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  #61  
Old Posted Apr 18, 2012, 5:33 PM
DBR96A DBR96A is offline
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
...what drives Jacksonville's economy?
From the time I've spent there, it seems to be driven by the military, plus some manufacturing and basic services.
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  #62  
Old Posted Apr 19, 2012, 1:30 AM
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Great thread. I've been documenting a lot of this since I moved to Jax in 2003. I'm glad Simms compiled a lot of it. It's interesting to read the commentary about this place from those living outside of the city. I just finished putting together my first book called "Reclaiming Jacksonville", that's scheduled to be released by History Press this weekend. I had so much information, it made sense to put a document together that would share what had been stored in the archives of Metro Jacksonville.



It's basically a story of 12 historically significant abandoned structures that still stand today, documenting their history, the people behind them and their impact on the city, combined with photography of what they looked like in their heyday and what are now. I have about 150 pics and the publisher used less than half. I'll throw them up on the site either tonight or tomorrow. If you like urban grit, you'll enjoy them. It really gives you a different impression of the city and although a lot of damage has been done, you can see that it still has a lot of potential.

As for Jax's economy, it's pretty diverse and quite different from most of Florida, which is tourism driven. Manufacturing isn't what it used to be but other industries like logistics, railroads, the port, etc. are still economic engines. The Navy remains the largest employer and although most of the headquarters are gone, banking and insurance are still economic drivers as well.

As far as downtown goes, Simms has pretty much summed it up with the before and after picks. Downtown still struggles but the only entity to blame is city leadership itself. I'm hopeful that the new mayoral administration will be different from those of the past.

Also, regarding the pre-consolidated city's population decline, it's really no different from most cities that had decent density before WWII. It's down about 50% since 1950 but that loss is hidden by the city and county merging in 1968.

Simms is also right about the urban core neighborhoods. They're actually the reason I relocated here from Central Florida. Great architecture, people, weather, and lots of potential considering the they are built for twice the density and the city continues to grow. All the officials really need to do is simply get out the way, stop demolishing historic building fabric and let the free market take control.
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  #63  
Old Posted Apr 19, 2012, 1:43 AM
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Originally Posted by 10023 View Post
Yep... the "Greatest Generation" had god awful taste. In everything.
Don't worry. Once the young'uns like us get a hold of stuff, we should be moving in a better direction. But I could be wrong.
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  #64  
Old Posted Apr 19, 2012, 2:12 AM
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Quick question, does Jacksonville have a public market?

It truely is sad to see the state of many of those buildings that are left over from the city's heyday. There was one picture in particular of an older building, standing but obviously vacant and left in ruin, with a freeway ramp right next to it. I felt like weeping when I saw that!

I do have some ideas, tho... one of them pertaining to the question to start this post. If the answer to that question is a "no," then more questions will follow...
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  #65  
Old Posted Apr 19, 2012, 2:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Jonboy1983 View Post
Quick question, does Jacksonville have a public market?

It truely is sad to see the state of many of those buildings that are left over from the city's heyday. There was one picture in particular of an older building, standing but obviously vacant and left in ruin, with a freeway ramp right next to it. I felt like weeping when I saw that!

I do have some ideas, tho... one of them pertaining to the question to start this post. If the answer to that question is a "no," then more questions will follow...
http://www.jaxfarmersmarket.com/
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  #66  
Old Posted Apr 19, 2012, 2:39 AM
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interesting. I didn't know much about jacksonville history

the South in general is not so good at this, outside of savannah and a few places
Not so good at what exactly? Preservation I assume, since the thread is about Jacksonville destroying it's historic urban fabric.

Southern cities have been about as good at historic preservation as any other cities. There are many examples of this around the South.

Last edited by TarHeelJ; Apr 19, 2012 at 3:55 AM.
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  #67  
Old Posted Apr 19, 2012, 2:47 AM
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You must be talking about the Annie Lytle (Public School No. 4).



Amazingly, Jacksonville does have a historic market that's open 7 days a week. Bascially, most of the urban core stuff outside of the official CBD still exists.

The Jacksonville farmer's market has been located about a mile outside of downtown since 1938. A nearby seafood plant called Beaver Street Fisheries purchased the site years ago for future expansion, but decided to keep the market open for the good of the surrounding community. Beaver Street finally expanded about four years ago. They built three new metal sheds next door and tore the historic market sheds down to make way for their expanded plant. Here are a few images from a couple of weeks ago.

The architecture is nothing special but its still a cool place to spend time in if you're in the urban core.







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  #68  
Old Posted Apr 19, 2012, 2:58 AM
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Originally Posted by TarHeelJ View Post
Not so good at what exactly? Preservation I assume, since the thread is about Jacksonville destroying it's historic urban fabric.

