As Jacksonville officials grapple with how to preserve the city’s African-American history, council members are debating whether to protect one Northside neighborhood.
Northshore — a historically-black area along the Trout River — could get a historic designation like parts of the urban core already have.
The neighborhood came into its own in the mid-20th Century when its Victorian-style homes were filled in with smaller houses for Jacksonville’s growing middle class, according to our partner Modern Cities.
Now Northshore is seeing growth in new home construction, but Councilman Sam Newby said locals have expressed worry the development is eroding its historic character.
“They approached me because they were concerned about new buildings coming in and building bigger homes,” he said. “So, that’s kind of how all of this got started because we kind of want to keep the neighborhood the same.”
Councilwoman Ju’Coby Pittman also co-chaired the city’s recently disbanded Task Force on Civil Rights History. She said Northshore preservation deserves to be a part of the city’s larger preservation plan, which could include the historic neighborhoods of LaVilla and Durkeeville.
“Moving forward and hearing what the constituents want at Northshore, it’s important, as well as in Durkeeville, that we preserve the legacy of our community,” she said.
That could mean creating the city’s first “conservation district” in Northshore. That designation is more lenient than a historic district, allowing homeowners more individual choice, and Pittman says the area’s many senior citizens will likely appreciate fewer regulations.
The councilwoman plans to talk about both options soon at town hall meetings.
City planners say the first step to getting a district created is a neighborhood assessment. That could require applying for a state grant to fund the study.