Downtown Jacksonville seeing more foot traffic in pandemic recovery

The 2020-21 State of Downtown report finds more residents as multifamily units increase.

  • By Monty Zickuhr
  • | 5:00 a.m. September 28, 2021
  • | 5 Free Articles Remaining!
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Visitor foot traffic in Downtown Jacksonville is rebounding from the COVID-19 pandemic, up 24% for the first two quarters of 2021 over the same period a year ago, according to the 2020-21 State of Downtown Report released Sept. 27.

The Downtown Investment Authority and Downtown Vision Inc. produced the report.

The report said foot traffic dropped in March 2020 when the pandemic struck and total visits that year were 44% lower than in 2019.

The report shows there is a distance before Downtown reaches pre-pandemic levels. Visits by week at the end of June were 345,000, down from 454,000 in January 2020.

In 2018, there were 23 million Downtown visitors, more than the 21.3 million in 2019 and 11.9 million in 2020.

Office space

The report said there are 56,000 Downtown employees and 2,400 businesses.

It says that 30.2% of the Jacksonville office inventory is Downtown, totaling 6.98 million square feet and not including government-owned property. 

Another 539,000 square feet is under construction, comprising the 386,000-square-foot Fidelity National Information Services Inc. headquarters and the 153,000-square-foot JEA headquarters.

According to the CBRE real estate company,  the fourth quarter 2020 office vacancy rate Downtown was 14.4% with an average lease rate of $21.94. 

By comparison, for the 16 million square feet of office space in the suburbs, the vacancy rate was 16.5% and the average lease rate was $21.04.

The Downtown Jacksonville average lease rate is lower than in other Florida cities. Miami is $48.72; Tampa, $33.45; and Orlando, $29.23.

Downtown living

The report says Downtown has 6,830 residents, up 9% from a year ago. The number of multifamily units is 4,314, up 13% since last year with 596 units added since January 2020.

Average occupancy, excluding properties opened in 2021, is 97.5% with an average monthly rent of $1,579.

The report says 552 units are under construction, 1,800 are under review and 981 are proposed and 596 have been added since January 2020.

Residential communities opening in 2021 include Vista Brooklyn, Elena Flats, the Shipping Container Apartments and the Lofts at Brooklyn.

Retail and tourism

The report said that more than 20 retailers have opened Downtown since the beginning of 2020, most in the food and beverage category.

Among them are Anejo Cocina Mexicana, Bread & Burger, Estrella Cocina, Honey’z Plates, Ruby Beach Brewing Co., Chipotle, Jumpin’ Jax House of Food and Underbelly.

The report said there were 342,300 hotel room nights in 2020, down from 611,010 in 2019. It said The Residence Inn by Marriott is near completion in Brooklyn, the first Downtown hotel to open since 2012.

The occupancy rate was 72% in June, with an average daily rate of $108.98.




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