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More access points coming for new Riverwalk

Access points to store fronts not originally added along Southbank Riverwalk

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The new Southbank Riverwalk has been open for almost seven months, but residents have expressed concern about a lack of access points on and off the riverwalk.

Before the new riverwalk was built, stores near the newly named Lexington Hotel had direct access to it. That access was part of an old lease agreement, but when the new riverwalk was built, those access points were not included.

City Council members said they are working to solve that problem, even though most of the shops now sit vacant.

"In the past when the old wooden Riverwalk was there, they could literally step out their back door right onto the Riverwalk," Public Works Director Jim Robinson. "And with the new structure (having water on both sides), that didn't exist anymore, so we had to re-create it the best we could, which is a solution that is in hand at the moment."

Robinson said the city plans to make some changes so the store fronts are more accessible from the riverwalk. He said the delay in building the access points has been because the property has recently changed ownership and there was some confusion.

Once the details are ironed out, the changes could take about two months to complete.

"This has always been on the plate as far as the improvements of the riverwalk," Robinson said. "The delay has been solely related to the ownership transition and problems there that has just taken time."

The changes will be welcomed by many visitors, including Crystal Guimond.

"We've been confused and walking in circles for the last half-hour," Guimond said. "We are trying to get to the bridge and found some steps that went nowhere."

The additions will cost about $160,000, which will be paid by the city.

For now, City Council has deferred the measure that would fund the project until after the city budget is finalized and the ownership situation is clarified.


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