A few hundred feet south, Fort Lauderdale-based Mainstreet Capital Partners is moving forward with a proposal to convert a dead end street and Sister Cities Plaza at Hogan Street and Independent Drive into a high-rise boutique hotel. Although no brands or designs have been released, a recent City of Jacksonville bill will allow for Mainstreet to acquire the 0.27-acre site and require construction to begin within 12 months after the deed is conveyed.

A rendering of the proposed District project courtesy of Elkus Manfredi Architects

In the Southbank, AC Hotel by Marriott has signed on to be a part of The District project, anticipating breaking ground later this year. Owned and managed by Impact Properties of Tampa, the six story, 200 room hotel will overlook the St. Johns River. Founded in 1998 and designed to target Millennials consumers, AC Hotels is the first select-service brand Marriott has launched in the U.S. in 15 years.

Berkman Plaza II

Moreover, the possibility exists for additional hotel projects to materialize as a part of the long anticipated Shipyards project, the re-use of Berkman Plaza II and the redevelopment of the former county courthouse complex on East Bay Street into a convention center facility.

Great cities not only need a mix of office space, residential properties and retail, but attractions and places to stay for business and leisure travelers. Furthermore, these projects are generally mixed-use, featuring restaurants, bars and retail, attracting guests with disposable income and foot traffic essential for long struggling venues like the Jacksonville Landing.

In addition to replacing surface parking lots and breathing life back into abandoned and mostly empty buildings, according to a recent study by Oxford Economics, a typical hotel with 100 occupied rooms per night supports 230 local jobs every year. For every $100 hotel guests spend on lodging, they spend another $221 in their destination. If these statistics are true, great things are on the verge of happening in Downtown Jacksonville.

Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. 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