Bar scene, family friendly or somewhere in the middle- Jacksonville Beach wants to figure out its identity for the future.
A City Council workshop is designed at reviewing whether to create a “hospitality zone” in Downtown.
“Open for long periods of time during the day, but there’s something for everybody,” says Mayor Charlie Latham.
Latham says while younger crowds enjoy the nighttime bar scene, others are turned away by it. From what he’s hearing from the community so far, he believes the city should be moving in a more “family friendly” direction.
“That’s the initial direction we’re heading in, and then we’re going to leave it up to the city to tell us where they want us to go,” he says.
Latham says the past 20+ years have been marked with a lot of change for the City. It’s gone from “blighted” to rebuilt to moving in a direction with an actual “design”. The “family friendly” goal he thinks of right now is something reminiscent of a Downtown Disney, where families can walk down streets, in and out of small stores, and enjoy a late dinner at a restaurant.
He admits that not all of the infrastructure may be in place, but it’s part of a phased response.
“We may not want to do a parking garage right away, we may want to do that in ten years,” he says.
Latham says the ultimate vision they settle on will be integrated with the Community Redevelopment Plan which includes addressing concerns like parking. He expects planning to move pretty quickly, although nothing is going to change overnight.
The workshop is at Jacksonville Beach City Hall tonight at 6:30PM. Latham says this is the first of many public meetings, but even if you cannot attend you can still call or email your representatives to voice your concern.
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