When I took office in 2015, I committed to you that, in a few years, you wouldn’t recognize downtown.
I am proud to say that we are well on our way. Just this week, you could feel the electricity from the large crowds as they enjoyed 4th of July Fireworks along the riverwalks in downtown Jacksonville. Riverfront Plaza is, and will remain, a gathering spot offering premier entertainment, world-class views, and prime access to all downtown has to offer.
For those like myself who grew up in Jacksonville, we can remember downtown fluctuating between being just shy of its potential and being down-right decrepit. My administration and our partners are tired of seeing downtown fall short.
Development is booming on both sides of the river, with residential, business, and recreational spaces getting added or updated on almost every block. Currently, nearly two billion dollars’ worth of projects are under construction in our downtown. Millions more have already been completed. My administration, with the help of City Council, the Downtown Investment Authority (DIA), and our many partners, are committed to turning downtown into a hub of prime entertainment, leisure, dining and retail.
An important part of growing our Downtown involves boosting Downtown’s residential population. My administration and our partners have been pushing for new residential units, and the number of units has nearly doubled since I took office. With almost 7,500 permanent residents in Downtown, we are helping to create an environment in which everyone can thrive.
My administration and our partners are committed to attracting prime talent to Jacksonville. More and more huge names have come to Jacksonville and are still on their way. We’re seeing major performers at Daily’s Place, the Vystar Veteran’s Memorial Arena, and the Jacksonville Center for the Performing Arts almost every weekend. Jacksonville is getting to host major events like UFC matches, the WWE, internationally renowned musicians, and regional sports matches, in addition to the wide array of teams and performers that call Jacksonville home.
Our current projects are spread throughout downtown and the urban core. Repairs to Friendship Fountain will be complete this summer, with additional upgrades completed next year. These upgrades include the addition of a new park, splash pad, snack shack, and will boast a fantastic state-of-the-art daily fountain show choreographed to music.
The massive Emerald Trail Project will link 30 miles of the Urban Core through mixed-use trails, parks and greenspace.
We are working to create a cluster of museums and family-friendly entertainment along the North bank, backing up to the exciting new Shipyards district. The Museum of Science and History (MOSH) is getting a complete overhaul. Its new building will be located on the North bank. The Fire Museum has moved to its original location. And right now, the new Jax Naval Museum, located on the U.S.S. Orleck, is moving to its permanent home at the Jacksonville Shipyards.
This past Spring, the Berkman II eyesore was finally brought down. Following years of stalemate and nuisance, my administration stepped in to ensure this property was demolished, opening up the prime riverfront real estate for an exciting new mixed-use development.
Major historic renovations, like the Laura Street Trio, are in the works to revitalize our downtown while preserving some of the beautiful architecture and culture that Jacksonville possesses. In 2020, DIA launched the Downtown Preservation and Revitalization Program, incentivizing developers to preserve and restore the historical buildings in our Urban Core.
The City of Jacksonville and our partners have heavily invested not only in facilitating projects, but in providing businesses of all sizes the tools and support needed to build up our downtown into a bustling center of commerce, culture, and entertainment. We are committed to laying the foundation for downtown’s growth and success well into future administrations.
It’s an honor to serve you and update you on these projects and progress. Thank you for your patience.
-Mayor Lenny Curry