2020 has finally come to an end.
It was a year of unprecedented challenges in which we lost several local businesses and, much more significantly, hundreds of residents as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – which we’ll talk about more later. It was also a year of slow but steady progress on a number of issues in Jacksonville, including riverfront development and racial equality.
As we look forward to a more positive year in 2021, let’s take a quick look at some of what made 2020 noteworthy locally – the good, the bad, and the in-between. Here are the five biggest stories from Jacksonville in 2020, in no particular order.
For several years, the city has been trying to activate the riverfront with activities and new development along the Northbank and Southbank Riverwalks. And despite an increased focus on riverfront activation in recent years, that goal has still for the most part eluded the city.
2020 didn’t necessarily change that, but it offered hope for progress in the near future.
Construction began on a new 184-unit apartment complex west of the Acosta Bridge along the Southbank. On the opposite side of the bridge, a mixed-use development is proposed to take over the existing River City Brewing Company property – and a planned overhaul of the adjacent Friendship Fountain will add water and light shows as a riverfront attraction.
Additionally, MOSH recently announced that instead of overhauling its existing campus, which is technically located on the Southbank but faces away from the river, it will seek funding to construct a new, much larger facility along the Northbank on a portion of the long-dormant Shipyards property. It’ll be joined at the property by the Jacksonville Naval Museum, whose main exhibit – the USS Orleck – will be docked nearby.
In 2021, look for the riverfront to again be a major story as the unfinished husk of Berkman Plaza’s second phase comes down – and its property becomes open for development – and as the city continues to seek a replacement for The Jacksonville Landing.