JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- With its big buildings along the banks of the St Johns River, there's no debating, downtown Jacksonville is beautiful. Our city's core isn't struggling with its scenery. The issue is its identity. Mayor Alvin Brown says revitalizing downtown is a priority for his administration.
“We're looking at opportunities and we hope that we'll have some things going pretty soon,” said Mayor Brown.
The Mayor couldn't provide us with a timetable, so to get your questions answered; we went straight to the expert. Don Shea is president of the Jacksonville Civic Council and the brain behind creating a bustling downtown.
Action News asked what the holdup has been to building a booming downtown. “Downtown has never had a full time advocate. No one wakes up everyday worrying about downtown or being accountable for downtown's progress,” said Shea.
That advocate, Shea says, will come from the Downtown Investment Authority. A group solely dedicated to developing downtown. Legislation to form the group is in the hands of city council members right now.
The historic buildings known as the Laura Street Trio are considered a linchpin in the redevelopment of downtown. Shea wants to see a high-end restaurant, boutique, hotel and apartment complex move in to the prime property.
Action News asked Shea, what has to happen for progress to start in the downtown area. “It looks in part like cranes in the air and construction projects underway in the next six to nine months and new people living downtown after that."
Shea expects city council members to vote on forming the Downtown Investment Authority next week. If passed, the group will be made up of nine board members appointed by the mayor and the Jacksonville City Council.