We’ve heard time and time again that Jacksonville’s downtown is really about to take off.
But as Jacksonville Daily Record Editor Karen Mathis says, this time, it’s not a drill.
She talked with WJCT News Director Jessica Palombo about downtown’s redevelopment tipping point in this week’s Business Brief.
Mathis said the past month has been truly extraordinary. Since the end of June alone:
- The deal closed on The District
- The unfinished Berkman Plaza II sold
- The former Ambassador Hotel sold
- The BB&T Tower sold
- 120 E. Forsyth St. was sold to become nightlife
- Ron Chamblin, owner of Chamblin’s Uptown on Laura Street, announced he’s developing a neighboring building into apartments
- IT services company SharedLabs, Inc. announced it’s leasing the fourth floor of the Dyal-Upchurch Building and hiring more than 100 people
- The former Morton’s Steakhouse land on the Southbank sold
That’s all within one month.
“I think there’s some coincidence, but there is a connection,” Mathis said. “Two of these projects — specifically, Berkman and The District — had been a long time coming, and the city has been working very diligently and trying to get those two projects off the ground.”
Helped along by city negotiations and — for The District, city incentives— the projects are a huge catalyst for other development, Mathis said.
“Some of the buyers of these other properties have told me that’s why they’re buying in downtown Jacksonville,” Mathis said.
But whether the development deals continue at such a rapid pace will depend on optics, she said.
“When do the cranes set up? When we see that, I think we’re going to see a lot more momentum,” she said.