JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If the city gets full control of the Jacksonville Landing, the aging riverfront mall could be replaced with a sprawling urban park.
Mayor Lenny Curry and his executive leadership team had conceptual discussions that led to the rendering, which shows an expansive mix of green space and pedestrian paths on the almost six-acre site where the Landing stands, according to the Jacksonville Daily Record.
The design was created in the wake of the most recent salvo in an ongoing legal battle with Sleiman Enterprises, which owns the Landing, but leases the property from the city. The two sides are in litigation, with Sleiman claiming breach of contract and the city trying to evict their tenant from the property.
That’s why Curry and his team have come up with a new idea for what should happen if the city gets control of the property when the current litigation is resolved.
The buildings, which currently hold a few restaurants and many vacant stores, would be gone. The site concept shows green space and a riverfront park. The rendering of what the city might do with the property keeps boat docks along the river, but shows walking and bike paths, with two buildings set back from the water with the potential for rooftop use.
"That is our Riverfront Plaza," Curry said. "That is our front lawn, our front yard."
Curry said the deteriorating Landing is not giving the taxpayers a fair return for the use of the land.
"Whether that is residential, retail, commercial, the market will have to drive that," Curry said. "There will be opportunities I would expect for existing businesses that have a business model that they believe (would) work there."
People in the area like what they were shown.
"We need to have something out here that would attract people," said Myron Allen, who works downtown. "I think something like that would attract people because Jacksonville now seems like the people are trying to be more fit. The bike trails and walking trails would be a good idea."
"It’s vacant. It’s really empty. There’s really not a lot going on," said Jité Ebureu, walks downtown regularly. "I think it’s going to be a good idea if they have something better."
Many people said they try to avoid the Landing because of too many homeless people around the building throughout the day. Curry said that isn’t something that should stop the desire to improve what he calls the most recognizable spot in Jacksonville.
Curry said that because things are still in litigation with the current leaseholder, there isn’t a timeline on how soon any of this could happen. There's also no funding in place to overhaul the property.
However, Curry said he is excited about the potential for some movement on this property, as well as growing downtown from the Fuller Warren Bridge all the way down to the sports complex.