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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Aug. 28, 201412:00 PM EST

Jacksonville Civic Council says more work needed on Jacksonville Landing plans

by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

After reviewing the latest redevelopment concept for the Jacksonville Landing, the Jacksonville Civic Council wants a more thorough process before $11.8 million in public money is spent.

In a statement released this morning, Bob Rhodes, chair of the council’s Downtown Task Force, said rather than endorsing the proposal, the community should use leading local and national architects and developers though an open design process.

The former Downtown Development Authority chairman went on to say in view of the $11.8 million Mayor Alvin Brown has proposed for the project, the council supports a more thorough and inclusive process for re-imagining the riverfront retail venue.

“Community engagement with key stakeholders will also ensure that the Landing provides the type of unique downtown venue that our citizens deserve,” Rhodes said.

He praised the Downtown Investment Authority’s “thoughtful” Business Investment and Development plan recently introduced to City Council.

“As a key component to unlocking the DIA plan, the Jacksonville Landing deserves an equally thoughtful community review process before public dollars are invested,” Rhodes said.

He encouraged the DIA to have a review process to “engage the public and capture the expertise of professionals” to create a Downtown destination that reflects the true nature of the city.

“Public investment in the Landing can only occur when a community engagement process is conducted and an iconic design is completed and presented,” Rhodes said.

The design for the Landing distributed Saturday was prepared by a small group of architects — none local — who specialize in mixed-use developments, Landing partner Toney Sleiman said this morning.

He said he and Brown already have discussed the need for input from local designers and developers and the value of community engagement.

“That’s funny. We’re already working on having a public meeting as soon as we can put it all together,” he said.

Sleiman welcomes more involvement from the design community in creating the final product. He agreed with the council’s position that redeveloping the Landing is critical to Downtown’s future. He welcomed the Civic Council’s involvement.

“I want everybody’s input to make sure what we do is iconic. We need architects and engineers. I want everybody to help,” said Sleiman.

The Civic Council comprises more than 60 members from a range of industries and disciplines.

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