Checking in on Jacksonville’s park development along St. Johns River

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Park development along the St. Johns River downtown is one of the major programs slated for Jacksonville. The city has been talking for years about new parks and changes to old ones like Metropolitan Park.

Work has started on some projects but there is much more to be done.

At Metropolitan Park, the city is hoping to bring it back to its old glory. The park has been in disarray since Hurricane Irma did major damage to the docks and waterfront. Now the city is looking to have the park redeveloped. Plans are in the works to spend over a million dollars for redevelopment.

A report from the mayor’s budget review says they are looking for a developer who could reimagine the park space to maintain the option for large ticketed events while providing flexible space with a variety of active and passive uses.

The selected developer would work with other groups, such as the Jesse Ball Dupont Fund and the Jags, which are also planning development at the park.

There’s another aspect of Metro Park’s redevelopment: It’s where Shad Khan and his development company, Iguana Investments, are planning to build a luxury hotel and office complex for the Shipyards project. To do that, Kids Kampus and the fire museum had to be moved.

It’s now near the Maxwell House plant and the Sheriff’s Office headquarters. Work is underway for that park design, which is now known as the Museum District. The USS Orleck will eventually move to the area, along with the Museum of Science and History, as well as the relocated fire museum.

Further down the river along the Northbank, some major repairs have been made along the bulkhead by the Civic Auditorium and the old Jacksonville Landing site, now called Riverfront Park. The city’s public works department is doing more infrastructure work in the area.

Eventually, there’s going to be a new riverfront park that might contain a controversial “Jax” statue and private development -- with apartments and retail.

Across the river on the Southbank, major repairs and upgrades to Friendship Fountain are almost done. A report to the mayor’s office said other upgrades to the area won’t be ready until early next year.

There is also private development, such as housing, retail and restaurant planned at the marina and former River City Brewery site.

Down the river from Friendship Fountain is Rivers Edge, which used to be known as The District. It will be a major housing and retail development. They’re working on the infrastructure now, but the city is also going to put a park in the middle by the river. Discussions about the design elements of that are currently underway. Budget talks about the park are also taking place.

Much of these are still in the planning stage and many of those plans could change in the coming year because the city will have a new mayor in July and City Council elections will also take place.

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.