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DIA Launches Design Competition For Former Jacksonville Landing Site

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BILL BORTZFIELD / WJCT NEWS
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A design competition is being held for the grassy area now called Riverfront Plaza, which is the site of the former Jacksonville Landing.

The Jacksonville Downtown Investment Authority is taking design proposals to develop Riverfront Plaza, the grassy area where the Jacksonville Landing shopping mall complex stood for more than 30 years.

The designs must include what the city calls “a visually extraordinary public space,” as well as public art. The DIA will also consider resilience to climate change in the designs.

Three firms selected as finalists this spring will participate in a competition where they present their plans at a public workshop later this year.

“We dedicated a lot of time and effort to prepare a scope and assign evaluation points that both reflect the significance of the site and effectively capture the critical requirements and input needed to activate this premiere space on our beautiful Riverwalk. We look forward to reviewing the submissions come March and wish all interested parties the best of luck,” said DIA CEO Lori Boyer in an email to WJCT News.

The city hopes construction will begin a year from now, in January 2022.

Although the design competition is aimed creating a public space, that doesn’t mean the city has ruled out private development on at least a portion of the property.

The DIA wrote: “They will showcase their vision for the plaza, including how their design would interface with the future private development.”

The city has seen several visions for redeveloping the Landing property over the years. Among the more recent was a visioning excercise in 2015 that produced ideas for everything from restaurants and apartments to a museum.

Rendering from 2015 visioning exercise to redevelop the former Jacksonville Landing.
Credit PROVIDED BY DORIS GOLDSTEIN
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Rendering from 2015 visioning exercise to redevelop the former Jacksonville Landing.

When Mayor Lenny Curry started negotiating with former Landing owner Toney Sleiman in 2018 to buy the now-demolished Landing buildings, his office floated the idea of park with two structures.

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Credit JACKSONVILLE PARKS & RECREATION DEPARTMENT / VIA JACKSONVILLE DAILY RECORD
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This rendering from Jacksonville's Parks and Recreation Department illustrates a vision for the land where The Jacksonville Landing stood. It was released by the Mayor's Office in 2018.

This spring, the Main Street Bridge ramp next Riverfront Plaza is scheduled to be demolished, opening up more room for development.

Firms interested in submitting designs can contact Dustin Freeman at dfreeman@coj.net. A non-mandatory pre-bid conference will be held via Zoom on January 29 at 11 a.m.

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Credit Will Dickey / The Florida Times-Union
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The Florida Times-Union
The ramp for traffic and pedestrians next to the site where The Jacksonville Landing formerly stood is scheduled to be demolished.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org, or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.

Sydney Boles can be reached at sboles@wjct.org or on Twitter at @sydneyboles