JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – While crews took a break Sunday from demolishing the Jacksonville Landing, people out and about took the time to pause to look at the transformation.
Crews began the tear-down process in October, but only of recent is it apparent. The riverfront mall in downtown Jacksonville has become, partly, a pile of mangled metal.
“In the early days, in my younger days, it was definitely a happening spot, a very good place to go. This is such a wonderful area though. It’s a shame to see it go to waste like that,” Orange Park resident Chris Fonner said Sunday. “In order to make it an anchor area, you need something that brings the people in, so how about a pavilion for local music. We have Daily’s (Place) for the big acts, but for schools, local performers, where you can perform and draw people down for plays and a community amphitheater."
News4Jax spoke with Fonner and others about what they think should happen to the property.
“I think the Landing was a corner of Jacksonville pretty much since I was a kid. I think the demise of it is because we mismanaged it. If we would have managed it better, made improvements sooner, renovated it earlier, we could have kept it around. Now it’s gone and I don’t think we have a plan that will make it actively better,” Murray Hill resident Anthony Rogers said. “I would like to turn it into a strip like NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana), run it all the way down Bay Street, Water Street and connect it -- something with entertainment. We need entertainment downtown. We have nothing.”
Cellphone video from last week shows crews continuing to tear down the iconic structure. The city, which owned the land but not the building, took over the longtime landmark in February as part of a $15 million deal with Sleiman Enterprises.
“I think this should be more for the people to come down here,” Jacksonville resident Robert Deveau said. “This should bring attraction to Jacksonville because downtown is not where’s it’s at. I will tell you that right now.”
Though it’s still unclear what the property will become next, the entire demolition project is scheduled to be done by May or June 2020.