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bobliocatt

Bay Street gets ready for its closeup

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Liz Flaisig

Staff Writer

DOWNTOWN -- East Bay Street doesn't resemble an eclectic entertainment corridor of retail shops and restaurants yet, but property owners and city officials say it will before Super Bowl XXXIX.

"By Nov. 1, we'll know most of our Super Bowl tenants," said Jim Bailey, a property owner and president of Bailey Publishing and Communications Inc. "We can't talk about the leases yet, but [the buildings] will be presentable and we plan to lease all the space that's completed."

The roughly three-block row of historic buildings known as Bay Street Town Center will offer 167,900 square feet of redeveloped space that organizers hope will attract art galleries, restaurants, pubs and "unique" retailers.

It is modeled after projects such as Ybor City, the Tampa suburb that has become a destination entertainment district offering an eclectic mix of restaurants, bars and shops.

Although Bay Street Town Center is a private venture, it is receiving about $1.4 million of taxpayer money for new sidewalks, landscaping, old-style lighting and on-street parking. The north side of the street will be finished by the end of the year, and improvements to the southern side will begin after the Super Bowl.

In addition to infrastructure, the city is funding loans and fa

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I just don't think that Bay Street will have that "big boom" of development I was expecting. It'll be a slower, less dynamic start, but the sidewalk renovations will pay off one day. I hope these new loft projects come into fruition, as well as Orchid. What a snazzy name for a night club!

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In reality the developments that jacksonville has undergone in the past couple of years and planned development is really happening at such a rapid pace. Something of that magnitude is bound to run into complications. I just hope that it gets completed.

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