Downtown Vision, Inc., has released its annual State of Downtown Report highlighting the growth of downtown Jacksonville in the past year.
The past year, of course, was heavily affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with visitor and hotel occupancy numbers both cratering around April 2020. However, there are strong signs of recovery shown in the data as well, and the area’s residential growth continued despite the obstacles. In total, the report notes $204.4 million of projects completed since last year, as well as $1.8 billion of development under construction and another $2.6 billion proposed.
Despite the ongoing pandemic, downtown residential occupancy continued to grow in the past year.
Downtown Jax now has 6,830 residents, up 9% from last year’s report. While that rate is slower than last year’s increase of 18%, it still inches us ever closer to that magic number of 10,000 residents.
The number of available units is up 13% to 4,314, with a 97.5% occupancy rate. Newly-completed residential projects include Vista Brooklyn and Lofts at Brooklyn.
552 units are listed as under construction through a trio of projects: the Ashley Square senior housing project, The Doro apartment complex in the sports district, and The Southerly along the Southbank. 1,800 units are “in review” and an additional 981 are proposed.
COVID-19 Effects on Hotels, Visitors
As mentioned, the number of visitors to downtown Jax was affected significantly by COVID-19 – but things are beginning to bounce back to pre-pandemic status. The number of average daily visitors is up by 5,000 in 2021 so far, compared to the same time period in 2020.
Hotel occupancy plunged at the beginning of the pandemic, down as low as 20% at one point, but has since recovered to 72% in recent months – consistent with pre-pandemic numbers.
Average nightly rates, however, are still down by over $25 from pre-COVID times.
Six hotel projects are in the pipeline, including Residence Inn in Brooklyn, the adaptive reuse of the Ambassador Hotel building into TRYP by Wyndham, and Shad Khan’s proposed Four Seasons hotel.
Satisfaction, Complaints Remain Steady
The annual survey of downtown residents and workers yielded similar results to last year’s. 86% of residents surveyed like or love living downtown, while 76.5% of workers like or love working there.
Residents said the best things about living downtown are the atmosphere and proximity to work. Workers like the restaurant options and entertainment. Both groups appreciate the area’s walkability.
As far as the negatives go, residents and workers agree on the number one issue: safety, or lack thereof. Both also complained about the transient population downtown. Residents also noted the lack of a grocery store within walking distance.
To view the full report, visit https://issuu.com/downtownvision/docs/2020_state_of_downtown_issuu.