UNF Poll: 'Why Don't You Go Downtown?'
There are mixed feelings when it comes to the reputation of downtown Jacksonville.
A poll conducted by the University of North Florida for J Magazine and the Times-Union found 51 percent of residents from Clay, Duval, Nassau, St. Johns counties think the downtown area is either getting worse or staying the same, while 37 percent believe the downtown area is actively improving.
But Downtown Vision’s CEO Jake Gordon said these numbers shouldn’t come as a surprise.
“Historically, I think that a lot of people in our community don’t come downtown but there is a lot of push to make downtown better,” Gordon said.
Places like Intuition Brewery and Daily’s Place, and events such as Art Walk, are some of the features Gordon said that make the downtown area attractive to visitors.
Still, more than 25 percent of Northeast Florida residents said they’ve never been downtown for entertainment purposes. The majority of those who never visited downtown for leisure — 51 percent — were ages 65 and older, while 42 percent were ages 55 to 64.
Of those who don’t frequent Jacksonville’s downtown, 34 percent said it’s because there is “nothing to do there/no reason to go” and 21 percent said it’s too “dangerous/too much crime.” Gordon said it’s this perception that has to change.
“There’s still a lot of people in our community that just haven't caught up with all the great things that are going on downtown and I think we need to do a better job of letting them know that,” he said.
The most popular reasons to visit downtown include concerts (38 percent), dining (30 percent), and sporting events (28 percent). Only 4 percent visit downtown for the The Landing and 7 percent visit for museums.
Gordon said if more people knew about events and attractions downtown, more people would come downtown.
“I always say that one of the things that downtown needs is more people,” Gordon said, “A lot of the things people say aren’t great about downtown could be solved with more people. If there were a lot of other people downtown, they would come.”
Jacksonville residents indicated the biggest opportunities for downtown improvement include more attractions (16 percent), more police (14 percent), and better parking (13 percent).
Tiffany Salameh can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @tiffanysalameh