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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Mar. 21, 201904:00 AM EST

Curry's next four years: Mayor says he’s going to make Downtown a destination

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Curry wins re-election Tuesday with 57.62 percent of votes.
by: David Cawton Associate Editor

Following his successful re-election bid, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry told supporters Tuesday night they would see a different Jacksonville’s skyline when he completes his second term. 

“We are going to make Downtown a destination for residential, retail, sports, art and entertainment,” Curry told supporters. “You will not recognize Downtown in four years.” 

The skyline already is changing.

Curry celebrated the win at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront hotel along the Downtown Northbank – a site surrounded by construction and demolition work. 

The city is taking down the old Duval County Courthouse next to the hotel and cleaning up the site of the demolished City Hall Annex behind the hotel. 

On the riverfront, the city is working to rebuild part of the Northbank Riverwalk. 

The work is to prepare for redevelopment that is expected to be introduced later this year. 

Those projects, along with a proposal to transform the old Berkman II condominium property into a hotel and resort, and a plan that will see the Jacksonville Landing demolished, are in some stage of the city’s approval process. 

There also are the yet-to-be-determined plans for the Shipyards property, the parking lots west of TIAA Bank Field and Metropolitan Park, all part of Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan’s long-term development plans. 

Across the St. Johns River on the Southbank, The District, a mixed-use healthy lifestyle-inspired project, is expected to break ground this year. 

Workers continue to demolish the front of the old Duval County Courthouse along East Bay Street on Wednesday.

There also are plans for the redevelopment of the Museum of Science & History and continued residential infill development on the Southbank and, on the Northbank, in Brooklyn and LaVilla.

Curry wasn’t the only re-elected city leader to talk about big Northbank changes.

Before Curry hit the stage at the Hyatt, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams spoke to a crowd and TV audiences at his re-election event at the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center in LaVilla. 

Following the speech, he told First Coast News that he would move toward relocating the John E. Goode Pre-trial Detention Facility in Downtown. 

“As Downtown development grows, the jail can’t be part of that equation,” he told reporter Shelby Danielsen. 

Williams said any new facility also would need to consider growing mental health needs. 

“Do you want to build a $500 million jail, or do you want to build a $300 million jail and a $100 million mental health facility,” he said. 

At the Hyatt, Curry said his focus will remain on public safety, investments in children’s programs, infrastructure improvements and building up Downtown Jacksonville. 

Investment in Downtown, he said, was not a zero-sum game, saying that funding projects in the urban core would not come at the expense of other neighborhoods. 

After the speech, Curry met with media to discuss the election and his political future. 

“We’ve got big issues we’ve got to continue to solve that we’ve started to put a dent in,” Curry said.

“Focus on public safety, neighborhood infrastructure, and a fundamental transformation of Downtown Jacksonville.” 

Curry said he would work to embrace those who oppose him, echoing a point in his speech about “one city, one Jacksonville.”

The mayor secured 57.62 percent of votes during the March 19 unitary election. 

His three challengers didn’t score enough votes to force a runoff.

Anna Lopez Brosche, also a Republican and a member of City Council, came in second with 24.13 percent of the vote followed by independent candidate Omega Allen, with 10.53 percent, and Republican Jimmy Hill, who gained 7.54 percent.  

Brosche hosted her election party at Uptown Kitchen in Springfield. She issued a statement saying she was disappointed in the election results, but had no regrets for running. 

“While the voters have spoken and I honor their decision, it is my sincere hope that all of our citizens take an active role in their government,” she said.

Her statement continued:

“For our city to meet its potential, we must work together to meet our challenges head-on and invest in our neighborhoods and our children,” she said. 

“It is vital for the future of our city that our citizens insist their voices be heard and fight for inclusiveness, transparency, and a government that serves all of the citizens of Jacksonville, not just the donor class. 

“I pray that our community holds this mayor accountable and fights diligently to protect our assets.”

Brosche gives up her At-Large Group 1 council seat after July 1.  

Curry’s next move after the coming term isn’t decided.

When asked about his political future, Curry said he would give that decision some time. 

“They always say never say never, but I can tell you I have no plans on being on the ballot.” 

For the next four years, Curry expects to continue focusing on economic development and other efforts.

“Jacksonville remains open for business and is going to be more aggressive than before,” he said.

“Soak it in,” Curry told supporters. “This isn’t the end, friends, we’re just getting started.” 

 

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