downtown jacksonville

When William J. Mills was elected the first mayor of Jacksonville, back some 180 years ago, he could have never imagined a city that, in a one-month period of time, will host a former president, celebrate cultures from around the world and present one of the nation’s most prestigious outdoor music events.
Downtown has suffered its doldrums, but good people prevail. Gone are the days of Furchott’s, LaRose Shoes and the Mayflower Hotel. There was a time when a trip Downtown was met with bustling sidewalks and the call of, “Short line on the main floor,” that greeted everyone who passed by the white-coated doorman at Morrison’s Cafeteria.
There’s a new face to Downtown with the Laura Street work and various park improvements winding down, along with the opening of the new Courthouse and the relocation of many EverBank-ers that will energize the Core like never before. Our mayor, Alvin Brown, has launched an ambitious revitalization plan to lead our city forward with a focus on reinvigorating Jacksonville’s downtown Core. The mayor’s reorganization team brings in a trio of noted professionals: Artis Gilmore, Alan Verlander and Tonisha Landry-Gaines to lead the City’s efforts to develop exciting new sports opportunities, along with spotlighting Jacksonville as a premiere entertainment destination.
Terry Lorince, executive director at Downtown Vision, Inc., commented, “Downtown is the face of Jacksonville to the world. Downtown’s success directly impacts job creation in Northeast Florida and provides stability for the local economy. This reorganization will make both Downtown and the entire region more attractive to businesses, investors and a diverse workforce.” Downtown Vision is an organization supporting development and activities in the Core. They host the wildly popular first Wednesday Art Walk bringing thousands Downtown to stroll the streets, meet friends and check out the newest creations of Jacksonville artists sprinkled throughout various donated business spaces. DVI also hosts Movies In the Park every year, along with everyone’s favorite taste treat, Eat Up Downtown, and they provide pith-helmeted, bright-orange-vested Ambassadors to assist visitors and lost locals alike.
There are a number of new businesses that have opened in the Core over the past year. There are new eateries, bars, live music clubs and retail stores.
Innovation and imagination play a key role in Jacksonville’s revitalization initiative. One of the new ventures launched by some of the good guys is CoWork Jax. Their ultimate goal is to provide a convenient Downtown coworking space that’s a friendly, open working environment created for a collection of workers who need a place to work, but not the whole office. Bringing together people with different experiences and interests ideas that could never be hatched elsewhere are born. This group brings smart and talented people into Downtown Jacksonville, and they discover the potential of the area and the energy being developed. There is stregnth in numbers and the growing number of new faces at CoWork demonstrates that.
Cherish our Core. Downtown was once the thriving center of commerce and entertainment for all of Northeast Florida. The grande dame, so to speak. We need to show our “good” and embrace Downtown revitalization and not shrug an apathetic shoulder. Downtown was the start of our city. It’s the mother of Riverside and San Marco and, therefore, the grandmother of our ever-sprawling metropolis. Now you wouldn’t mistreat or ignore your sweet ole granny, would you?
Come downtown this month. May is full of events designed to showcase the Core and the best in all of us. First Wednesday Art Walk this month will feature Doug Eng’s Message In A Bottle exhibit at Main and Monroe, sending heartfelt notes to our troops overseas. Then the 20th annual World of Nations Celebration happens at Metro Park with the flavors, sounds and joyous enthusiasm of our neighbors who come to Jacksonville from all corners of the globe and embrace here as home. There will be Movies In the Park along with the mouthwatering Backyard Bar-B-Que competition. The Jacksonville Cultural Council Arts Awards kicks our usual bacon-flavored opinion of art up a notch or three, and in sports, the U.S. Men’s National Soccer team will take on Scotland in a display of “what they call football” at EverBank Field. To wind up the month, the Jacksonville Jazz Festival takes place Memorial Day weekend. Jacksonville’s iconic jazz festival is gearing up for another exciting weekend of music performances and music celebration that will light up multiple stages Downtown from May 24 to May 27. The festival will also feature the Wine Down/Brew Town Tasting Experience and the Art in the Heart Downtown juried art show and sale, as well as jazz exhibits and displays.
May is a great time to enjoy our Downtown. Visit the friendly storekeepers, check out the 80s exhibit at MOCA, explore the Main Library or enjoy an adventure crossing the river by the River Taxi or by Skyway. Explore the “good” we’ve got. It’s called Jacksonville, it is home…and the best is yet to come.