JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jax River Jams concert series has entered its third week.
Many are wondering what’s next for the former site of the Jacksonville Landing, but are excited about the concert series the city has brought in the meantime.
Some people like the idea of an aquarium, others want to see local art incorporated into the design at the old Landing site.
Sidnie Anthony works for a local non-profit Hope at Hand, which provides art and poetry sessions to vulnerable populations for kids K-12.
Anthony likes what she’s seeing change in downtown so far.
“I’m liking how all the parks are getting renovated...I want to see more stuff like live music to get more people together,” Anthony said.
She attended the Jax River Jams series on April 15 and says she wants to see other events like it in the future.
Timothy Gibbons, editor-in-chief at the Jacksonville Business Journal says several groups have submitted bids to build at the Riverfront Plaza.
“14 firms applied. Three firms were picked to basically come up with preliminary designs. The city is coming at it with a different approach than with big projects in the past,” Gibbons said.
Gibbons says the designs would be evaluated by the public and the Downtown Investment Authority. He says the goal is that stakeholders can pick a design rather than a firm so they have a better idea of what the future Landing site could look like.
“There’s talk of having sort of public art on the site, something people say is necessary to a vibrant downtown,” Gibbons said.
Another ingredient to a successful downtown area is having the workforce of major companies back in the office.
Gibbons says that VyStar is in the process of finishing their campus which may mean some employees return to the office.
Jennifer Morrissey, who runs the Mustard and Onion hot dog stand at the corner of Laura and Forsyth Streets says she’s noticed a lot more people in the downtown area.
“I would say in the last month, it could be close to 80 percent more people than it was in November, December,” Morrissey said.
Projects like the new FIS headquarters in the Brooklyn area and plans to build a boutique hotel at the Laura Street Trio are in the works.
Morrissey is hoping the construction of the hotel and shopping center will benefit her business.
“It’ll help my business because I’ll be right across the street. And with the city doing the concerts down the street [at the Landing site], they’re keeping people downtown,” Morrissey said.
Anthony says art and eye-catching architecture are part of the recipe for downtown success.
“I want to see everyone working together to make Jacksonville a better place with more happiness,” Anthony said.
Gibbons says by June 23, those firms will have to submit designs to the DIA for it to be reviewed.