Downtown Jacksonville growing thanks to pre-pandemic investments

Downtown Jacksonville is growing, thanks to investments made before the pandemic
Downtown Jacksonville is growing, thanks to investments made before the pandemic

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Downtown Jacksonville is growing. Proof of progress is in the 2019-2020 State of Downtown report that shows nearly $3 billion in projects under construction and $530 million in projects completed.  This includes residential, office, retail, parks and trails, infrastructure and medical. 

A majority of the data examined was collected pre-pandemic, but the study covered from January 2019 to June 2020. 

While almost everyone and every business has been forced to pivot during the pandemic, the same applies for nonprofits, a sector of our society we often do not think about when it comes to economic evaluations. 

“I don’t think we should forget about that. That’s the hard part,” said Linda Crofton, the Director of Community Development for Cathedral District JAX (CDJ). “Everybody is sort of isolated, inside. We really don’t hear much about what nonprofits are doing: out of sight, out of mind.  It’s very important we start talking about the needs of these nonprofits because they are all suffering.”

Crofton said she builds community in tandem with real estate projects.

“CDJ got its start from buying the property which was a total square block,” she said. “We sold the property and the building to Vestcor and they are developing an apartment that has three levels of income; so you have market rate, middle-income rate and then lower income; mixed income.  It’s going to be four stories, 130 units, parking garage underneath.”

Crofton’s work focuses exclusively on the Cathedral District, which runs 36 blocks from Adams to State streets and Main Street to Hogans Creek.

“This neighborhood is sort of peaceful because it hasn’t had a lot of development, so it’s sort of like a clean slate,” Crofton said. “Long-term, we have plans to utilize Hogans Creek as well.”

Elena Flats at 122 E. Duval Street will soon be ready to be lived in, thanks to Joann Tredennick, the owner of the quad-plex. 

“In 2015, this building was at risk for being demolished and we decided we could save it. So our mission is to save and restore Elena Flats and have it restored back to its original configuration of four apartments,” Tredennick said. “This is an effort of civic philanthropy. This makes no economic sense under normal real estate development objectives. We will have way more invested in this building than we will earn in the near future; but it is an investment for us, our city and neighborhood.”

Tredennick said the goal is to get to a critical mass of people living downtown, which will bring in more services, small grocery stores and store front businesses to serve the residents.

According to the report, the number of residents living downtown has also increased to more than 6,100 -- up 18%. 

Cultural and entertainment offerings are also on the rise, according to the report.

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