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Does Jacksonville need a convention center? City leaders say no.

A view of Downtown Jacksonville from Friendship Fountain.
Bill Bortzfield
A view of Downtown Jacksonville from Friendship Fountain.

A Tampa-based development group pitched a plan Thursday for a new convention center on Bay Street in downtown Jacksonville. But City Council members weren’t thrilled about the idea. 

Lori Boyer with the Downtown Investment Authority says the city already shot down a downtown convention center idea in 2018 because restaurants and other types of development were a higher priority. 

"It was not an expenditure that we were prioritizing at that point in time in light of the other necessities for downtown and that we really needed to build up the restaurants, the entertainment venues, the activation level downtown before we were expending that kind of money on a convention center," Boyer said. 

She said things haven’t changed enough since then to make a convention center feasible now. The City Council members at a special meeting agreed with her.

They said a new convention center probably won’t make sense for Jacksonville until at least five to 10 years down the road. 

Claire joined WJCT as a reporter in August 2021. She was previously the local host of NPR's Morning Edition at WUOT in Knoxville, Tennessee. During her time in East Tennessee, her coverage of the COVID pandemic earned a Public Media Journalists’ Association award for investigative reporting. You can reach Claire at (904) 250-0926 or on Twitter @ClaireHeddles.