Daughter of Buster Ford (Left) stands with another long-time Eastside family member Travis Williams of LIFT Jax. She was elated that Checkerboard Park, named after her father Mr. Ford, was seeing much needed care.
The newly formed Eastside Legacy Business Council (ELBC) (think Merchant’s Association) kicked off their first collaborative placemaking project this weekend on “The Avenue” (A. Philip Randolph Boulevard fondly known as Florida Ave).
The placemaking project is a beautification of the Eastside business district starting with the installation of six public art works by professional muralists including local artists Chris Clark, Tatiana Kitchen, Jarett Walker organized by the Jax Wall Project. The hyper-local collective of artists each have a studio practice house together at Jax Art Studios on Monroe Street in the neighborhood of LaVilla. The painting cru was joined by Florida’s very own Zulu Painter from St.Petersburg, whose involvement was approved by the community for phase one. Each expert artist worked diligently to design a mural with input from street residents, business owners and of course worked closely with the business owners to land on what you see today: six masterpieces along The Ave that truly reflect the people of one of Jacksonville’s historic neighborhoods - Out East.
Kurt, Family Member/Owner of 853 APR Shares his Story
This is only the start for the new merchants association. The next phase will include new facade painting of buildings along APR, new signage and lighting, streetscaping, planters and patio seating - a decision led by the business owners with support of Out East residents.
NFL FILMS was on site from Los Angeles to document the The Avenue. The day started with a history walk and talk by Dana and Avery and food homemade by local chef Ms. Cookie of the destination-restaurant The Avenue Grill. With the help of a leading placemaking expert in the city and Master Muralist and Jam Manager, Elena Ohlander of Jax Wall Project, volunteers from CSX, Florida Blue and JSO, everyone came together to support the work on the ave alongside the Jags; led by Kennedy Mann and TNeisha Tate.
ELBC President Avery McKnight and Vice-President Dana Miller Share History
Together: Ms. Honey Holzendorf led the transformation of Buster Ford Checkerboard Park. Ms. Honey has been programming the park for years to bring the public space alive and attention to a neglected public space. The park saw a much-needed face lift, while volunteers took to the streets to detail clean and the artists simultaneously worked on vibrant, new murals to add to the already existing collection of public art along The Ave.
Buster Ford Checkerboard Park Facelift
What public art already exists Out East?
It’s not the first time Elena led a mural jam along The Ave (see reference links below). She brings over a decade of mural experience to the table along with community partners such as Kobra Paint, Sherwin Williams, and Sunbelt who were eager to support art, access, and community engagement. In 2018 she worked alongside Nico to coordinate a mural jam along The Avenue, which inspired Chris Clark, Tatiana Kitchen and Elena to get into mural making. Additionally, Black Mural Maps and Twin from Team Money Productionz was on site to document the works curated by Jax Wall Project.
Dr. Rodney Hurst Sr. Explains Ax Handle Saturday in Front of a Mural by Nico from the 2018 Mural Jam
The project was born many decades ago with the rich history of the neighborhood and came out of the recent years work by LIFT Jax led by David Garfunkel and Travis Williams and the Historic East Side Community Development Corporation (CDC) led by Suzanne Pickett. The catalyst for ELBC came in 2022 when PlacemakingUS, a national network of placemakers, walked along the Avenue with 30+ community members to aggregate project ideas to improve the appearance and ambiance of the street in collaboration with businesses and longtime residents. This national partnership fosters an exchange of ideas and tactics for placekeeping and placemaking to support locally-led initiatives.
This past weekend the work was led by the new Eastside Legacy Business Council to create a more vibrant street and active place to conduct business and serve the greater Jacksonville community! The newly formed organization will model its efforts after the model of Main Street America and national merchants associations.
The Eastside Legacy Business Council’s purpose is to promote awareness of the Out East business community. By beautifying the commercial corridor, attracting new businesses, marketing the district, and increasing sales the group aims to bring in visitors to experience the authentic restaurants and bars, shops and salons all in an effort to ultimately enhance the overall growth and prosperity of the APR Corridor in Jax’s historic Eastside.
Interested in staying connected to the new ELBC? Email President McKnight to firstname.lastname@example.org
Volunteers work with Local Muralist Chris Clark to Transform the Corner Store
Volunteers Transform Jax Food Mart
Volunteers Hear from Zulu Painter on his Jags-Themed Mural