by Max Marbut
First Wednesday Art Walk was both an extension of the Jacksonville Jazz Festival and an opportunity for the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce to introduce several hundred business people from around North Florida to what Downtown offers.
The afternoon began with a panel discussion by four Downtown business owners and operators at the Hyatt.
Burrito Gallery partner Antonio Allegretti, Perdue Office Interiors CEO Vince McCormack, developer Bill Cesery and CoWork Jax co-founder Elton Rivas discussed the attributes of the urban core and how they would increase the population of businesses and residents.
“Downtown is hot right now, and we’re taking advantage of the momentum,” said Allegretti before the discussion began.
“I grew up here and remember going Christmas shopping Downtown. I miss that. We all want to make Downtown better and I think with the new (City) administration, public-private partnerships will be energized,” said Cesery.
McCormack moved his business Downtown in 2009 from the Baymeadows area and said it was an opportunity to increase visibility and open a new interactive showroom.
“It’s one of the best decisions we ever made,” he said.
Rivas said Downtown was chosen for a co-working site for three reasons, based on a two-week experiment at AT&T Tower 301 that provided flexible office space for graphic designers, software developers and other solo practitioner entrepreneurs.
“Our target market wanted to be in a central location and in a walkable environment that has energy,” he said.
Chamber spokeswoman Lisa Daniel said the chamber wanted to be an official Art Walk stop to bring members of the business community who don’t regularly come Downtown to the urban core.
“Art Walk really shows off a vibrant Downtown. It’s what we want it to be every day,” she said.
Daniel said the idea was to share information, host a business trade show, provide the guests hospitality “and then turn them loose Downtown.”
The next First Wednesday Art Walk is 5-9 p.m. July 6, rain or shine.