Report: Surge in growth downtown, demand for living high

Downtown, David Podiva
Downtown, David Podiva

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Downtown Vision, an organization that studies the growth of Downtown Jacksonville, released its annual study Wednesday.

According to the association, the most significant trend was the surge in development projects. In 2017, more than $3.5 billion in projects were completed, under construction or proposed.

Between 2000 and 2016, about $2.5 billion in projects were completed, Downtown Vision said. It concluded Downtown Jacksonville is on track to quickly beat the progress of the last 17 years combined thanks in part to a number of public-private partnerships.

READ: 2017 State of Downtown report

Downtown Vision said additional highlights from the report include:

  • The Downtown Investment Authority is catalyzing investment in the urban core. To date, the authority’s programs that have created 950 jobs and have incentivized more than $300 million in investment. In 2017, this led to a year-over-year increase of 18% in ad valorem taxes collected.
  • Demand for Downtown living is high. Residential units are 96% occupied. More than 900 units are under construction and 2,400 units are proposed. In addition, more than 86% of residents have a favorable opinion of living Downtown.
  • The office market is extremely competitive among major Florida downtowns. Year-over-year, Downtown’s office vacancy rate has decreased by almost 5% to 14.3%, the lowest since 2000. The average lease rate per square foot in Downtown is up almost 2% to $20.23, yet highly competitive among Florida metropolises.
  • Universities are infusing Downtown with a new student base. Florida State College of Jacksonville recently opened the new flagship cafe of their Culinary Art And Hospitality Department in the heart of Downtown and is putting the final touches on student dorms in the floors above. Jacksonville University opened its Downtown Campus in the SunTrust Tower for students of business, healthcare sciences and professional studies, and has announced plans to move it’s Film School to WJCT. Meanwhile, the University of North Florida will open its Coggin College of Business satellite campus and Entrepreneurship Center in the Barnett Building.
  • Public transportation options are greatly expanding. JTA’s First Coast Flyer, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is adding routes, and the Greyhound Intercity Bus Terminal recently opened as phase one of the Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center. Meanwhile, the City is moving forward on numerous plans to make Downtown more pedestrian and bike-friendly.
  • All three of Downtown’s four-star hotels have been renovated in the last five years and five additional hotels have been proposed as of 2017.

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