Residents debate changing Jacksonville Landing

City Council wants more review before authorizing funds for project

By Kent Justice - Anchor/reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It could be the big redevelopment start of revitalizing Downtown Jacksonville, or it could be a big mistake.

The jury is out on plans to remake The Jacksonville Landing.

This week, the Jacksonville City Council asked for a more thorough review before authorizing almost $12 million in public money for the project.

Owner and developer Tony Sleiman said he wants to hear public opinion about proposed changes to the Landing. At this point, News4Jax is hearing calls for change -- and pleas to stay the same.

On Friday night people were enjoying live, free, country music to launch the Labor Day weekend at The Jacksonville Landing. That is the kind of atmosphere many people said they want to keep and they honestly don't want to see any changes like the proposals floating right now.

"I just like the Landing the way it is," Stan Wilson said. "I just think it'll take away from it, from this area."

"I think (the plan is) terrible," said Colby Isenberg. "This place has been around since I was a kid. (It's) an attraction for people to come, especially out of town. You go out of town and come here and ... enjoy the river, and you go in and shop, and you get to go in and eat and sit down. And you don't get that if you put parking spaces."

"I think the Landing project is vital," Sleiman said. "I mean, if you look at the public in the public comments that's going and the talk about it, Downtown is tired, and we need some revitalization."

Sleiman is behind the plans to redevelop the Landing. He told News4Jax on Friday that he truly wants to hear from all sides of the community on how they feel about changes.

"We like the features like the concert (and) all the shops, and we're going to dinner here before," said Bruce Haley. "(I say they should) keep it the same, just update it, make it more modern-looking, I guess."

"If you can improve on it, I think it would be great," said Walter Reynolds. "I think it's nice now, but if they could make it a little bit better, and ... I saw the plans for it. I think it's a great plan, apartments and have people living here. I think it's a great idea."

"I think we need something new," Jonathan Whaley said. "Bring more tourists, more money, more visitation. Because it's right by the river. I think new would be good for us."
Sleiman said he welcomes more input from the design community and agrees wit the City Council's position that the Landing is critical to Downtown Jacksonville's future.

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