Petition Drive Urges Council To Delay Demolishing Jacksonville Landing

Mar 25, 2019

Slow down.

That’s the message of more than 1,000 people who have signed a petition urging the City Council to not rush to demolish The Jacksonville Landing.

Petition organizer Amy Smith said on Monday that Jacksonville has a bad record of demolishing buildings without having a follow up plan in place and doesn’t want the Landing to become the latest example.

“I think that we really need to, to evaluate resources, what other cities have done, and just open it up and talk about it, just create a discussion,” said Smith.

City Council is expected to approve legislation Tuesday for a $15 million city buyout of the Landing along with $1.5 million for relocating tenants and another $1.5 million for demolition.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, who spearheaded the deal, floated the idea of an urban park in the location last summer, but to date no such park proposal has been introduced or its cost estimated.

Smith agrees something needs to done with the Landing but doesn’t see a need to be in a rush to demolish it.

“Let’s look at – you know – developers. Let’s put it on the market, let the market take care of it,” said Smith.

“A park does not bring in any kind of revenue whatsoever. And let's talk about what kind of park is he [Mayor Curry] going to have? Is he creating jogging trails? And, you know, exercise trails and great landscaping? Or is he going to throw some grass up and call it a riverfront park,” Smith asked.

This rendering from Jacksonville's Parks and Recreation Department illustrates a vision for the land where The Jacksonville Landing stands today.
Credit Jacksonville Parks & Recreation Department / Via Jacksonville Daily Record

Smith is also concerned about transparency. She said she has heard there will be no opportunity for public comment at Tuesday’s City Council meeting before the expected vote.

WJCT News reached out to City Council President Aaron Bowman about whether public comment will be allowed at Tuesday’s meeting in advance of a vote but he did not respond to voice mail or email requests.

Our Jacksonville Daily Record news partner reported last week that Downtown Investment Authority interim CEO Brian Hughes said Wednesday that the 32-year-old riverfront marketplace could be razed in four to six months.

The Jacksonville Landing
Credit Bill Bortzfield / WJCT News

“That’s plenty of time for the administration, Council, DIA and community stakeholders to really have a discussion about what to do next,” said Hughes, who is also chief of staff for Mayor Curry.

Smith countered, “Let’s not rush this.” She also pointed out other cities have successfully redeveloped their riverfront marketplaces, with Miami’s Bayside Marketplace being one example.

For a look at what other cities have done to redevelop their festival marketplaces, see this story from The Jaxson.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.