downtown Investment Authority apparently intends to leave the expanse of grass known as Lenny’s Lawn mostly intact.
It is asking developers for ideas on what to do with three-fourths of the waterfront property at the northern foot of the Main Street Bridge, according to the Daily Record.
The remainder apparently would be used for private development.
The new park would be directly across the river from a park that has existed for about 60 years.
Jacksonville already has more park and recreation space than almost any other city.
While that may be scenic, the property is not generating any tax revenue. Instead it is costing money for maintenance.
Some 25 years ago the city spent $30 million buying up land all across the city, to be used for parks and recreation.
In a related move, the city will tear down the access ramp to the Main Street Bridge so that Lenny’s Lawn will connect to the parking lot on the eastern side of the bridge.
The city is asking for proposals to design and build the park space.
Eye on Jacksonville is hoping private developers will find some interesting and inviting use for the remaining 1.5 acres to be developed.
Having purchased and torn down a large shopping mall that was hailed as the catalyst for downtown redevelopment 32 years ago, the city has a responsibility to replace it with something better.
Our hope is that will happen but we are skeptical, given the track record.
There is plenty of potential. If the Landing site, the District across the river and the Lot J development all worked as envisioned, the city would have a new persona that might make it more pleasant for residents and visitors.
Finding the right mix of residential, commercial, public and private space in an urban center isn’t an exact science. But we would trust the instincts of business people much more than the fumbling of geeky government planners who have no stake in the outcome.