Southern cities have been about as good at historic preservation as any other cities. There are many examples of it around the South.
Yes, within a 30-45 min drive, you have Fernandina Beach and St. Augustine in either direction. Both have pretty vibrant preserved cores. Savannah is two hours away and Charleston is a little over three. Even Jax has decent districts still remaining a mile or two outside of downtown. Unfortunately, downtown has always been considered the face of the community and thus, it has suffered from a brunt of poorly planned and implemented urban renewal strategies.
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  #69  
Old Posted Apr 19, 2012, 2:59 AM
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Hmmm... That farmers market doesn't exactly look like it's around any of the historic warehouses that still remain. My suggestion was to build some kind of public market in one of those buildings and then develop a bit of a market place around that with a variety of retail and wholesale market venues. I'm using Pittsburgh's Strip District as an example here. Thats an area of about 4 blocks by 20 blocks of old industrial/warehouse buildings that were eventually converted into retail use. Some retailers/wholesalers actually date back for several decades, but other uses came pretty recently. The famed Primanti Bros' has been around since 1933; the heavy trucking industry is what built that up. The public market there, which is in the old Produce Terminal is only a year old...

I had a chance to review some of those images. I envision several blocks of that kind of retail activity. It looks like a sea of pedestrians there. Come up to Pittsburgh; that's precisely what you'll see along Penn Avenue in the Strip District, even on a SUNDAY! Sometimes, I think you'd have more luck finding your way through a crowded NY Subway station!

Wait, I've thought of something to do with some of those older historic warehouse/industrial buildings. What about an entertainment complex? A notable example would be what they did in Baltimore's Inner Harbor...
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Last edited by Jonboy1983; Apr 19, 2012 at 3:07 AM. Reason: added commentary
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  #70  
Old Posted Apr 19, 2012, 3:16 AM
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The Strip District is nice. The area around the farmers market isn't as dense as the Strip District but it does have a mix of new and historic warehouses and storefronts.









When they discussed rebuilding the sheds, I actually suggested they relocate into one of the existing nearby vacant warehouses. However, they wanted to stay at their current site. Nevertheless, the industrial district (most of which is in decline) can and eventually should become an environment similar to the Strip or Detroit's Eastern Market.

Btw, the market did recently purchase a former grocery store next door to the new sheds. They plan to convert the property into an indoor public market.
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  #71  
Old Posted Apr 19, 2012, 4:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Lakelander View Post
Yes, within a 30-45 min drive, you have Fernandina Beach and St. Augustine in either direction. Both have pretty vibrant preserved cores. Savannah is two hours away and Charleston is a little over three. Even Jax has decent districts still remaining a mile or two outside of downtown. Unfortunately, downtown has always been considered the face of the community and thus, it has suffered from a brunt of poorly planned and implemented urban renewal strategies.
Thank you...and there are countless other cities/towns around the South with excellent, intact historic districts and buildings. New Orleans, Atlanta, Memphis, Nashville, Winston-Salem, Asheville, Birmingham, Louisville, Richmond, Wilmington, Chattanooga, Mobile, Houston, Dallas, etc, etc, etc. This is not including the beautiful small towns like Beaufort NC, Hillsborough NC, Abbeville SC, Cheraw SC, Williamsburg VA, Charlottesville VA, Natchez MS, Rome GA, and a plethora of others. It's silly to act like these places don't exist.
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  #72  
Old Posted Apr 19, 2012, 4:18 AM
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With that said, there are sections of downtown Jax that are still intact as well...



The challenge for local residents is to make sure we protect what's left.
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  #73  
Old Posted Apr 19, 2012, 4:22 AM
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Nice photo...those buildings look like something historic to build upon.

Of course there are sections of downtown Jacksonville that are still intact. Some people tend to take a thread like this and conclude that there is nothing left and the city is worthless. I see it as a thread depicting what could have been and what still can be, but I also understand that there is much still there that is worthwhile and interesting.
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  #74  
Old Posted Apr 19, 2012, 12:38 PM
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Don't worry. Once the young'uns like us get a hold of stuff, we should be moving in a better direction. But I could be wrong.
Well I think it's already happening in a lot of respects.

Cities are getting healthier, people are moving back downtown, there seems to be much more emphasis on restoring old buildings than tearing them down, etc.

American food is also getting much better, at least for people that can afford to eschew the products of the big food conglomerates more or less completely.
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  #75  
Old Posted Apr 20, 2012, 1:20 AM
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Thank you very much Lake for noticing the thread and chiming in. I defer to you now since you have the extensive photo stock, the knowledge and great commentary!



It really is truly incredible what the city once was, and its history and former prominence in America (compared to nowadays when most probably do not know where the city actually is, but they know it has a large Baptist church and the military).

Part of the point of this thread for me (and it got buried, truly) was to showcase some buildings still standing and hope that anyone reading this would see potential and have some sort of way to get down to the city and meet with some folks to see if a real estate play could be made. I do have so much hope that companies like the one I work for will eventually take a risk and open an extremely opportunistic fund for acquisitions of total value-add and opportunistic real estate such as basically anything in Jacksonville (including "class A").
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  #76  
Old Posted Apr 20, 2012, 1:44 AM
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To the contrary, a huge percentage of the population left Jacksonville's original boundaries.

