In the sport of baseball, small ball is an informal term for an offensive strategy in which the batting team emphasizes placing runners on base and then advancing them into scoring position for a run in a deliberate, methodical way.

Applying this concept to urban revitalization, getting things right doesn’t necessarily mean having to only select between hitting home runs on risky, heavily subsidized mega projects or striking out at bat. Clustering, complementing businesses with a compact, pedestrian scale setting is a successfully proven and affordable example of small ball.

We at The Jaxson have long advocated the “Three C’s” of urban revitalization: the clustering of complementing uses within a compact setting. This is the simple idea that it doesn’t take big, expensive silver bullet projects or the span of generations to revitalize urban streets, but rather just a bit of coordination to concentrate amenities within easy walking distance of one another.

In 2019, we ran an earlier version of this article after visiting Pensacola while attending a Florida Preservation Conference facilitated by the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. Back in town for a Florida Trust board retreat, Palafox Street continues to impress since it was converted from a one-way street into a two-way street less than a decade ago.

Here is a look at what clustering complementing uses within a compact setting has created in the downtown of a Florida city that is the fraction of Jacksonville’s size and a fraction of Jacksonville’s financial resources.