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Jacksonville Downtown Investment Authority: Pension Debt Slows Projects


Downtown Jacksonville projects could move along much more quickly if Jacksonville voters approve a half-cent sales tax extension. That’s what the city’s Downtown Investment Authority CEO Aundra Wallace told a real-estate group Tuesday.

The professional group CREW Jacksonville hosted other community members at the Riverplace Club downtown to hear from Wallace.

He presented DIA’s 10-year plan investment plan, which includes:

He says the transformation of Brooklyn in Riverside, including the addition of restaurants, a Fresh Market grocery store and housing, is attracting investors.

“It says to the capital markets that are looking to make investments, ‘Look at Jacksonville because look at what they did,’” he said. “And these are other additional projects that we could take a look at, and there’s success there, and so you play off of your success. You play off of your strengths.”

He says partnering with the private sector is key, especially beacuse the city has $2.6 billion of unfunded pension debt. A project like the Shipyards is purely a DIA-City of Jacksonville partnership.

“The resolution to the pension is key to a different Jacksonville as a whole, certainly to a different downtown Jacksonville,” Wallace said. “It takes investment dollars to move some of these projects, and we’re going to need capital to do it. And we can’t do it now. We can only do it once the city gets its house in order.”

Wallace says he envisions connecting the LaVailla neighborhood to the urban core, which connects to Brooklyn.

But he says the project he’s most excited about is the 30-acre site that will become The District. He says a project that large will set Jacksonville apart.  

To hear more from Aundra Wallace and about downtown development, join us in our studio as we tape a town-hall-style conversation, "Community Thread: Downtown Developing." The show tapes Thursday, Feb. 11, and airs on WJCT Public Television on Thurs., Feb. 18.

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.