3. Competition for East San Marco

In 2006, East San Marco was announced to great fanfare in that it would deliver a full-line Publix grocery store to the popular neighborhood. It’s now 2018 and after countless setbacks, residents are still waiting. In the meantime, a number of additional developments have been proposed. These include a proposed mixed use project at the Baptist site featuring 345 apartments and 30,000 square feet of potential retail space and recently submitted plans to the St. Johns River Water Management District for an infill project at the old Jackson Square site. Called San Marco Promenade, that project will include 286 apartments with up to 10,000 square feet of retail at the new I-95/Philips Highway interchange. Now a new significant threat has recently surfaced. Jacksonville-based Demetree Brothers is marketing the comprehensive redevelopment of Southgate Plaza in St. Nicholas to include a grocer and additional anchors. Renderings have gone as far as to resemble the trademark “wings” Publix stores were known for during the 1950s and 60s. It appears we have a competition brewing to bring full-line grocery to serve the Southside’s historic urban neighborhoods.

4. Jacksonville Doesn't Land Amazon HQ2

In 2017, Amazon sparked a continent-wide frenzy by announcing its intentions to be wooed to established a second headquarters in North America. Amazon expects to invest over $5 billion in construction and grow this second headquarters to include as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs. Like nearly every major metropolitan area in the country, Jacksonville appears to be willing to give up its goodies to land Amazon’s coveted second headquarters. In fact, the city went as far as putting together a pretty impressive video highlighting why it believes it is the best place for Amazon to do business. A winner will be selected in 2018. However, for all the positives the Jacksonville brings to the table, don’t get your hopes up at being the last city standing. Incentives will win this game and with some cities and states offering as much as $7 billion to Jeff Bezos at the taxpayer’s expense, this may be a game out side of Jacksonville’s pay grade.

This article by Ennis Davis, AICP, was originally published by the Florida Times-Union on October 31, 2017. Davis is a certified senior planner and graduate of Florida A&M University. He is the author of the award winning books “Reclaiming Jacksonville,” “Cohen Brothers: The Big Store” and “Images of Modern America: Jacksonville.” Davis has served with various organizations committed to improving urban communities, including the American Planning Association and the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. A 2013 Next City Vanguard, Davis is the co-founder of Metro Jacksonville.com and ModernCities.com — two websites dedicated to promoting fiscally sustainable communities — and Transform Jax, a tactical urbanist group. Contact Ennis at edavis@moderncities.com