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Retrofitting the Core: Transformative Trails, Parks & Open Space

Learn how to stay up to date and can get involved with retrofitting Jacksonville’s urban core. Join The Jaxson virtually on Thursday, December 10th at 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. to explore the latest with the Emerald Trail, Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing Park and related initiatives that integrate local history, culture, community and economic development with open space, bicycle and pedestrian use that are on the verge of breaking ground in a post-Covid Jacksonville.


  • Ennis Davis


  • Kay Ehas, CEO, Groundwork Jacksonville
  • Mari Kuraishi, President, Jessie Ball duPont Fund
  • Healy Dwyer, Founder, Bike Duval

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In the meantime, here are a few projects that will be underway soon that you may not be familiar with. When complete in a few years, it will be possible to walk, job or bike an urban core trail system in Jacksonville that will stretch from Norwood near Gateway Town Center to San Marco.

The Emerald Trail

Groundwork Jacksonville is one of 20 Groundwork Trusts across the country. Groundwork’s mission is to bring about the sustained regeneration, improvement and management of the physical environment by developing community-based partnerships which empower people, businesses and organizations to promote environmental, economic and social well-being.

A major initiative of Groundwork Jacksonville is the implementation of the Emerald Trail. Intended to connect urban core neighborhoods, the proposed trail system has long been envisioned by the community to become a nationally recognized asset in attracting people, economic development and enhancing livability in Jacksonville.

The Emerald Trail will eventually link 16 schools, two colleges, and 21 parks, among other destinations like restaurants, retail, and businesses, with an additional 13 schools and 17 parks located within three blocks of the trail.

As we move into the new year, several phases of this massive infrastructure project are preparing to break ground, stimulating a more inclusive and accessible outdoor, sustainable and clean pedestrian and cycling environment in a post Covid urban atmosphere. Here are a few projects that will ramp up in 2021.

McCoys Creek

Long anticipated, the restoration of McCoys Creek between Brooklyn and Lackawanna will get under way in early 2021.

According the SCAPE Landscape Architecture DPC, “the McCoys Creek Restoration Plan aims to reduce flooding, restore ecosystem health, expand recreational opportunities along the creek, and connect creek-side neighborhoods to the water. The project proposes to use natural channel design to transform McCoys Creek from an environmental concern into a community asset, building a functional ecosystem that can adapt and sustain itself over time. An enhanced and expanded floodplain will manage floodwater, reducing the intensity and frequency of flooding along the creek.”

As a part of the project, McCoys Creek Boulevard will be converted into a trail for bicyclists and pedestrians with linear nodes of park spaces paralleling the trail and creek. In addition, the trail will include social, cultural and educational signage related to the neighborhoods and sites adjacent to the creek. Construction on phase one is expected to start in early 2021. Completion of the entire creek restoration and trail project is anticipated for 2024 or 2025.

1. LaVilla Link

Formerly known as the Model Mile, this 1.3 mile trail will run through LaVilla, directly connecting Brooklyn and LaVilla with the S-Line Urban Greenway in the Rail Yard District. This project, which will include a lane repurposing of the Lee Street Viaduct near the Prime Osborn Convention Center will break ground in Spring 2021.

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