Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New DDA Leader Offers His Battle Plan

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New DDA Leader Offers His Battle Plan

Article excerpt

Byline: Karen Brune Mathis, Times-Union senior business writer

New Downtown Development Authority Managing Director Al Battle told his board yesterday that he intends to focus on four areas:

-- Increasing opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs to develop and expand downtown.

-- Focusing on historic preservation by encouraging the highest and best use of old buildings downtown.

-- Emphasizing more cultural and entertainment development downtown, such as encouraging restaurant, retail and entertainment ventures near cultural centers, museums, performing arts theaters and other venues downtown.

-- Focusing on the Brooklyn area, which is west of the redeveloping LaVilla district, for housing, office and commercial development.

"This is a labor of love of mine," said Battle, a Jacksonville native who was named leader of the DDA as former senior director Paul Krutko accepted a job as director of economic development in San Jose, Calif. Yesterday was Battle's first day as managing director.

Krutko, whose last day was Tuesday, was lauded and applauded by DDA members and other downtown advocates yesterday and presented the Klechak Award for his efforts to improve downtown. That award is named in honor of former DDA chairman Lew Klechak.

To enhance the Battle strategy, DDA chairman Jim Citrano assigned board members as liaisons. New DDA members Penny Thompson, vice president with Shands Jacksonville, and Dave Auchter, vice president at The Auchter Co. contracting firm, were appointed to follow through with historic preservation and Brooklyn redevelopment, respectively.

Lawyer Denise Watson was assigned to small business, and physician Cynthia Griffin, clinical pharmacist for consumer programs at Humana Inc., was asked to work with the cultural and entertainment development. …

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