In our role as the Business Improvement District (BID) for Downtown Jacksonville, we live our mission of helping make “DTJax” a better place to live, work, visit and invest. In FY2023, we formulated nine guiding principles to improve Downtown, drawing from our day-to-day work in Downtown; our partnerships with the City of Jacksonville, the Downtown Investment Authority and civic collaborators; insights gained from consultant-led focus groups involving community leaders and developers; subject matter experts on Mayor Deegan’s Downtown subcommittee, as well as surveys targeting residents, employees and visitors.
In no particular order, these principles are designed to help Downtown’s public and private partners stay true to what will be most beneficial, as we continue to work together for the betterment of the heart of our city.
1. Implementation of (and ample funding for) the City’s Downtown Master Plan (including the Downtown Investment Authority and its CRA Plan and BID Plan)
Public investment is a transformative force in creating the Downtown we all want. Supporting the implementation of the City’s Downtown Master Plan, which includes the DIA’s CRA Plan and BID Plan requires adequate funding, streamlined processes, strategic advocacy and strengthened capacities within the DIA.
2. A strong sense of place through public investment and meticulous maintenance
Public investment and meticulous maintenance are essential to creating a strong sense of place. “Curb appeal” is an essential factor in economic development and requires strong pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, ample and well maintained public realm assets—including lighting, signage and landscaping— and vibrant, active parks. Enhancing the visual appeal, functionality and overall atmosphere of Downtown attracts residents, businesses and visitors alike.
3. A welcoming environment where absolutely everyone feels safe
Ensuring a welcoming and safe environment for everyone is a priority. Coordinated efforts, targeted homelessness outreach, enhanced security measures, and investments in infrastructure and lighting work together to create a downtown that feels inviting and inclusive.
4. More things to do! (ex. restaurants, retail, culture, events & tourism amenities)
Diverse cultural, entertainment and recreational offerings and activated public places foster a distinctive identity and a sense of place that resonates with residents and visitors. Strategic investments, regulatory and permitting adjustments, and community engagement are proposed to achieve this and make Downtown an exciting destination.
5. An accessible and connected Downtown focused on people not cars
A shift from car-centric urban design to a people-centric approach is crucial. Prioritizing pedestrians, bicycles and public transportation creates an accessible, safe, well-connected and environmentally sustainable Downtown that enhances well-being and quality of life.
6. A resilient and historically preserved Downtown
Balancing historical preservation with forward-looking resiliency strategies is key. Preserving historic buildings contributes to the character of Downtown, and being prepared for climate change impacts ensures a vibrant and connected environment for the future.
7. Eased barriers to development (ex. streamlined permitting & incentive support)
Addressing barriers in development requires streamlined permitting, robust funding incentive support, requirement flexibility, and coordination between City departments to stimulate economic growth, accommodate diverse projects, and transform the urban landscape.
8. A more livable Downtown with all the things that contribute to overall well-being
A plentiful and diverse residential base supports the Downtown ecosystem and is critical to Downtown’s success. A livable Downtown requires well-maintained infrastructure, thoughtful urban planning, affordable housing, quality jobs, educational resources, and medical services, and great third places. A thriving community with a strong sense of belonging, safety, connectivity, and overall well-being, will cultivate a prosperous Downtown.
9. Downtown is Different
Rules, plans and standards should reflect Downtown’s unique character, dense environment, walkability and public transit options.
Published: January 2024