LaVilla could be on cusp of major comeback

Restoring Lavilla's historical significance

LaVilla could be on the cusp of a major comeback.

It’s something that business development manager at The Ritz Theatre and Museum, Vanessa Davis, would love to see.

“There’s an opportunity now with a lot of development in downtown to kind of bring us up to the forefront,” said Davis.

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Davis said Jacksonville has never been able to really tap into the rich history of the neighborhood.


In its heyday, LaVilla was considered the Harlem of the South, a safe haven where African American musicians and artists could thrive.

It’s a history, that some say could help draw more tourism dollars.

“The beautiful thing about the LaVilla neighborhood is that historically it wasn’t just a black neighborhood there’s was multiple different races and ethnicities,” said Davis.

Development is now making its way in.

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“I’m just interested in a community to be here again maybe some retail some living spaces,” said Davis.

Davis said she wants city leaders to keep in mind LaVilla’s historic fabric.

“I’m happy with the development in the area. I do think that people should take into consideration the history in the area if we can kind of keep a similar look,” said Davis.

The city has already shown an interest in LaVilla given it held four downtown investment authority meetings at The Ritz Theatre.

And there are talks now to figure out a way to showcase the history of this vibrant neighborhood, a move that some believe has been a long time coming.

“It’s only going to be bigger and brighter,” said Davis.