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What's new for downtown Jacksonville in 2020

The wind has been taken out of downtown Jacksonville's sails this decade, but there are projects to look forward come 2020.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The last decade has shown a decline of downtown Jacksonville as landmarks have been demolished and many moved away from the area, but there are projects to look forward to in 2020.

The Jacksonville Landing is a pile of rubble Tuesday and demolition is supposed to be finished by June. In the meantime, the Downtown Investment Authority is prepping for a possible design competition for an active riverfront plaza.

The massive former courthouse and city hall property is a simple grassy field on the riverfront. Some see a great property just wasting away, but the city says these sites have drawn national attention with about 100 inquiries from developers. Bids for the property are due Jan. 22.

The beautiful, old National Guard Armory building has been vacant for about a decade. But now, it has an interested developer that plans to use it as a cultural art facility with art studios, a performance stage and event space. There will even be 100 units of housing.

The former Independent Life facility is a bit of an eyesore. It was JEA’s former headquarters in the 1970s, but there are great plans for the future. A developer plans to turn it into apartments with a rooftop restaurant and bar, and a boutique grocery.

Despite all of the sales talk, the JEA Board has decided to go ahead with a new headquarters building, not far from the Duval County Courthouse. Its design has gone to the Downtown Development Review Board.

More restaurants are planned to come to the restaurant row along Riverside Avenue. Plans for a Panera, Chipotle and Bento Asian Cuisine are emerging, and there’s still room for a 15,000 square foot retailer.

“Lot J” looms as one of the most anticipated projects. The Hart Bridge ramp will be removed in early January to make way for aggressive development plans of an entertainment zone near TIAA Bank Field. Soil testing for the $450 million project should take place soon.