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DIA working to attract more restaurants to Downtown Jax to encourage growth

“Vibrant.” “Urban.” “Fun.”

Thoseare the words the City of Jacksonville wants you to be able to use to describe Downtown Jacksonville... in the near future.

Action News Jax reporter Courtney Cole spoke to Lori Boyer, CEO of the Downtown Investment Authority, about its plans to focus on attracting more restaurants.

Boyer told Cole the idea is to build up a restaurant scene, which would then encourage more people to not only want to visit — but stay.

"Jacksonville is still quaint,” Renee said.

But city leaders are ready for a change.

They want the downtown area to be booming!

But for that to happen, Renee told Cole that downtown needs to build more apartments. “Affordable housing perhaps… not like low-income, but affordable housing."

Ana Kamiar told Cole she’d like to see more green spaces…

“For people to just kind of hang out and be outside without feeling that they're on other people's property. Feeling like Downtown is actually theirs.”

…maybe even a skate park.


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“One of the considerations I heard from a friend is to try to create a skate park so that the community — including the kids that live all around — will have this beautiful area to take their wheels and kind of create that kind of community, full of life in that area,” Kamiar said.

"There could definitely be more food spaces."

That's exactly how the Downtown Investment Authority wants to attract more people...through their taste buds.

"This is a very targeted food and beverage initiative and it is in targeted geographic areas,” Boyer told Cole.

Boyer says they’re planning to give restaurants incentives to set-up-shop... in the central core of downtown.

“The idea is focusing on the central core of Downtown. Not Brooklyn and Southbank and sports and entertainment — but what many of us think of as the core of Downtown,” Boyer told Action News Jax.

They're looking to potentially pay up to half of the costs of tenant improvements in vacant storefronts.

"The money is coming from tax revenue that is generated in the Downtown area — by increases in value. So when the value increases, and it generates more tax revenue, we get to plow that tax revenue back in to make it grow more,” Boyer said.

The CEO says the goal is to make Downtown safe and walkable, with a lot of activity.

Ideally, the DIA would like to open new businesses around the same time.

We can kind of time this with the Friendship Fountain completion, and the completion of the projection on CSX building behind the performance arts center, and the Fuller Warren multi-use path and the first phase of the Emerald Trail,” Boyer said.

Boyer told Cole she would also like to improve public infrastructure Downtown.

“We're making some roadway improvements, we're planting trees, we're trying to place public art in these specific areas. We're looking at it as a more comprehensive way to create some really vibrant zones.”

So when will this plan go into play?

Boyer said it will take about would two months before the DIA board works through what they would offer and how many businesses are interested.

Then, there’d be about a 12-month period for build-up.

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  • The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department rescued a man that was stuck in a tree in Atlantic Beach Sunday afternoon.  Video taken from the scene shows a ladder truck ascending into a large oak tree.   JFRD tweeted that the man was rescued from the tree safely and was taken to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries.
  • As many as six people were shot in a violent weekend across Jacksonville. And the common thing in all these cases, no arrests. Two of the shootings happened within a block of each other on Justina Road in Arlington.  A man was sitting at a bus stop by when he was shot by someone in a red SUV on Saturday afternoon.  Hours later a person was shot nearby and hospitalized with injuries.  Late Sunday night a man was shot in the leg on Old Kings near Edgewood. The man was taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.  On Friday night two men in their 20's were injured in a shooting off Kings Road on the northwest side.  One man was hit in the lower leg and the other was struck in the upper torso. Both were taken to a local hospital for treatment.  JSO says the shooting happened in a Shot Spotter area, and the technology system captured three gunshots.  On Friday around 8pm, a man in his 30’s was shot and killed on Brooklyn Road in the Moncrief area. JSO detectives were trying to locate any witnesses or video surveillance. 
  • Coming off a weekend in the 70's, a strong cold front brought drenching rain on Sunday afternoon, followed by a chill. Action News Jax Meteorologist Corey Simma is tracking temps well below average.  “Mostly sunny and cold with temperatures in the 50’s all day. And then clear and cold Monday night and Tuesday morning with some patchy inland frost”, said Simma.   Tuesday looks to be the coldest day this week, as we’ll struggle to reach 50 degrees. A breeze will keep it feeling even colder. We stay below average on Wednesday, with temperatures only in the 50’s.  The mid-60’s return on Thursday, and on Friday we’ll be near 70 but with scattered showers. 
  • The Jacksonville Humane Society and Animal Care and Protective Services announced the city of Jacksonville, once again, earned the no-kill designation for the year of 2019. According to Best Friends Animal Society, “A no-kill community is a city or town in which every brick-and-mortar shelter serving and/or located within that community has reached a 90% save rate or higher and adheres to the no-kill philosophy, saving every animal who can be saved.'  According to a release put out by the JHS, the save rate for APCS was 90 percent and for JHS it was 95 percent, making a citywide save rate of 93 percent.  In total, 16,874 animals entered the JHS shelters in 2019, which is a significant decrease from 19,366 animals in 2018, according to the JHS.  According to JHS, Jacksonville earned the distinction of being the largest city in the United States to earn a no-kill status. The city has maintained that status until last year when ACPS save rate fell to 86 percent.  “Examining the data and trends in 2017 and 2018 resulted in our renewed focus on cats and kittens in 2019,” said Deisler. “As a community, we had to take a look at ourselves ask – what can we do to save those lives? We knew that with the help of our community, a return to no-kill was possible. We are excited about the results from 2019 and even more excited for 2020. Thank you, Jacksonville!”

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