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bobliocatt

Lessons learned in San Diego

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The Chamber of Commerce held its annual Leadership Trip last week. This year, local government and business leaders traveled to San Diego to see how things are done there. Here are some of their impressions from the trip:

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^^ I was thrilled to read these comments. This is what I was hoping for. San Diego is a good mentor for Jax in terms of downtown redevelopment in general, and a convention center in particular.

If the city can add the convention visitor component to the residential development underway, together, they would be the engine to bring to fruition the downtown and inner-city that we all want Jacksonville to have.

Below is an excert from Karen Mathis' column from the T-U website. It looks as though the existing Prime Osborn Center did not make the top three sites in the recently conducted study. I wish they would make the study public. I'm sure we'll be hearing from Jake Godbold again very soon.

Councilwoman discusses possible sites for new convention center

Presidential politics didn't come up at the Monday evening "women in power" meeting of the Women Business Owners of North Florida, but local issues did.

Among them: A larger convention center and the debated Duval County Courthouse; the small business ordinance; economic incentives; and the extent of early voting.

Development consultant and former City Council member Ginny Myrick moderated the panel, which comprised council President Elaine Brown; council member Mia Jones; Jacksonville Economic Development Commissioner Susan Hartley; and Brenda Priestly Jackson, a Duval County School Board member representing U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown.

Here's a summary:

Brown said the city "can't dodge the bullet much longer" in determining the need for a larger convention center. "Our city and its leaders have to commit to be a convention city," she said. She has not seen a consultant's site report, but understands it "will say we need a new convention center elsewhere" than the Prime Osborn Convention Center. She said later that she understood that three of the eight sites studied were the Fairgrounds near the sports complex on the Northbank and the JEA site and the Radisson Riverwalk Hotel property on the Southbank. She did not know if those were the top three sites, and that expansion of the Prime Osborn also was under consideration. She said the city needs to ensure infrastructure, such as hotels and entertainment, are available to support a center. "We need a bigger convention center" she said. "The decision to go forward as a convention city needs to start at the top at the mayor's office."

(Separately, I hear that the east side of the Shipyards property and the City Hall Annex on the Northbank also are among the eight sites in the report.)

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What a great way to compare cities, and project the future of downtown Jacksonville's growth and success. They noticed how much impact a properly designed convention "complex" (center+hotel+retail) had on San Diego. I like the idea of using the Radisson site, but with its future plans, I'm beginning to wonder if that'll ever work out. I'm more concerned on what'll happen to the ol' Terminal. I think it would make an awesome Children's Museum!

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How about the Shipyard's site, if LandMar doesn't take over it. Doesn't the city already own the land? If not, then I'd go with JEA's property, if a new center must be built.

However, I still think, if the costs are too high, we can make the existing Prime Osborn site work with some creative thinking.

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How about the Shipyard's site, if LandMar doesn't take over it.  Doesn't the city already own the land?  If not, then I'd go with JEA's property, if a new center must be built.

However, I still think, if the costs are too high, we can make the existing Prime Osborn site work with some creative thinking.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The western edge of the Shipyards site was one of the sites evaluated according to the Busines Journal a few weeks back. That is my choice, if the Radisson site isn't available.

It does seem like the Radisson owners would at least consider selling part of their site for a center. They would benefit from the business it would bring, plus a new hotel is part of their plans anyway. They could even "swap" their site for part of the JEA site. After all, the city owns JEA, and at the moment, JEA doesn't have a buyer. The remainder of the JEA site could then be sold to a separate party for a lower total price that what JEA wants for the entire site.

That would also allow the convention center to be directly on the skyway.

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If a new site is chosen, I'd go with the Shipyard's site. Placing a new state of the art center, at the shipyards would also be another valid reason to extend the Skyway, down Bay Street all the way to Alltel Stadium. Thus connecting several high traffic destination uses, such as the Bay Street entertainment district, The Convention Center, the arena, ballpark, & Alltel Stadium with the rest of downtown and the southbank.

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Personally it would be fine with me, if that area was clogged up with pedestrian foot traffic. That would definately benefit nearby retailers, downtown's image, boost property values, and ridership levels for the skyway. Imo, that could be a good problem to have.

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