Phoenix Arts & Innovation District announces $7 million LISC loan and start of first phase

The Future of Cities said it will break ground in December in the North Springfield neighborhood.

The Phoenix Arts & Innovation District comprises 10 properties across 8.3 acres in the North Springfield neighborhood. It will begin with two properties at 2320 and 2336 N. Liberty St.
The Phoenix Arts & Innovation District comprises 10 properties across 8.3 acres in the North Springfield neighborhood. It will begin with two properties at 2320 and 2336 N. Liberty St.
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The Future of Cities announced Dec. 11 its Phoenix Arts & Innovation District in Jacksonville is starting the first phase of construction on two properties at 2320 and 2336 N. Liberty St.

It said the work is funded through the Dec. 6 closure of a $7 million loan from Local Initiatives Support Corp.

Tony Cho, founder and CEO of Future of Cities.

“The Phoenix Arts & Innovation District is an opportunity to co-create in partnership with the neighborhood of North Springfield a new vision for its future,” said Tony Cho, CEO and founder of Miami-based Future of Cities and founding managing partner of PHX JAX, in a news release.

“We’ve learned through experience on other projects in Miami, that the input of artists, residents and the city at large is essential to success.”

PHX JAX plans comprise 10 properties across 8.3 acres in the North Springfield neighborhood. 

The district encompasses 120,000 square feet of “adaptively repurposed” warehouse spaces in a designated opportunity zone. 

The Emerald Station in the Phoenix Arts & Innovation District will feature creative offices, community gathering spaces and a warehouse event facility.

The release said the first phase will begin with The Emerald Station, featuring creative offices, community gathering spaces and a warehouse event facility, and The Liberty Building, which will house 17,850 square feet of affordable artist studios, galleries, small-format retail and restaurants. 

“For LISC Jacksonville, the PHX JAX project represents an opportunity for us to partner on what we believe is going to be a catalytic project for one of Jacksonville’s fastest growing and most diverse neighborhoods,” said Irvin PeDro Cohen, LISC Jacksonville executive director.

Preliminary site work began in spring 2023 and construction starts this month.

JAA Architecture and Hota Design Studio are the architectural and design firms and Prosser Inc. will serve as civil engineer for the Emerald Station and Liberty Building.

Avant Construction Group is the general contractor for the Emerald Station.

Phoenix Arts & Innovation District plans include an outdoor market space at 2335 Market St. that will open by Spring 2024.

Construction of the Emerald Station property will begin immediately, while work on The Liberty Building will begin in the first quarter of 2024.

Both buildings are scheduled to be available for tenants in the third quarter of 2024.

District 7 Jacksonville City Council member Jimmy Peluso said in the release the PHX JAX transition and adaptive reuse will create positive economic impact on the Eastside and North Springfield neighborhoods.

Developers intend to open an outdoor market space at 2335  Market St. by spring 2024 to serve as a hub of community activity. 

The Phoenix Arts & Innovation District encompasses 120,000 square feet of “adaptively repurposed” warehouse spaces.

Naked Kitchen is the first food and beverage concept to enter a lease  agreement in the project. 

Naked Kitchen, a restaurant with plant-based and protein options and the motto “Cooking with Conscience,” will lease within the Liberty Building.

The restaurant ownership group comprises spouses Brian Nelson, a chef, and Alexandra Bowles, managing partner, and their business partner, chef Matt Johnson.

Nelson said Nov. 16 they hope to open for breakfast and lunch in August and add dinner service in October.

Nelson doesn’t want to label the cuisine because Naked Kitchen will serve diverse foods from vegan eggs and plant-based proteins to house-cured pastrami sandwiches and kimchi grilled cheeses.

“We want to have that balance in our restaurant,” Nelson said.

From left, spouses Matt Johnson and Jessica Thai and their daughter, 11-month-old Bonnie Thai; and spouses Brian Nelson and Alexandra Bowles and their daughters Penny Nelson, 2, Clementine Nelson, 11 months, and Eleanor Nelson, 4. Johnson and Nelson are the chefs and Bowles is the managing partner of Naked Kitchen, a restaurant they will develop in the Liberty Building behind them in the Phoenix Arts & Innovation District.
Photo by Karen Brune Mathis

Naked Kitchen’s broker was Cantrell & Morgan sales associate Kayla Deguzman. 

Future of Cities works with Colliers Urban Division Senior Vice President Matthew Clark and associates Sam Middlekauff and Olivia Steinemann to manage the pre-leasing of the remaining retail, gallery and food and beverage spaces.

The release said PHX JAX will continue to host community events during redevelopment.

The events allow attendees to learn more about site plans, share feedback with the project team and contribute ideas. 

The release asks those wanting information about coworking, artist studios or event opportunities to email [email protected].

The first phase of the Phoenix Arts & Innovation District will include creative offices, community gathering spaces, small-format retail and restaurants.

Events include: 

• A holiday food distribution at 3 p.m. Dec. 13 at 2402 Market St. PHX JAX will sponsor neighborhood residents with a food distribution through Feeding Northeast Florida for food insecure households to pick up groceries.

• A holiday creative mixer from 6-8 p.m. Dec. 14. Artists are asked to bring a piece of art to participate in a white elephant art exchange game. 

Those interested in more information can visit

The Phoenix Arts & Innovation District logo.

The nonprofit arm of the project, Friends of Phoenix, is aligned with the broader mission of the Phoenix Arts & Innovation District. Friends of Phoenix operates through four pillars: arts and culture; sustainability; technology; and financial stability. 

Since 2020, Future of Cities has been buying the property to regenerate the neighborhood into affordable housing, innovation, markets, food trucks, events, green space and more.

Companies owned by Future of Cities in Miami have been investing in about two dozen parcels east of Main Street to Liberty Street, south of East 15th Street and generally north of the rail line.

The city enacted legislation in August 2023 to rezone the 8.09-acre site for commercial, multifamily residential, light industrial and indoor/outdoor recreation uses as The Phoenix Arts + Innovation District PUD.

The Phoenix Arts District buildings in the block at North Liberty Street and 14th Street are among the properties acquired by Miami-based Future of Cities. The group has acquired property from North Liberty to North Main streets.
Photo by Monty Zickuhr
Future of Cities site in New Springfield north Downtown Jacksonville.



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