Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Better Landing Is Vital for City; Workshop Draws about 200 to Discuss Improving Downtown

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Better Landing Is Vital for City; Workshop Draws about 200 to Discuss Improving Downtown

Article excerpt

Byline: Roger Bull

The name of Monday's night's workshop on The Jacksonville Landing was "Making waves, realizing a world-class waterfront."

And that theme came up often, starting with Mayor Alvin Brown talking about his desire to make Jacksonville a world-class city.

"Can you imagine a Macy's, Lord & Taylor and Saks downtown," he said. "Can you see a 24-hour downtown Jacksonville?"

"The Landing is the key," he said, "But we all know that the Landing has not met its full potential. The question is how best to design the new Landing."

Dozens of people had comments and suggestions at the workshop, held at the city's Main Library, attended by about 200 people. There were calls for everything from a ferris wheel to more shade on the Riverwalk.

Alan Wilson of Haskell presented the preliminary plans he's drawn for Toney Sleiman, who bought the Landing 10 years ago with brothers Eli and Joe Sleiman. Those plans include tearing down the entire outer, northern ring of the building and cutting an entranceway to provide a view of the river from Laura Street.

Wilson talked about connecting it downtown and leaving room for two future mixed-use buildings combining both retail and residences.

But the purpose of the workshop was to get feedback from the public.

Tom Perdue, an architect and planner, drew cheers when he talked about what he'd seen in other cities.

"If we want this downtown to be successful, we have to bring back retail," he said. "And you do that with housing for younger people. Having high-income on the water is not the answer.

And City Councilman Bill Bishop drew applause with his suggestion: Remove the ramps from the end of the Main Street Bridge and let it feed down onto the street.

"The Landing looks great when you're coming over the bridge," he said. "But you can't get there."

Much of the discussion was about energy and entertainment. …

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