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copperfiend

T-U Article: A new view for downtown

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T-U Article(Subscription Required)

The Florida Times-Union

February 23, 2006

A new view for downtown

By JOE LIGHT

The Times-Union

He lit the bridges, and now he wants to light downtown.

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Tri Vu, the president of local firm TTV Architects, has begun to lobby downtown advocates and city leaders with yet another vision for downtown, one that he says does not conflict with the mayor's recently revealed downtown vision and could reinvigorate major retail corridors.

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Video: Nov. 2003 video report on planned Landing expansion Video: 2003 Model of the proposed Jacksonville Landing expansion Virtual Tour: The Landing during the day Virtual Tour: The Landing at night

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The plan, which Vu has dubbed "Downtown Connections," identifies paths between attractions -- such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Florida Theatre -- to restore with themed lighting, signs, art, and streetscape to unite downtown in a walkable environment.

Although Vu said he has worked on his plan since October, Mayor John Peyton earlier this month detailed a separate plan for downtown that included a renovation of The Jacksonville Landing to include more open space and a pedestrian walkway over the Main Street Bridge.

Vu's vision focuses on streetscape.

For example, near the Florida Theatre, architects for TTV have designed a street plan with named stars on the sidewalk similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, public art on street corners, and lights and banner advertisements for productions reminiscent of Times Square in New York.

Right now, the idea is far from bearing fruit. Its implementation would require buy-in from several city departments, local businesses, and significant funding. But Vu has lobbied for and implemented another project that is widely considered a success -- the lighting of Jacksonville's bridges for Super Bowl XXXIX.

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Tri Vu's downtown plan would identify paths between attractions -- such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Florida Theatre. TTV Architects --------------------------------------------------

By hitting the pavement and talking to decisionmakers around town, Vu hopes he can again convert creativity and optimism into action. He estimates his firm has invested about 250 man hours, spread over its six architects, in a project that has no certainty of a financial payoff.

On Monday, Vu met with representatives from several organizations including the Jacksonville Museum of Modern Art, the Cultural Council, and Downtown Vision Inc. Later this month, he is planning to meet with Planning Department director Mike Saylor, and next month, with several representatives from the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission.

Several of the attendees said they were impressed with the plan.

"When you're maneuvering through a city you may or may not be familiar with, the visual markers that direct you need to be dynamic," said George Kinghorn, director of the Jacksonville Museum of Modern Art. "The plan is very innovative and forward thinking."

Robert Arleigh White, executive director of the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville, said he thinks the plan acknowledges the importance of integrating cultural attractions with the larger fabric of downtown to create a vibrant community with restaurants and retail.

TTV estimates the cost to implement the plan at about $700,000 per block, and Vu envisions part of that cost being offset by corporate sponsors. A local company could name a star in front of the Florida Theatre, for example. City officials or local businesses would have to pick up any deficit.

For the bridge lighting, city officials juggled federal funds earmarked for transportation "enhancements," such as sidewalks and landscaping.

Although Vu has just begun to show maps and renderings to city decisionmakers, his success with the bridge lighting idea leaves his supporters optimistic.

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Tri Vu's downtown vision focuses on streetscape. For example, near the Florida Theatre, architects for TTV have designed a street plan with named stars on the sidewalk similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, public art on street corners, and lights and banner advertisements for productions reminiscent of Times Square in New York. TTV Architects --------------------------------------------------

"He has a great track record at finding doable projects and getting support behind them," said Terry Lorince, executive director of Downtown Vision Inc.

Vu hopes that the Downtown Connections plan won't get lost in the city's planning for the Mayor's Office "big idea" revealed earlier this month.

"If people don't think it's a good idea, there's nothing I can do," Vu said. "But we need some action downtown now."

joe.lightjacksonville.com, (904) 359-4689

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I really like it but will businesses cooperate? They sure didn't with the new northbank riverwalk!

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Hey, copperfiend, I don't remember if I had a chance to welcome you to UrbanPlanet or not. So if I didn't, Hello! :)

Just a heads-up: I think the admins would like it if we didn't post full articles on this site. You can just post the link to the article, and maybe a few snippets from the actual news story. :thumbsup:

That being said....

I absolutely LOVE the idea of having a viable path from JMOMA and the FL Theatre! I think any new "downtown plan" should focus on its interior, the decaying streets. Trust me, the waterfront is fine, it doesn't need any more attention from the city! (except the Landing of course....)

But making a path between these two locations would be quite a challenge, as east of Laura Street, Monroe and Duval are kind of...dead. So any east-west pedestrian travel would be better off on Forsyth or Adams.

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The plans you saw are just a piece of the overall scheme. This area is directly outside of Tri Vu's office and he sees it every day, which is why he modeled it. This plan would most certainly include all of downtown, however, it may be broken into different district specific styles.

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Some renderings....

117954_400.jpg

A rendering of Tri Vu's "Downtown Connections" plan. The streetscape would unite downtown in a walkable environment.

117953_400.jpg

Tri Vu's downtown plan would identify paths between attractions -- such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Florida Theatre.

117952_400.jpg

Tri Vu's downtown vision focuses on streetscape. For example, near the Florida Theatre, architects for TTV have designed a street plan with named stars on the sidewalk similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, public art on street corners, and lights and banner advertisements for productions reminiscent of Times Square in New York.

Click Here for the article

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