PUBLIC-PRIVATE ART IN THE STREETS
This is the 29th year the Beaches Town Center Agency will host Dancing in the Streets — the popular event, to be held May 16, is the agency’s largest annual fundraiser for improvements and projects in the central business district of Atlantic and Neptune beaches.
This year, festival-goers will be the first to see a newly installed public art sculpture outside the longstanding restaurant and bar Ragtime Tavern. The sculpture, designed by artist Enzo Torcoletti, will sit 45 inches tall on a red granite base on the landscaped island outside the restaurant on the northwest corner of Atlantic and Ocean boulevards.
Joining the notable jaguar and turtle, the caryatid-inspired sculpture is the third public art installation sponsored and paid for by the BTCA. Ongoing fundraisers and private donations are what drove this particular public art project — meaning, Torcoletti’s sculpture is not funded by taxpayers.
Though a privately funded art sculpture that benefits the city and its citizens and enhances the overall tourist experience seems like a no brainer, the approval process for a public installment can take time. According to Greg Kupperman, BTCA president, the agency has been working to get another art installation approved for many years.
There is a fine line between Atlantic Beach and Neptune Beach. If an art project is proposed and set to be placed on the boundary line that separates the two cities, both the Atlantic Beach City Commission and Neptune Beach City Council have to approve — which didn’t happen a few years ago when another of the agency’s proposals was denied. “Luckily, with this project, the agency only had to get approval from the Atlantic Beach Commission,” Kupperman said. “We met with Mayor Carolyn Woods beforehand to explain the benefits this art project would bring to the city. When we got to the Commission, it was voted for unanimously.”
A PLACE FOR KISMET TO CALL HOME
One of the richest men in the world wants to develop the Shipyards — 48 acres of Downtown Jacksonville’s dormant St. Johns Riverfront property — into a destination entertainment complex. So who is going to tell him no? Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan rendered his plan in February to turn the Shipyards into a mega-development, with luxury residential space, public parks, restaurants, shops, a hotel, an open-air amphitheater, a multilevel football practice field and a place to moor the USS Adams as a maritime museum.
Khan is worth $4.6 billion, according to Forbes Magazine. If he wants to do it, of course he can. Can’t he?
That all may depend on his competition.
After Khan made his pitch, the city’s Downtown Investment Authority put out a request for proposals to see if any other deep-pocketed developers had an interest. After all, this stretch of vacant real estate would make a developer anywhere else in Florida drool gold coins.
Jacksonville received only two other bids in the 30 days it gave competitors to come up with proposals. And if there were any chance of besting Khan, it might have to come through divine intervention.
One proposal came from conduit of God Steve Grenda. Grenda lives in a camping trailer in Northwest Jacksonville. One of Grenda’s neighbors, commenting on the would be-developer’s financial wherewithal, told WJXT-NEWS4JAX, “That man ain’t got no money!”
No matter. Grenda’s lavish plans are to build a replica of Noah’s Ark, a Christian social center and a treatment center that practices the healing Christian arts. Here’s betting the city chooses Khan’s secular palisade.
The only other proposal received was from Shataki Enterprises. Shataki’s bid includes a $400 million entertainment and dining destination anchored by a luxury marine repair and servicing center. One vessel that would fall into that category currently mooring in Jacksonville is the Kismet, Khan’s 308-foot Lumsen luxury yacht. Shataki president Patrick Mullen says there are many other yachts around.
But even Shataki seems sold on Khan. Former Jacksonville city council member and former state representative Eric Smith, who represents Shataki, thinks Khan will probably win the bid. And Shataki will find another way to be in Downtown Jacksonville; maybe even at Khan’s Shipyards.
And while Grenda’s boss told early Christian historian Matthew, “It’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than to enter the kingdom of heaven,” Khan’s other competitor had only nice things to say about the Jags owner.
“[Shad Khan]’s the best thing that ever happened to Jacksonville, in my estimation,” says Smith. “Even more important than the Super Bowl.”
Susan Cooper Eastman
GROWLERS GET GREENLIGHTED
If there’s nothing else we know about Northeast Florida, it’s that people here love their beer. So much so, in fact, the region has rapidly established its own thriving craft brewery scene, employing dozens of people and moving kegs by the truckload. On the surface, it looks ideal: Small business growth generating profits and adding to the state’s reputation. But not everyone is thrilled to see it happening.
Certain elements in Tallahassee have been assiduously jerking around the region’s craft breweries through legislation — specifically, the infamous Senate Bill 186. Introduced in December 2014 by State Senator Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater), and co-sponsored by Democrats Jack Clemens (Lake Worth) and Audrey Gibson (Jacksonville), SB 186 is a 17-page morass of middling make-work that lurched its way through the bureaucracy all spring, finally passing on April 14. The bill takes effect July 1.
Most of the legislation relates to the niceties of advertising, as well as transportation of finished products, but the key provision eliminates the existing ban on half-growlers.
