Once the centerpiece of “beauty shots” for the city, experts say demolition will create new opportunities.
While the demolition of The Jacksonville Landing will alter the Downtown skyline, the loss of it may not change the way the city is marketed to outsiders.
Instead, it can create opportunities to focus on other parts of the city.
Michelle Guglielmo Gilliam, president of Jacksonville-based Point Taken Communications, said it’s been at least a decade since the Landing was a key point of Downtown that was used to market the area.
“It was a great concept and it’s worked in other cities, but for whatever reason it didn’t work in Jacksonville,” she said.
It wasn’t unusual for the “beauty shots” of Downtown Jacksonville for marketing or broadcast purposes to feature the riverfront horseshoe-shaped retail center with its distinctive orange roof.
The Landing was built in 1987 as a festival marketplace with stores, restaurants and entertainment venues. It lost tenants and luster over the decades and on May 1, the city took over the structure and plans to demolish it.
“I think it’s time we look toward something that’s going to make our city more desirable for young people and businesses to move here and people who want to visit,” Gilliam said.
Katherine Hardwick is vice president of marketing for Downtown Vision Inc., which works to “promote Downtown as an exciting place to live, work, visit and invest.”
Hardwick said that while the Landing has been a factor in marketing Downtown in the past, now there’s a more “holistic” view when marketing the area.
To find any mention of the Landing on the Downtown Vision website takes some searching. It appears in several photos on the site and in the background of photos on its social media, but isn’t highlighted as a point of interest on either.
“When we look at everything, we have five sports teams and seven theaters, the library, the museum, we have a ton of events,” she said. “Everything factors into how we market Downtown.”
Visit Jacksonville doesn’t use the Landing on its website in photos or highlight it as a point of interest in the city.
CEO Michael Corrigan said the Landing wasn’t left out intentionally in photos, but in terms of the city as a whole, there are 875 square miles to market.
Visit Jacksonville has “thousands” of photos it uses on its site, and in the past, the Landing may have been one of them, he said.
To capture returning visitors, the site and its photos are updated often to show there are “multiple reasons” to visit, Corrigan said.
Companies throughout the city – Chase Properties, JAX Chamber Downtown Council and NAIOP Northeast Florida, to name a few – use photos of the Jacksonville skyline, which include the Landing, on their websites.
Chase Properties Principal Michael Balanky said he will update the website with one of his projects.
NAIOP Northeast Florida Chapter Administrator Carmel Buchanan said the company doesn’t plan to change its photo after the Landing is demolished.
“We may go through some photos that we already have that don’t feature the Landing so predominately and see how that looks, but there will be no cost involved,” she said in an email.
Gilliam said she suggests companies change photos on their websites and marketing materials after the Landing is gone, but ultimately should do what’s best for the brand.
With the demolition of the old City Hall and Duval County Courthouse, the skyline already has changed, although not as significantly as it will when the Landing is demolished.
With the loss of the Landing, however, comes an opportunity to replace it.
A green space that the whole community could use, along with a retail component, would be ideal, Hardwick said.
“I think this is a new opportunity for Jacksonville to move forward,” Gilliam said, “and hopefully create more of an image for Downtown.”