Mayor approves Downtown Investment Authority board

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Nine members of the Jacksonville community are now authorized to begin work as the first board of directors for the new Downtown Investment Authority.

Mayor Alvin Brown signed the resolutions Monday to enact the nine appointments. The City Council confirmed all of the selections Oct. 9.

In addition, Brown announced that Donald Harris will serve as chairman of the authority's board. The first meeting is scheduled for Wedenesday at 2 p.m. in City Hall.

"The DIA marks an important step in making Jacksonville the most vibrant and competitive city it can be," Brown said. "We already have a great deal of momentum that's increasing our city's heartbeat. I'm excited to see this talented group engage with stakeholders to build even more jobs, launch more special events and refine the brand that shows who we are to the rest of the world."

Harris is the general manager of the Wyndham Jacksonville Riverwalk Hotel on the Southbank. Harris has more than 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry and has been active on the boards of Visit Jacksonville, Downtown Vision Inc. and Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce.

The DIA resulted from Brown's plans to refocus the city's economic development functions, according to a city news release. City Council approved the creation of the DIA by a unanimous vote on Aug. 15. The legislation establishing the nine-member board includes five appointments from the mayor, with the remaining four coming from the council president.

Brown has charged the DIA with carrying out an action plan for downtown, according to the release. The authority is a key component of the mayor's economic development strategy and will be responsible for creating and managing business development, recruitment and marketing plans in the downtown area, according to the release. The legislation gives the DIA powers, established under Florida law, to use Community Redevelopment Area resources to revitalize downtown.

The DIA continues the Brown administration's economic development reform efforts after the City Council, the Florida Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott each approved a transformation of the former Jacksonville Economic Development Commission into the Office of Economic Development and the DIA.

Guidelines established in the DIA legislation specify that members of the board have substantive ties to downtown and be Duval County residents. Six of the nine members must be either a downtown resident, a downtown retail operator, a downtown property owner, a member of the banking or finance industry, a person with business management experience, a practicing attorney, a person with commercial real estate experience, an architect or an urban planner.

Brown's selections for the DIA board are:

  • Melody S. Bishop –- An architect with Akel, Logan & Shafer who serves on the AIA Florida Board of Directors and the Florida Foundation for Architecture Board of Trustees. Her firm is located in the downtown area.
  • Robert M. Clements –- Chairman and CEO of EverBank, which recently relocated 1,500 employees to the new EverBank Center in downtown.
  • Kamaria (Kay) Harper –- A practicing attorney with the Harper Law Firm and a downtown resident.
  • Paul Perez –- Former U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida and current Chief Compliance Officer for Fidelity National Financial, which is located in the downtown area.
  • Donald Harris -– General manager of the Wyndham Jacksonville Riverwalk Hotel, which is located on the Southbank.

Council President Bill Bishop's selections for the DIA board are:

  • Antonio Allegretti -– Southbank resident with business management experience as the founding director of the Riverside Arts Market and a partner in downtown's Burrito Gallery restaurant. Currently serving as the Director of Downtown Engagement for the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce.
  • James F. Bailey Jr. -– Downtown business and property owner as the President of Bailey Publishing and Communications and Publisher of The Financial News & Daily Record.
  • Oliver Barakat –- A senior vice president for CBRE who represented EverBank in the company's recent move of 1,500 employees downtown to the former AT&T Tower.
  • Donald A. Shea –- Urban planner who serves as the executive director of the nonpartisan Jacksonville Civic Council and has extensive experience in economic development, including service as the executive director of the Shreveport Downtown Development Authority and President and CEO of the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership.

Copyright 2012 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.