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'State of Downtown' is growth, potential, report says

Downtown Vision says over $1.5 billion invested in Jacksonville last year

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A "State of Downtown" report released Tuesday by Downtown Vision, Inc., shows more than $1 billion has been invested in the downtown area of Jacksonville.

The 18-month summary on the state and growth of Downtown Jacksonville provides details on development successes and announcements, office and employment trends, residential growth, retail mix, arts and culture, tourism, transportation and more.

According to the report, Downtown's commercial occupancy rate is at 81.4 percent, the highest it's been since 2007, and the total number of residential units Downtown is at 4,126, which includes 604 high-end apartments added last year in Brooklyn.

When Downtown Vision CEO Jacob Gordon looks at Downtown Jacksonville, he sees a lot of growth and even more potential.

READ: Full State of Downtown report from Dowtown Vision, Inc.

He said the River City is up and coming and highlighted numbers to prove it.

“Compared to 2013 and 2014, 2015 was an amazing year for Downtown,” Gordon said. “And then you look forward and you're really excited.”

According to the State of Downtown report for 2015, more than $1.5 billion was invested into Jacksonville in 2015 alone.

That includes $221 million in developments that have already been complete, and $471 million being put into 25 developments right now.

But what about future investments?

The report shows more than $800 million worth of proposed projects, including 64 percent mixed-use projects, 22 percent transportation projects, 8 percent residential projects and 3 percent hotel projects.

Another 2 percent are retail project and 1 percent are civic.

The proposals range from shipyard revitalization to a Burrito Gallery opening up Downtown to improvements to the Fuller Warren Bridge. Each one, giving business owners hope, Gordon said.

“I'm really encouraged by Mayor (Lenny) Curry's leadership. He said a couple times that you can't be a suburb to nowhere, and that's really important for us in terms of our Urban Core,” Gordon said. “The better our Urban Core is, I really believe the better our city is.”

Gordon said his nonprofit is also pushing for voters to approve Curry's half-cent pension tax referendum. He said if money is available, public dollars would be invested Downtown, bringing more businesses and therefore more jobs and residents to Downtown.

“With more residents we will have more stakeholders for the community, and there will be more amenities for everyone, so all of the great restaurants like Sweet Pete's that you love, they would have more business on nights and weekends,” Gordon said. “Right now in Downtown it's only 9 to 5, but that's one of the things that we're actively trying to change.”