Festival Marketplaces were viewed by American cities during the 1970s and 1980s as the leading one-trick pony concepts to turn around decaying downtowns.
If you've spent time in a couple of major cities across the country, you've probably been inside one. Underground Atlanta, Baltimore's Harbor Place, Boston's Faneuil Hall, Chicago's Navy Pier, New Orleans Riverwalk, Miami's Bayside, and NYC's South Street Seaport are all examples of festival marketplaces.
Characteristics of a successful marketplace were said to include having a right mix of shops and entertainment, adjacent to water and a large number of people nearby.
On June 25, 1987, the Rouse Company brought the frenzy to North Florida with the opening of the Jacksonville Landing. The two-level, 126,000 square foot festival marketplace featured a food court with 18 restaurants, waterfront restaurants and several national specialty retailers.
However, despite the fanfare, the center never lived up to its original expectations and failed to stimulate the revitalization of the Northbank.
Reinvigorating Festival Marketplaces
The Landing isn't the first festival marketplace to fail in achieving its original goal. Since the 1990s, several festival marketplaces in second tier downtowns across the country have had makeovers.