Downtown Report shows optimistic growth pre-pandemic

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Downtown Jacksonville, prior to the pandemic, was experiencing growth in investments, tourism, and residential life.

The 2019-2020 State of Downtown Report is an 18-month look at how Downtown is doing through a series of studies and surveys conducted by Downtown Vision, Inc., a nonprofit that focuses on economic development in downtown Jacksonville. Most of the data was collected before the COVID-19 pandemic affected Florida and Jacksonville.

“While the recovery timeline from COVID-19 is unknown, trends across the board are in Downtown’s favor,” said Numa Saisselin, Downtown Vision Board Chair. “And as the premier center for the arts, entertainment, business and urban living in the region, a better Downtown means a better quality of life for all of us.”

Investments in development projects increased by 152 percent. The 2018-2019 report shows a investment amount of $210 million. This year’s report shows that number has gone up to $530 million. These investments include residential buildings, office buildings, retail, and infrastructure projects. There is an expected $6 billion in expenses for projects that are under construction and proposed projects.

When it comes to the Landing site, there is still no clear proposal from Downtown Vision. They are expecting some development in the area, but it is to be determined.

The number of residents living downtown increased by 18 percent. The 2019 Downtown Resident Survey shows that the best things about living downtown include the walkability, the entertainment and events, and the city atmosphere. The worst things about living downtown for residents include a lack of grocery stores nearby, empty storefronts, and the transient population. Four new apartment complexes were built since 2019, bringing in 664 new units. The overwhelming majority of residents are renters.

In 2019, Downtown saw more than 20 million visits and along the line of more visitors, two hotels in downtown are currently under construction to add 263 hotel rooms to Downtown.

“Pre-pandemic, Downtown Jacksonville was growing rapidly,” said Jake Gordon, Downtown Vision CEO. “Despite the severe impact on many businesses, major construction continues and the stimulus support is helping. The public and private sector are pulling together to keep Downtown growing. And as we recover, the more successful our Downtown is, the more competitive we are as a city, the more talent and jobs we recruit, the more our city thrives, and our tax base grows to fund even more improvements all our residents deserve.”

Hannah Lee

Hannah Lee

Hannah Lee is a General Assignment Reporter for 104.5 WOKV.