The number one complaint we hear about Jacksonville is - with all this water, where's the waterfront dining?! Where's the waterfront retail? Parks? Walkways? Anything??
Jacksonville is a city blessed with the St. Johns River, the intercoastal, and the Atlantic Ocean all within a 40 minute drive. However, we often get questions about what our residents can do to take advantage of all that water. There are certainly plenty of water sports, sand bars, and open spaces to ski and tube. There are beautiful beaches and lots of secret fishing spots. But for those of us who would like to enjoy the water from a cafe, bar, or restaurant? Those sacred spots are few and far between.
But the Downtown Investment Authority has some news that could change all of that! The two parcels of land once home to the former Duval County Courthouse and City Council are now beautifully vacant plots of grassy land just waiting for a developer to come along and give us all what we've been waiting for - waterfront attractions in downtown Jacksonville! The 8.38-acre green space at 220 and 330 E. Bay Street will be called The Ford at Bay, an homage to the site of former river crossings where Native Americans and travelers would cross. The DIA say the space should be mixed-use including offices and possibly a hotel. However, the DIA is specific in its plans to include retail space. Specifically the paperwork states 80% of the buildings' frontage must be retail, though some might be on a second floor.
A semi-public space is required as part of the development, and a material number of boat slips must be available to visitors (great news for Jacksonville boaters!). And, of course, you'll find plenty of spaces for restaurants - waterfront restaurants!
Developers are currently providing their bids to the DIA for approval with hopes that a final developer will be chosen to break ground on the project by February 20. The goal as it stands now is to have a beautiful new site full of shops and restaurants on the water by the year 2022. As of now, a developer from New York, Spandrel Development Partners LLC, is the frontrunner to create the perfect waterfront space, but that will not be official until February 20.
While there has been plenty of discourse regarding what will happen with the waterfront property that was once The Landing, it seems the forward momentum with Ford on Bay is in full swing! We are definitely looking forward to bragging to our soon-to-be residents about the beautiful new waterfront space downtown dedicated to enjoying the natural surroundings our city has to offer!
What kinds of restaurants and shops would you like to see going into the new space?