A scheduled Friendship Fountain renovation was supposed to be finished this spring, but it hasn’t even started.
The city of Jacksonville now says renovation work on the Southbank landmark is expected to begin this spring and be finished by early 2022.
Friendship Fountain has experienced a number of mechanical failures and repairs over the years, limiting its function, but the city announced a plan in 2019 to invest $6 million to turn the fountain and surrounding park into a state-of-the-art arena for water and sound shows. It was envisioned as part of a comprehensive plan for activating the riverfront.
“We were looking for different thematic content and ways to activate different spaces that we already had along the riverfront,” Downtown Investment Authority CEO Lori Boyer told WJCT News at the time.
Boyer used to represent District 5, where the fountain is located, when she served on City Council. Now the project is overseen by the Parks Department, but as the head of the city’s downtown development authority, Boyer continues to watch the project with interest.
“I share some of the concern about why hasn’t it started and how quickly we are going to finish it,” Boyer said this week. “I have adjacent private developments that I am working with who are all counting on it being completed, and completed on a timeline.”
Neighboring properties include the River City Brewing Co., which is slated to be redeveloped into apartments, and the Museum of Science and History, which is planning a move to the Shipyards across the river.
According to Boyer, some of the delay was because the city can only give a certain amount of money to contractors in a fiscal year, and one of the fountain’s contractors had reached that limit. A delay in receiving parts also contributed, she said.
Friendship Fountain’s reconstruction will include a new fountain wall design, seating and integrated sound systems, pumps, lights and more.
The renderings in this story are very close to what the public will see, but Boyer said a few tweaks might be made as the design goes from concept to construction.
Contact Sydney Boles at email@example.com, or on Twitter at @sydneyboles.