Robin Miller is the inventory manager at Bold City, which was one of the area’s first notable breweries upon its inception a decade ago. “People always bring in half-gallon growlers to be filled, and I feel bad having to tell them no,” she says. Miller doesn’t think any change in legislation will affect her business much at all, since the ban on half-gallons has directed people toward the upsell. “I need to order more gallon growlers,” she notes, “but I was told our supplier is completely out until the end of May.”
BOUQUETS TO THE UNF SURF TEAM With progressive and powerful maneuvering honed in Northeast Florida waters, the shredders in blue and grey blew the backs out of the tiny peaks off New Smyrna Beach last Sunday, on their way to dethroning those kooks from UNC-Wilmington and winning the school’s first East Coast Surfing Championship. The surf squad needs help to get the whole team to the National Championships in Southern California. gofundme.com/helpUNFwin
BRICKBATS TO FORMER ATLANTIC BEACH POLICE CHIEF MICHAEL CLASSEY Though investigators found enough prescription drugs that Victor Conte could conceivably have been Classey’s roomie, powerful friends (all former Atlantic Beach city officials) of the disgraced top-cop all testified on his behalf. While more than 98,000 federal and more than 210,000 state inmates serve time in prison for drug possession and/or trafficking, Classey was spared jail time for his drug crimes.
BOUQUETS TO FERNANDINA BEACH VICE MAYOR JOHNNY MILLER After the local Sierra Club educated Miller on the adverse effects plastic bags can have on marine mammals and sea turtles, he began advocating a law to allow cities and towns to regulate or ban their use, championing an effort to ban the bag. Currently, the state of Florida does not allow its local governments to pass laws restricting the use of plastic bags. A bill before the state legislature would allow an option for pilot programs in municipalities with populations of fewer than 100,000. At Miller’s behest, commissioners from the island city of Fernandina Beach unanimously passed a resolution supporting the state bill.
BRICKBATS TO MAYOR ALVIN BROWN He’s proposed a plan to spend millions to actually do nothing to reduce pollutants fouling the river. Facing a July 31 deadline to reduce nitrogen runoff by 53 metric tons, Mayor Brown’s plan suggests buying $2.9 million worth of pollution reduction credits from JEA. The credits purchase, passed in a City Council vote last week, buys time until the end of 2016, when stricter standards will be enforced, but it doesn’t get Northeast Florida any closer to a cleaner river.
I read with great interest and enjoyed you article on Mr. Shafer and his collection of notable area artists (“The Secret Exhibit,” April 15). I admire Mr. Shafer’s passion for art and share his approach to acquisitions based on the love of art and not as investments.
I will continue to read you articles with great interest. Keep up the good work!
IRRESPONSIBLE USE OF COCAINE
That whole cocaine joke in the “I Saw You” section (I Spy I Saw You retro edition, April 1) was pretty careless of you guys to print.
I read your piece on One Spark today (“APP-ocalypse,” April 15) and frankly, I came away generally disappointed. I also attended One Spark, and was able to vote successfully. I understood the technology component of the festival and prepared accordingly. I retrieved the application, and verified my updates to ensure not just a great One Spark experience, but frankly that I’d be well-equipped to capture all the sights awaiting creative hashtags to post on IG, Tumblr, and Facebook. See, I accept and understand that I live in Jacksonville, an embattled city with a personality conflict.
That said, if the free WiFi at St. Johns Town Center barely even allows a login, what in the world would make one assume that a free WiFi network accessible to 300K+ users actively attempting connection would offer anything even resembling a decent service?
You go on to talk about the rest of your experiences at One Spark, and problems with the free WiFi; don’t you have a data plan on your phone? Is that some sort of Millennial Malaise? No free WiFi, not doing it?
Hmmm. Maybe the real reason you didn’t truly partake in the One Spark experience was simple: You didn’t go to One Spark for the creators. You went, as you wrote, to listen to some music, view some art, make a couple of new friends, and drink a beer or four. That’s the point. You went for the gathering.
You completely avoid or maybe ignore that compared to last year, this year’s crop of “creators” were barely inspired. One Spark has seemingly devolved into an exercise of organized begging, signifying nothing. A series of random GoFundMe pages brought to life. You seem to miss these base level facts. And that’s why I’m disappointed, Matt. Maybe that beer stand was really something special. Did you vote for it?
FOLIO WEEKLY COVER ARTIST
Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, Yvonne C. Lozano has been a resident of Jacksonville since 1986. As a child, she was always interested in learning about and exploring the world around her, with an emphasis on tapping into the creative and expressive side of her brain. Art has been an ever-evolving and never-ending learning process in her life, and through it all she has purposed herself with the goal of always creating art that engages, empowers and expresses love.
Yvonne attended Douglas Anderson School of the Arts and went on to pursue her artistic studies at Jacksonville University, where she graduated with a bachelors of fine arts in 2001.
Some of her accomplishments include being voted Best Artist in the 2013 Folio Weekly Best of Jax readers’ poll, being commissioned to create the new Reddi Arts mural in San Marco in 2010 and writing and illustrating her first book, The Dingo Walks in Love: Teaching Lessons in Love With the Power of Art in 2014.