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Jacksonville Beach wants new development, image

City planning redevelopment

It's been talked about for years, but city council members in Jacksonville Beach are getting serious about revamping the town to make more space for the growing economy and grow its family friendly atmosphere.

The "Downtown Action Plan" outlines all the different ways the city council would like to revitalize the area, from façade improvements to more parking and even ways to help the beach get a better safety reputation.

The council is currently in the workshop phase, which means that they are sharing ideas and really fine tuning the plan before they begin construction. But one city council member said he wants to see changes start sooner than later.

With parking being one of the biggest gripes from residents and visitors, the council is already looking into building a new parking garage on an empty lot in the area.

"That'll be a good start. Can we ever had enough parking? Probably not. But I think by adding some, it will help our visitors not get stressed out looking for parking," Keith Doherty, of the Jacksonville Beach City Council, said.

Doherty said the plan is to create retail space on the lower level, but there would be multiple levels for parking. He said in all, it would add about an additional 200 parking spots, which could help alleviate the parking problem.

But parking is just one of many changes the city wants to make.

"I think it's a balance we need. We can't have too much of just bars and restaurants. We need to have that balance of retail, ice cream stores, things that would be appealing to maybe younger or older folks," Doherty said.

Doherty also said the city is considering a tax incentive for new businesses to sway them in. He also said that cleaning up the city's image is another top priority to bring businesses in.

"There's always a police officer within a block or two of where you are. Sometimes you see them, sometimes you don't. I want to instill this sense of confidence in people when they come here that, hey, it's not a bad place," Doherty explained.

Residents interested in learning more about the city's plans can head to jacksonvillebeach.org/news/2015-downtown-action-plan to learn more.