JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – 2018 saw LaVilla become a popular destination for downtown development proposals, the death of the USS Adams dream and more media coverage on mega projects that have failed to actually break ground in Jacksonville's urban core. Looking forward to 2019, here are five trends, projects or issues that have the potential to change the urban core as we know it.
Boutique hotels add fuel to downtown’s fire
Seventeen years have passed since the last hotel opened its doors in Downtown Jacksonville. After years of sitting on the sidelines, downtown’s hotel dry spell is about to come to an end. According to Tourism Economics, boutique hotels made up a quarter of all hotel rooms under construction in the country in 2017.
Seen as cost-effective expansion into up-and-coming areas that aren’t overpriced and popular for their authenticity with travelers, boutique hotels opening in second-tier destinations have become a mainstream of the hotel industry.
By the end of 2019, projects involving Hotel Indigo, Hyatt Place, Courtyard by Marriott, Residence Inn by Marriott and La Quinta Inn & Suites could all be under construction, with four of the five listed being located in the heart of the Northbank. This cluster of bedrooms housing hundreds of guests ready to spend money in downtown’s restaurants, bars and retail storefronts will bring an extra level of pedestrian scale vibrancy that hasn’t been seen in the area since the close of downtown’s flagship department stores.
Rail Yard District activity heats up
Located west of Interstate 95, the Rail Yard District has long been one of the most overlooked historic areas in the city. Well, those days are long gone. Over the year, area property owners, businesses and residents have banded together in an effort to promote the district for the economic and cultural powerhouse that it is.
Bursting with local flavor, gritty and authentic, the Rail Yard District offers a pure slice of Jacksonville in a contextual environment that can’t be replicated in the rest of the state. It’s also an officially designated Opportunity Zone. With a re-branding effort underway, expect to see this wholesale district continue its push into becoming a notable market-oriented district in 2019.