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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Oct. 11, 201805:20 AM EST

The Cawton Report: JAX Chamber looking for ideas in Denver; Council member introduces resolution opposing Amendment No. 1

Annual Leadership Trip sees 140 chamber officials and others looking for ideas to improve Downtown.
by: David Cawton Associate Editor

JAX Chamber members are spending a few days in Denver this week to learn more about the city’s efforts to improve its downtown.

The chamber’s annual Leadership Trip involves 140 chamber members, staff, and officials who met with their counterparts in the Mile High City.

According to the agenda, the focus was on finding new ideas to help improve Downtown Jacksonville.

Topics centered on livability, transit-oriented development, arts, education and workforce housing.  

Denver is the latest destination for the chamber. It visited Toronto in 2017 and Pittsburgh in 2016.   

The group previously toured Denver in 1999.

According to incoming chamber Chair Debbie Buckland, Denver officials made downtown and surrounding neighborhoods more inviting and safer in the 19 years since the chamber’s last trip.

The schedule featured presentations by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and others.

According to the agenda, Jacksonville Transportation Authority CEO Nathaniel Ford was scheduled to lead a panel on transit-oriented development.

Trammell Crow Co. Managing Director Bill Moser, Denver’s Chief Projects Officer Diane Barrett and Denver Regional Transportation District General Manager David Genova were listed to participate on the panel.

Shantel Davis, CSX Corp. vice president of real estate and facilities, was scheduled to moderate a discussion on workforce housing that included Vestcor Companies President Steve Moore and Ryan Tobin, the director of real estate development for the Denver Housing Authority.

Mayor Lenny Curry did not attend because of concerns about Hurricane Michael.

Chief of Staff Brian Hughes was scheduled to take Curry’s place and join Denver Mayor Michael Hancock for the Mayor’s Dinner and a discussion on creating a livable downtown.

Attendees also were scheduled to hear presentations about creating educational options in a downtown, with Duval County Schools Superintendent Diana Greene joining Nate Easley, CEO of Blue School Partners of Denver and Guild Education CEO Rachel Carlson. The national organization promotes adult education.  

Other topics included public art and helping small businesses thrive in an urban core.

Jacksonville City Council members Lori Boyer and Greg Anderson attended.

The trip was Tuesday-Thursday.

Resolution introduced opposing Amendment No. 1

At Tuesday's City Council meeting,  Matt Schellenberg introduced legislation, 2018-694, opposing a constitutional amendment that would create another $25,000 homestead exemption for Florida's residential property owners.

On Nov. 6, voters will decide on Amendment No. 1. If approved, it would exempt the assessed valuation of homestead property between $100,000 and $125,000 for all taxes except those levied by school districts.

Schellenberg, who represents District 6 in the Mandarin area, estimates the amendment would create a $25.7 million drop in the general fund revenue.

Schellenberg asked for a one-cycle emergency, so the bill should be considered during the council Rules Committee on Tuesday afternoon.

Correction: A previous version of the story said the council voted on Schellenberg's legislation.

Friends of Hemming Park getting a new home

A 1,846-square-foot office space in the Ed Ball Building will be the new home for the Friends of Hemming Park, the organization responsible for maintaining and creating programming for the Downtown park.

The group, which operates as I3-JAX Inc., is relocating from space in the Jacksonville Main Library.

The 12-month lease is for the former Victoria’s Cafe space on the ground floor of the Ed Ball Building at 214 N. Hogan St.

The city will spend about $57,500 to prepare the space. No rent terms are outlined in legislation introduced to City Council on Oct. 9.

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