by Mike Sharkey
For the first time in more than a year, the Downtown Development Authority Board is at full capacity.
Last week, Shands Jacksonville executive Penny Thompson was appointed to the board. Dave Auchter, director of corporate development for The Auchter Company, was appointed Monday by Mayor John Delaney, filling the seven-member Board.
“Dave is a true community servant,” said Delaney’s chief of staff, Audrey Moran. “He loves Jacksonville and he has a great vision for downtown. He will bring an awful lot of energy to the DDA.”
Auchter was born and raised in Jacksonville. After graduating from St. Johns Country Day School, he went to Lynchburg College in Lynchburg, Va.
Auchter worked for the Jacksonville Jaguars during the team’s first three seasons as the manager of media relations. After a little over a year with the World Golf Village, serving as their manager of communications, Auchter joined the family business.
Today, Auchter is the CEO of Auchter Marine Construction and vice president of The Auchter Company. Becoming a member of the DDA seems like a natural fit, given Auchter’s family name and their history downtown.
“I think the Auchter name will always be identified through the Jacksonville skyline,” said Auchter, listing Independent Square, Riverplace Tower, the Landing and the Humana Building as just part of the list the Auchter family helped build over the years. “Those are some of Jacksonville’s most significant structures.”
Auchter said serving on the DDA board will provide him the opportunity to have a first-hand say in the further development of downtown. And, it’s another step for him in a very civic-minded life.
“For me personally, I have always felt it was within our [Auchter family] capability to create a sense of place within our urban community,” said Auchter. “I get very excited about the new ways to revitalize downtown.”
In addition to assuring that new and existing businesses continue to get much-needed economic incentives, Auchter thinks there are at least three other areas that deserve special attention as downtown evolves.
“The issues are what everyone is discussing: parking, historical structures, green space,” explained Auchter. “We need to continue to provide incentives for development. We need to continue to review the parking issues, the zoning codes and the setback laws.”
Being a vice president and CEO of a company, as well as a husband and father of two, demands a great deal of Auchter’s time and attention. However, going above and beyond personally has always been Auchter’s style. He is active with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and has participated in many other volunteer capacities, including working with the Chamber of Commerce, the American Cancer Society and JCCI, just to name a few.
“I think my record of volunteering indicates that anything that’s good for Jacksonville is something worth my extra effort,” said Auchter. “That’s really the way I feel.
“My initial foray into the issues of downtown and developing a healthy density started with JCCI Forward. We had a core group that met to talk about critical issues. We still meet. We always felt the natural progression of our study was to put ourselves into positions where we could affect change. The DDA is on a short list of organizations we were interested in.”
Moran said Auchter was on a list the Mayor’s Office had been compiling for several months.
“Dave had not expressed interest specifically in the DDA,” said Moran. “But, he had always said if there was an opportunity to serve, he’d love to.”
Both Auchter and Thompson must be approved by a couple of City Council committees and the full Council before they can vote on an issue before the DDA. The process takes about six weeks, meaning Auchter and Thompson should be voting members of the DDA by the January meeting.
They can sit in on the Nov. 28 meeting, but they cannot vote on any issues or projects.