This past week, Downtown Vision, Inc. released its annual “State of Downtown Jacksonville” report for the 2018-19 year.
The report highlights the organization’s most recent statistics regarding downtown Jax as well as noteworthy trends and financial investments in the area.
$220 million worth of construction projects were completed during the organization’s calendar year, with $1 billion in projects still under construction, according to the organization’s statistics. This includes The Barnett and Laura Street Trio project and the planned conversion of Ambassador Hotel into a LaQuinta Inn.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the annual report is the organization’s statistics on how many people are living downtown – as well as how many living units are available in the area. The ultimate goal, as identified by Downtown Vision, is to have more than 10,000 residents living in downtown Jax – this is viewed as the magic number for retail sustainability.
This year, the number of people living downtown topped 5,000 for the first time in decades, rising up to 5,220.
To give some added perspective, compare that number to 3,907 downtown residents in 2010, and just 1,816 in 2000.
Likewise, the number of available housing units downtown continues to rise. The area now boasts 3,199 completed multifamily units, with last year’s growth led by multiple apartment complexes built by Vestcor. 978 more are under construction, and 3,038 are proposed.
By 2025, downtown Jax could have as many as 7,500 multifamily residential units. That would be more than enough units to get the area to that magic number of 10,000 total residents.
The report also highlights things that have been done to make the idea of living downtown more appealing. It cites, for example, the creation of a free public gym at Corkscrew Park as well as projects proposed to “activate the Riverwalk.”
According to Downtown Vision, just under 90% of downtown residents surveyed described themselves as happy to be living downtown.
Getting to that magic number, however, is still not a given. The number of proposed units includes large-scale projects like The Shipyards and The District that will take years to be completed – and have yet to even begin construction.
And the surveys of downtown residents also reveal the area’s biggest remaining issues: the number of loiters and homeless people, and the lack of a grocery store within walking distance.
“The most important thing we must do now in Downtown is to stay on track and not take our foot off the pedal,” says Michael Munz, partner at RummellMunz which is behind The District. “Respond and adjust to market trends when necessary – but keep our focus on the plan and execute.”
Assuming everything does stay on track, the future is still looking bright for downtown Jacksonville.