2017 was a busy year for Jacksonville.
The city continues to be a hot spot for new development, both residential and retail – a trend that promises to continue into 2018 and beyond.
As the year now comes to a close, it’s the perfect time to take a look back at some of the coolest new additions to Jacksonville in 2017.
We got an IKEA!
The arrival of the Swedish furniture mega-store is exciting for more than just the meatballs and tough-to-assemble furniture. It’s a status statement for the city; IKEA has just under 50 locations in the U.S., and typically only builds in areas close enough to a large metropolitan area that can sustain one of its stores.
Jax boasts the fourth largest metropolitan area in Florida, and with four stores already in Florida, the city was overdue for some love from the furniture giant.
Its arrival was greeted with much fanfare, proving so far to be a win for both the city and IKEA.
After years of development obstacles, upscale downtown eatery Cowford Chophouse opened its doors this fall.
The restaurant took over the long-vacant Bostwick Building at 101 E. Bay St., restoring it and turning the first building you see upon crossing the Main Street Bridge into a lively, elegant chophouse. Bold City Brewery also opened up a small taproom right next door to the restaurant – a great place to hang out for those waiting to be seated.
Early reviews of the restaurant have been positive, and with how much time and money went into the restoration of its historical building, everyone is hoping to see it succeed.
After much anticipation, gas station and convenience store Wawa will open the doors to its first two Jax locations on December 13.
The new-to-market chain is known for great service, sandwiches, and dedication to the community. It plans to add up to 40 locations in the Jacksonville area over the next few years. About 15 of those have already been announced.
Expect large crowds at their grand opening ceremonies next Wednesday – and again when its location at the St. Johns Town Center opens around the turn of the new year.
River & Post
River & Post recently opened in Riverside, transforming the top and bottom of the 1000 Riverside building into a new upscale steak and seafood restaurant with a rooftop bar.
The rooftop looks out over the St. Johns River, with great views of downtown and several bridges. As with Cowford Chophouse, the early reviews for River & Post are positive. It’s an excellent addition to the busy Riverside neighborhood, within walking distance of Five Points, Brooklyn Station, and the Riverside Arts Market.
It’s a great example of turning underutilized space into something awesome.
Springfield breweries (Main & Six + Hyperion)
It took a little bit of a fight, but as of this year Springfield now has not one, but two new breweries.
Main and Six Brewing Company and Hyperion Brewing Company both opened up along Main Street, as part of an ongoing revival of development interest in the Springfield neighborhood. The revival is largely being fueled by local businesses such as these two new breweries.
So far, both are looking like great additions to the neighborhood – and great examples of why it’s important to keep fighting for cool new local businesses.
The new Town Center developments (The Strand, The Crossing, and Town Center Promenade)
2017 has brought about lots of changes for the St. Johns Town Center.
This year, new developments have led to the addition of a large collection of new stores and restaurants, some of which are new to Jacksonville altogether. Exciting new-to-market options like Cheddar’s, Chuys, and Firebirds will appeal to holiday shoppers this season, and much of what’s to come hasn’t even opened yet. The projects will also bring in two new apartment communities, adding to those who live within walking distance of the (semi-)walkable outdoor mall.
The next step, hopefully, will be to find a way to alleviate the massive traffic pile-ups that all of these new additions will bring about. Or maybe building a parking garage.
This year brought about the realization of major investments in the city by online retail giant Amazon.
The company opened two new fulfillment centers and a sortation center this year, with plans for another sorting center in the works. In total, they planned to bring 5,000 jobs to Jacksonville.
Amazon’s arrival undoubtedly provides a major boost to the local economy. But there’s some concern over the quality of the jobs added – there were reports that working conditions at the centers were substandard. However, other workers have since denied these allegations, and the initial report was subject to criticism on social media.
That’s our list. Let us know what we left off, and what you’re most excited for in 2018!