Lori Boyer named CEO of Downtown Investment Authority

Decision made as City Council voted to simplify downtown zoning

By Kent Justice - Anchor/reporter, Nick Jones - Digital producer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - In a unanimous decision, Jacksonville City Councilwoman Lori Boyer was selected Wedesday to lead the Downtown Investment Authority.

Boyer will enter a 30- to 60-day contract negotiation with the DIA board. She is term-limited and will leave the City Council on June 30, replacing interim CEO Brian Hughes.

Boyer was selected after three hours of public interviews with the DIA. She was selected over Gregory Flisram, senior vice president of the Ecominic Development Corp. of Kansas City, and Kevin Hanna, a real estate developer.

Simplified zoning downtown

Also in a unanimous vote, city leaders voted to update and simplify downtown zoning. The proposal was led by Boyer. The hope is to spur new development by changing the landscape for builders.

”I really think it is a major step forward to updating our downtown zoning overlay but also to streamline some things, and I hope we’ll see the impact of that going forward," Boyer said.

The updated zoning drops the number of districts from 11 to eight.

While some districts will remain the same, one of the biggest changes would be in the area around the stadium and the riverfront, which would form a new sports and entertainment district between the central core and the working waterfront.

$300M project would include amphitheather, restaurants, shops

During Wednesday's meeting, the Village Center proposal was discussed. The multimillion-dollar project near the St. Johns Town Center would have restaurants, shops, an amphitheater and a movie theater.

There’s an enormous infrastructure need. People living or working in the area worry about congestion and how expansion in an already busy area would change things.

No decision was made. The Village Center is slated to be built in the area of Interstate 295 and J. Turner Butler Boulevard.

Short-term rentals

The City Council has been considering a bill that would bring new regulations to Airbnb and other short-term rentals in Jacksonville.

A bill by Councilman Jim Love has been debated and could be amended. The bill discussed Wednesday night brought out the reasons for and against the changes during public comment.

"I’m in full agreement with the original bill as it was," said Duval County resident Denise Vaugeois, who spoke during public comment. "It was more protective of homeowners, the residents who live near these big vacation rentals. Those new changes don’t protect us at all."

”I ask you to oppose this bill or any version that does more than seek proper taxation and provide for redress for those who have the unfortunate experience with untoward short-term rental operators," said Duval County resident D.L. Cummings.

Decriminalizing marijuana

Councilman Garrett Dennis introduced an ordinance that would decriminalize marijuana, allowing officers to issue a civil citation for possessing less than 20 grams of pot, as opposed to being arresting offenders.

Dennis is scheduled to hold his first "noticed" meeting on the bill at 10 a.m. Thursday.

If the bill were to pass, someone found to have that amount of marijuana could either pay the fine or perform 10 hours of community service at a local agency.

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