Downtown Vision Inc. issued its “State of Downtown 2011 Progress Report” last week and led the document with a statement:
“Last year was a great year for Downtown Jacksonville.”
DVI is a not-for-profit 501c6 organization whose mission is to build and maintain a healthy and vibrant Downtown community and to promote Downtown as an exciting place to live, work, play and visit.
It was created in 2000 and is funded by an additional ad valorem tax on commercial property inside a 90-square-block Downtown Improvement District and funding from the City.
The district comprises about 500 properties and is bounded by Prudential Drive to the south, Broad Street to the west, Church Street to the north and Market Street to the east.
As highlights of the year, the report cites the commitment to the neighborhood from Mayor Alvin Brown, completion of improvements to public parks and renewed interest in businesses moving operations from the suburbs to Downtown.
Corporate migration to the urban core was led by EverBank, which is moving 1,500 employees from office space in the suburbs to the former AT&T Tower 301 on West Bay Street, now “EverBank Center.”
According to DVI’s report, that will increase employment in the core by 8 percent.
The report states that interest in commercial leasing is expected to continue into 2013, driven by the scheduled May 29 opening date of the new Duval County Courthouse in LaVilla.
The report states that 12 development and improvement projects totaling $186 million were completed in 2011.
Also, several new projects were announced, including a new parking garage adjacent to the Landing, the facelift at the JAX Chamber building at the north end of the Main Street Bridge and the U.S. Green Council’s Sustainability Resource Center in the parking garage near the Main Library.
According to the report, Downtown’s retail vacancy declined in 2011. New businesses include six restaurants, four nightlife venues and several clothiers and gift shops.
The vacancy rate of Downtown retail space declined from 35 percent in 2010 to 29 percent in 2011, according to the report.
Twenty retailers opened in the neighborhood last year, for a net gain of three retailers, restaurants or bars.
In terms of safety, the report cites a crime rate that is 59 percent below the county’s rate and a 14 percent drop Downtown since 2009.
Downtown continues to be an entertainment and recreation destination for the community, according to the report. It lists 9,989,192 visits in 2011.
The Landing accounted for 42 percent of the visits last year, with 16 percent attributed to special events, 9 percent to sports events, 9 percent to the Main Library and 8 percent to non-sports events at the Sports Complex.
According to the report, the Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair brought 400,000 people Downtown in 2011, followed by the Florida-Georgia weekend and the Lighted Boat Parade, each with estimated attendance of 200,000.
The July 4 “Freedom, Fanfare and Fireworks” and the Jacksonville Jazz Festival each brought 150,000 visitors Downtown.
The report lists attendance of 101,300 at events produced in 2011 by DVI: 12 First Wednesday Art Walks; four Movies in the Park; Eat Up Downtown (a two-week discount dining promotion aided last year by $11,000 in marketing funded by the City); and several nightclub promotions.
Churches accounted for 6 percent of Downtown visits, followed by performing arts and the Riverside Arts Market, each at 4 percent, and museums at 2 percent.
The occupancy of Downtown’s 2,153 hotel rooms was 57 percent in 2011, an increase of 2 percentage points over 2010. Convention activity at the Osborn Center was reported to have increased by 5 percentage points compared to 2010, with the facility hosting 217 events in 2011.
To view or download the entire DVI “State of Downtown 2011 Progress Report,” visit downtownjacksonville.org.
Downtown 2011: by the numbers
• 1,100 businesses
• 51,048 employees
• 2,365 residences
• 3,266 residents
• 2,153 hotel rooms
• 93 restaurants
• 26 bars and nightclubs
• 120 retailers and services
• 43,452 parking spaces
• 10 million visits annually
Source: Downtown Vision Inc. 2011 Progress Report
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