The design to redo the Jacksonville Landing initially proposed by Developer Tony Sleiman and endorsed by Mayor Alvin Brown should be scrapped and given to an architect with an eye for something other than a downtown version of a strip shopping center.
The $11.8 million dollar design will add more empty space to a downtown that has been struggling for three decades to entice businesses to stay downtown and attract residents to reside downtown. There is nothing new or modern or enticing in this new proposal other than to put a new stamp on an old letter.
Unless the Mayor’s financial relationship with the City Council improves and the current $30 million budget hole is filled with something other than a direct tax on voters, the outlay can’t be justified. The $43 million expenditure for the cabana and swimming pool-laden EverBank Field at least was accompanied by $20-plus million of the Jaguars owner’s money. This bright idea will be totally on the backs, again, of the taxpayers most of whom won’t reside in the upscale apartments and may never visit the “greenscape” on the riverfront.
None of this is to say that the Jacksonville Landing shouldn’t get a makeover. It should. The idea of a clear path from State Street to the St. Johns River downtown is worth a shot. But to arrive at the river and be once more greeted with apartments, offices, and yes parking garages is not the best use of the property.
Get an architect with an innovative eye on what should be the next iconic view for Jacksonville’s downtown. This ain’t it.