The presence of the St. Johns River running through downtown Jacksonville is one of the city’s greatest assets.
In the 1980s, the city worked hard to put that natural asset to use, creating the Riverwalks along the north and south banks of the river.
Originally the Riverwalks were planned with far more amenities, including a riverfront aquarium, an amphitheater, and an open-air marketplace, but many aspects of the initial plans were either scaled down or removed.
Over the years, even some of the elements that did get built out have been removed: the maritime museum, some riverfront shops, and a few other amenities.
But with the ongoing efforts to revitalize downtown Jax becoming a high priority for the city, it would make sense to start exploring ways to improve the Riverwalk experience to generate more activity along our valuable riverbanks.
When the Riverwalks were first being planned, there was to be no shortage of entertainment options along the route. An aquarium, an amphitheater, and more were planned along the river, in addition to the existing Times-Union Center for Performing Arts and the planned Jacksonville Landing.
Unfortunately, the proposed entertainment options never developed – and now, with the Landing being torn down, there really just isn’t a whole lot to do for fun along the river these days.
In the past few years, several major attractions have been proposed for the riverfront, including an aquarium (again), a small-scale amusement park, and even a large gondola system. None of those plans, however, are anywhere close to being realized.
The Riverwalks need a major attraction that will encourage people to congregate around the river, bringing valuable foot traffic that could help sustain nearby retail and restaurants.