Future of Cities seeks rezoning for New Springfield property

The Miami-based company wants to regenerate the 8 acres it has assembled since 2020 into commercial, residential and other uses.

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.
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
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Miami-based Future of Cities is asking the city to rezone and change the land use on 8 acres in New Springfield to redevelop the site as the Phoenix Arts & Innovation District, or PHX JAX.

Ordinance 2023-393 asks to rezone the land to Planned Unit Development and bill 2023-392 asks for a land use amendment change to Community/General Commercial.

The parcels now have other classifications.

The ordinances are being introduced June 27 to City Council. The property is in District 7.

The owner wants to create a mixed-use project.

The Jacksonville-based Rogers Towers law firm is the applicant

The property is filled with old warehouses, empty lots and the colorful murals of its identity as the Phoenix Arts District.

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

Future of Cities site in New Springfield north Downtown Jacksonville.

“Cities thrive when we enrich historic neighborhoods,” said Tony Cho, founder and CEO of Future of Cities, in a statement emailed previously.

“Springfield and the Eastside have a rich cultural heritage that Future of Cities will celebrate and support as we co-create the Phoenix Arts + Innovation District with local residents, artists, non-profits, and business owners to be a catalyst for equity and growth,” he said.

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.

Property records show that between 2020 and 2023 Future of Cities companies, led by Cho, have paid about $8.3 million for most of 8.3 acres along Market, Hubbard, Main, Liberty and East 15th streets.

It has been buying the parcels from multiple property owners.

PHXJAX.com previews the plans.

Tony Cho, founder and CEO of Future of Cities.

“Founded by real estate artist and visionary, Tony Cho and a group of investors with a passion for regenerative development, Future of Cities will build up the PHX Arts & Innovation District and surrounding community to create affordable housing and business opportunities, provide infrastructure for sustainable food options, and build quality of life, wellness, culture, and collective transformation.”

Regeneration of the area has been envisioned for years.

It says the team at Future of Cities “seeks to co-create a community with artists, residents, cultural instigators and change makers in Jacksonville, Florida.”

The PHXJAX.com site says the area is “just steps away from the Springfield Historic District.”

In December, city-owned utility JEA issued service availability letters for 33,000 square feet of event space, a 15,000-square-foot office building, green space, a community garden, storage and parking.

In January, the utility issued letters for about 20,280 square feet of warehouse and storage space and 11 empty lots.

Future of Cities, through lawyer Emily Pierce of the Rogers Towers firm, applied to the Jacksonville Planning and Development Department to review The Phoenix Arts + Innovation District Planned Unit Development.

The district is described as 8.09 acres south of 15th Street east of Main Street, north of the rail line and west of Liberty Street.

Three parcels are south of the rail line.

Future of Cities wants to rezone the property from industrial light, industrial business park, residential medium density-B and planned unit development into one planned unit development.

The site is within areas designated for development assistance and attention.

The property is within the Urban Priority Development Area and designated a Level 1 Economic Distress Area based on income and unemployment.

One parcel is in the Springfield Overlay District. 

The property north of the rail line is in a designated Opportunity Zone, which is a federal program created to foster economic development and job creation in economically distressed communities. 

The proposed PUD is within the Warehouse District of the Urban Core Vision Plan.

The former Solomon’s Auction House at 2301 N. Main St. is owned by Future of Cities. According to city records, it was built in 1925.
Photo by Monty Zickuhr

The Phoenix Arts + Innovation District PUD is dated Feb. 10, 2023.

The team includes Gresham Smith as an architect and Agency Landscape + Planning as a landscape architect.

Future of Cities also has been working with JAA Architecture and HOTA Design Studio LLC and expects to engage additional design firms through the duration of the project.

According to the application, the zoning “is being sought for a unique infill redevelopment project that will feature a mix of commercial, entertainment, recreational, light industrial/warehouse, office and similar uses that will be developed in phases.”

Future of Cities will incorporate the Emerald Trail on the southern edge for biking and will include multiple pedestrian corridors with a goal of about 40% of the property being open and green space. 

Future of Cities intends to seek approvals later for residential uses through the development.

The most recent property sale is that of HabiJax, which sold 11 parcels, including its 20,000-square-foot building at 2404 Hubbard St. that was developed in 1951.

Habitat for Humanity Jacksonville LLC sold 1.71 acres to Future of Cities on April 11 for $1.76 million. HabiJax will move its program and administrative offices to the Jessie Ball duPont Center at 40 E. Adams St. Downtown.

It will move its construction operations warehouse and offices by year-end to a location to be determined. 

The Phoenix Arts + Innovation District already has a local team at the 2320 N. Liberty St. building. 



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