Soon after acquiring the Jacksonville Landing for $5 million in 2003, developer Toney Sleiman announced plans to invest up to $250 million to keep the existing building, while adding more stores, offices, condominiums, a hotel and marina to the property. However, this redevelopment project died in 2006 when the city balked at a $51 million incentive package associated with the project that included selling the land underneath the Landing to Sleiman.

After years of failing to form partnerships with the city for various proposals calling for the renovation of the property, in 2013 a public workshop called “Making waves, realizing a world-class waterfront” was held focusing on the Landing’s future. It drew 200 people. Alan Wilson of Haskell presented preliminary plans to solicit public feedback for the festival marketplace’s redevelopment. At the time, public participants were led to believe that the intention was to create a world-class mixed-use waterfront that would be comparable to Pikes Place Market in Seattle and River Street in Savannah.

Jacksonville Landing redevelopment concept plan in December 2013 public workshop (Jacksonville Landing)

Members of the Jacksonville community participated in a planning workshop last month with the goal of identifying improvements that would enhance The Jacksonville Landing to make it the centerpiece of the city’s waterfront experience.

The workshop, “Making waves: realizing a world-class waterfront,” was held Dec. 9, at the Jacksonville Main Library. Mayor Alvin Brown kicked off the presentation with his thoughts on what an improved mixed-use Landing would mean for the city: “We want to make Downtown a signature destination for every opportunity. Can you see a 24-hour downtown Jacksonville?” Brown asked. “Critical to improving Downtown is The Landing. It has not met its full potential, and a new game plan for The Landing needs to focus on housing.” JAX Chamber president Daniel Davis was equally as enthusiastic, saying “I am bullish about the future of Northeast Florida and Downtown. Let’s get the bulldozers going and make it happen.”

Echoing those sentiments was Downtown Investment Authority’s Aundra Wallace: “The goal is not to reinvent the wheel nor do we want a lengthy planning process.” Wallace showed images of successful downtown destinations, such as Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, Pike Place Market in Seattle, Chicago’s Navy Pier, and Savannah’s River Street, among others.

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Seattle’s Pikes Place Market (Ennis Davis, AICP)

River Street in Savannah (Ennis Davis, AICP)

Baltimore’s Inner Harbor (Ennis Davis, AICP)