Article originally published at

Can you picture this? You and a friend are deciding where to meet for lunch near Downtown Jacksonville, and she says, “Hmm, how about somewhere in SoBa?”

SoBa, as in the Southbank. It’s one of the rebranding options on the table as the public Jacksonville Downtown Investment Authority works with a consultant “to attract more residents and visitors to live, work and play in these areas.” A survey about the new branding is part of an update to the DIA’s Business Investment and Development Plan.

The area commonly thought of as Downtown, including the Northbank and Cathedral District, could become NoCo (short for Northcore).

The DIA is inviting people who have lived in, worked in or visited Downtown to weigh in on these names, along with new visual branding and vision statements for four neighborhoods: Brooklyn, Lavilla, the Northcore and the Southbank. New visual branding for Downtown as a whole is also part of the survey.

Here are the five vision statements:


Downtown Jacksonville is a collection of neighborhoods knit together by a celebrated history, a spirit of rejuvenation and a proximity and access to the city’s St. Johns riverfront. The growing emphasis on exploration by bike and on foot has given downtown the feeling of a place built for people—and not just one kind of person, but all the people who call Jacksonville home—young and old, tech worker and city worker, startup and corporate o?ce.

While each neighborhood offers residents and visitors its own particular atmosphere and personality, the whole of downtown has become synergistic and seamless. The riverfront has come to life and brought the life of downtown back with it – an invitation for residents and visitors to wander through the historic richness, vibrancy and variety of downtown.


With a little history, some interesting new builds and a young, imaginative and entrepreneurial spirit, our Brooklyn gives its new and long-standing residents a place to live that’s walkable to downtown offices, Five Points galleries, the Riverside Arts Market, entertainment, with and an eclectic mix of ambition and art, creativity and cool, with a looser, hipper vibe.

When the McCoys Creek Greenway and Emerald Trail came online, the pathways were programmed to entice different residents and neighbors—curious strollers, runners, moms, dads, people interested in birds and nature—to venture out and experience how different their neighborhood looked from the trails and the riverfront, with its trees and cool shade. It is, they insist, a well-balanced lifestyle.


LaVilla is celebrating its past and creating a cutting-edge future, becoming a kind of cultural city laboratory for new ways to live, learn and be entertained in Jacksonville. It is a diversely dynamic neighborhood for locals that has become a draw for all of downtown and a must-stop for visitors to the city, a hive of creativity and culture, a mix of the celebration of creativity and of the spirit of enterprise, invention and ethnic diversity that was early LaVilla’s heritage. But that’s only a start of the story, which encompasses music and art schools, innovative affordable housing, shared workspaces and recording opportunities, and live entertainment venues both out of doors and in intimate clubs and restaurants in the neighborhood. Then, as now, mobility is a key part of LaVilla—it’s a gathering place and transportation hub, a mixing and meeting of people from around the city, the region and the country.


NorthCore, the main business and cultural hub in Jacksonville, now incorporates the Church district, and has become a bustling daytime destination for office workers and the service infrastructure around them, and a nighttime and weekend culinary and entertainment destination for locals and visitors alike. With its festive year-round events, well-preserved and adaptive re-use of buildings, wide sidewalks and restored two-way streets, NoCo is the magnet that brings business people, downtown neighbors, and tourists together at the waterfront. The Northbank Riverwalk connects people in NoCo to a re-imagined Landing, James Welden Johnson Park, and the buzzy Elbow, with its strollable necklace of bars, breweries, restaurants, nightlife, live music and performances anchored by the famed Florida Theater. It also fosters universities to grow, tech companies to expand, innovators to innovate and makers to make.


The twin features and forces of Southbank—the St. Johns and the medical campuses—have evolved to give the neighborhood a focus on and a reputation for exceptional health and well-being—from guided meditation to daily river walks and exercise classes—that give the neighborhood an active and healthy vibe that attracts seekers of outdoor living and wellness in Jacksonville. In addition, the rejuvenation of St. Johns River Park, the Southbank Riverwalk, new marinas, restaurants and cafés have created a destination for gathering, well-being, walking, biking, and boating.

Have your say by taking the survey now.

Article by Jessica Palombo at Jessica can be reached at or on Twitter at @JaxJessicaP.