1950 population: 204,517 (in 30.2 square miles)

2010 population of 1950 boundaries: 104,047

That's a loss of nearly 50%, and a 2010 population density of just 3,445 ppsm, which is extraordinarily low for such a small area.
Thanks. And also the land area of Duval County may be 774 square miles (quite average), about half of it is still pine land. The average density is still quite low, but I'd say for inhabited parts of the county range from 2,000-3,000 ppsm on average, some parts lower and some parts in the core (not downtown) between 5,000-7,000 ppsm.

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I'm lucky to be a Chicagoan, but I've also witnessed a remarkable transformation as New Orleans has come back - not just from Katrina but from a massive streak of blight and abandonment that has dogged the city since the 80s. So I know for a fact that such turnarounds are indeed possible.

I hate to say this, but our federal government has really really helped NOLA along, especially post-Katrina. Most cities do not see the same benefit and I'm not trying to be political here, but NOLA has been a Washington favorite. Without the help, it would probably not have come back like it has. As we speak they are still injecting billions of dollars for government contracted projects in the city.

The only question is, what drives Jacksonville's economy? You can't rebuild a city without economic growth. To get that growth, you have to offer something unique, and there has to be some kind of way to attract business growth. Low taxes aren't really an option since large cities can never compete with suburban areas on that score - so cities need to offer something unique and market themselves.
I agree with all of this. Jacksonville's economy is largely driven by the following:

1) Military
2) Finance/Insurance (still the regional or corporate HQ of many banks and still nicknamed the Hartford of the South, though both industries are shells of what they were there)
3) Real Estate (growing Sunbelt city in Florida...do the math)
4) Trade and logistics (90% of trade with PR comes through Jax, which has direct flights there and a large local population, and the port is still considered a major port)
Rail - CSX is Hq'd there, as well as Rail America and FECI/FEC
5) Manufacturing (it's still an old, industrial blue collar town, which makes it unique for Florida)



Outside of city officials who normally impede progress and do all the wrong things, there are a few prominent businessmen who would like to see the city change and adapt to one that is attractive to young professionals. These men include:

1) Rob Clements - CEO of Everbank, the largest bank in FL and the bank with naming rights to the Jags stadium (hometown investment)

2) Peter Rummell - the current chair of ULI and long-term resident of Jacksonville, has some of the best business connections in the country due to his former positions/jobs

3) Shahad Khan - the new Jaguars billionaire owner who parks his yacht downtown (instead of the ICW or SoFla) and is vocal about supporting and improving downtown

4) John Delaney - 2 terms prior mayor of Jacksonville who initiated the Better Jacksonville Plan and is currently president of UNF, holds sway

5) John Mica - House Transportation Committee Chair, resident of Winter Park in Orlando (his district extends up to metro Jax), and a long-time proponent of fixed-rail transit in Jacksonville


Not to mention, many cities much larger than Jax don't even have a community like that which is represented on MetroJacksonville. The website and its editors and many active posters now hold a lot of sway in the city policy guiding process, so there is hope that things will now change more quickly, and for the better instead of for the worse.
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  #77  
Old Posted Apr 21, 2012, 6:37 PM
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In spite of the destruction that has taken place over the years, I still think Jacksonville has some of the best bones of any Southern city of comparable size. If Charlotte can do all that it has done with less to work with, there's no reason Jacksonville can't do as much if not more. The last I visited the city was last year. I'm used to seeing empty plots of land in and around the urban core, so that's not what I was focused on; it was the fact that, relatively speaking, a nice amount of the historic urban fabric was still in place. Jacksonville has a TON of potential; it just needs the right leadership in place to make sure that it's realized.
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  #78  
Old Posted Apr 21, 2012, 10:02 PM
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In spite of the destruction that has taken place over the years, I still think Jacksonville has some of the best bones of any Southern city of comparable size. If Charlotte can do all that it has done with less to work with, there's no reason Jacksonville can't do as much if not more. The last I visited the city was last year. I'm used to seeing empty plots of land in and around the urban core, so that's not what I was focused on; it was the fact that, relatively speaking, a nice amount of the historic urban fabric was still in place. Jacksonville has a TON of potential; it just needs the right leadership in place to make sure that it's realized.
Very true about Charlotte...I'm sure most everyone has seen the awful photos of uptown from the early 70s with all of the vacant lots and only a couple of highrises. It was much more barren than what I've seen of Jacksonville, and look at Charlotte today. I totally believe that it can happen in Jacksonville too - as KB said above - with the right leadership.
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  #79  
Old Posted Apr 30, 2012, 12:15 AM
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so much potential. and sadly, so much sprawl to the south of Jacksonville.

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  #80  
Old Posted May 6, 2012, 1:22 PM
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True, but sprawl here is no different in size and scale than the sprawl development in most of our cities. The only difference is the core city (only 30 square miles with pop. of 200,000) consolidated with the county (767 square miles) and many of its former suburban municipalities (ex. Murray Hill, South Jacksonville, Mandarin, etc.) are now parts of Jacksonville.
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Last edited by Lakelander; May 6, 2012 at 1:33 PM.
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