Jump to content



Recommended Posts

  • Replies 63
  • Created
  • Last Reply

I am so happy to have read this. LaVilla, during the Harlem Renaissance, was the hot and hopping place to be in the state (or so said the ancient, former night guard at Chan's Chineese on Main St. who was definitely old enough to have experienced it first-hand). Its own renaissance is far overdue -- nice to see that it is still going forward.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, LaVilla was the place to be. In fact, it was known during that era as the "Harlem of the South". Not many know Ray Charles' career begin in the numerous jazz and blues clubs along Ashley Street. The LaVilla scene was so hot many famous musicians during the era, like Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Langston Hughes for example, came here to play and stayed at the Richmond Hotel, currently the vacant 3 story building next to the Masonic Lodge on Broad.

Unfortunately, we flushed all of that rich black history down the toilet and all we have to show for it is the sterile suburban office environment that sits there today. Anyway after get that off my chest, its good to see somebody expand west of the crater...the courthouse site.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's a shame we couldn't have capitalized on all that culture. It could have been so trendy and classy, with a nightlife and music scene. But alas, we must move on, with some kind of development.

Though this area is kinda..."dead", I'd still like to see some retail space on the ground floor of these new offices. I had always dreamed of one day buying all that vacant land, and building my own mix-use. And it wouldn't be all this gentrification mix-use, it would be affordable, historic-looking, and accurate to its environment. But those are just dreams.....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...
  • 3 weeks later...

LaVilla restaurant still on back burner

by Bradley Parsons

Staff Writer

After two years on the drawing board, a planned LaVilla restaurant looks to be moving closer to reality.

The Downtown Development Authority first looked at plans for the LaVilla Bistro in early 2003. The City Council approved a $2 million incentive package six months later that cleared the way for the neighborhood

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also like the idea of preserving the old Brewster Hospital and the row of shotgun houses and moving them together to form a Lavilla Experience historical museum/meeting place. I think that could provide a tourist attraction with the history of the area, of that type of architecture, of the hospital and even with exhibits re medical treatment back 80-100 yrs ago. I think it would be an interesting place.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This will help promote a "dinner and a show" with this eatery and The Ritz.  I'd like to see some mix-use development move in as well, to help better connect LaVilla with the CBD.  Once the new courthouse open up in like 2047, it'll be a better transition.


Excellent points Legend. Frankly, I'm a little surprised and somewhat disappointed that the city signed off on this project. For $2mm I think the city should have gotten a lot more bang for it's buck. Why not put an RFP out there and see what comes in. Leave the location (in LaVilla ), project design, and uses up to the interested parties. A $100,000 grant and $1.9mm loan might get a mixed-use proposal from someone. There is already a restaurant across from the Ritz. Is it still in business?

The city has thus far blown the opportunity to redevelop LaVilla. It's been obvious from day one, that the city has no plan or vision, for it. Each project that has come along has been viewed in a vaccuum, with no consideration to the overall surroundings or what the end result will be. Residential has been inexplainably ignored.

The Restaurant business is quite risky, and there is no base of customers at this location. This is not a location where restaurant 'buying decisions' are made. Restaurants cluster together for that reason. I don't know how many nights the Ritz is booked per year, but it will need to be high, for this place to survive IMO. Amsterdam Sky Cafe is cutting back to open only on nights when the Arena or Ballpark has an event. It is difficult and rare to support a restaurant only from event-driven sales.

Of course, if the food is good enough and the owners can underwrite the bills until a following can develop, a restaurant CAN succeed at almost any location, but that is the exception, not the rule.

Numerous restaurants have popped up in the downtown core without city assistance. If a residential base were seeded with that money, the restaurants will come on their own.

The River City Brewing Company was the second or third restaurant in that location. I don't know all the details, but the city was involved financially with putting a restaurant there. The original tenant, Harbormasters, failed and the city had egg on it's face. If the same thing happens with this restaurant, expect a new chorus of "the city should leave downtown development to the private sector" from the usual crowd.

I certainly hope that the restaurant succeeds, and I plan to patronize it, because LaVilla needs all the help it can get. But the city is taking a crap shoot with a chunk of money.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are people who actually think the suburban office and parking lot redevelopment of la villa is a success. I think rooftops before restaurants would be better, but we've given it away already.

Did you know?

That Amateur Night at the Ritz every first Friday is always a sell out...

That Urban Design Associates has finished the Brooklyn Master Plan... WHERE IS IT?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting Letter to the Editor in today's T-U. I think this guy is right. There needs to be something already in LaVilla, for the Transportation Center to work. I THink the city needs to do a complete re-evaluation/master plan of LaVilla.


Disregard LaVilla as hub

The $127 million LaVilla transportation hub that was described in the Times-Union has all the earmarks of a white elephant.

Multi-modal transportation hubs can be a good idea when they are in close proximity to high-density office, residential and civic development and are in pedestrian-friendly environments.

LaVilla, however, adjoins the fringe of downtown and is removed from Jacksonville's pedestrian-oriented core, where a transportation hub would be most appropriate.

When Jacksonville redeveloped LaVilla during the last decade, it offered financial incentives to developers to build there rather than the suburbs.

Unfortunately, the sad result of the redevelopment process is that LaVilla has become a collection of disconnected low-density buildings surrounded by parking lots and fences -- a scenario more appropriate for remote suburbs than for an urban neighborhood.

If Jacksonville had the foresight to insist on a well-planned urban landscape in LaVilla, the decision to locate a transportation hub there would have been a better one.

RICHARD SHIELDHOUSE, transportation/trade consultant, Jacksonville

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, I strongly agree with the letter writer's complaints about LaVilla. Nonsensical city policy has turned the place into a suburban office park.

However, I disagree with his incorrect assertion that a LaVilla transportation hub is too far away, or that it needs to be closer to the CBD. I assume the letter writer means that a Hub should be located at the current bus station site?

Anyway, I think LaVilla is a better location than the current bus station for many reasons ...

- The LaVilla hub will connect to the skyway. A 35 cent ride will take anyone to the heart of the CBD ... assuming they are too lazy to take the FIVE MINUTE WALK. (Okay, maybe it's a ten minute walk for you older folks).

- A hub closer to the CBD wouldn't truly be a multi-modal hub anyway. It couldn't connect to an amtrak station.

- The Lavilla site is right by the freeway, ideal for a hub! This keeps all the buses (and the assorted bus station transients) from rambling on through the heart of our CBD. Yet it won't reduce connectivity, because of the skyway.

- Most multi-modal hubs aren't right in the center of everything. Boston's South Station, for example, is located on the southern fringe of downtown. It's kind of close the Chinatown and a few offices, but that's about it. Nearly all the people coming in on the commuter rail and buses then transfer to the subway to get around town.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You know, when the Skyway begins operations out of this hub, will it still be called Prime Osborne Station? I thought about naming it Central, but that's already taken. Then again, it's not really centrally located, but will be a central transfer point. Meh, I'll let JTA decide what to name it....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

City takes new look at moving, restoring Brewster Hospital

Newest estimate $1.7 million to rehabilitate historic structure.



The Times-Union

A plan to move and restore historic Brewster Hospital is being readied by Jacksonville City Hall -- again.

The latest version, being rolled out five years after the city's first draft, calls for moving the 120-year-old vacant hospital from the northwest to the northeast corners of Monroe and Davis streets in Jacksonville's LaVilla neighborhood. The building, Florida's first hospital and nursing school for blacks, would then be rehabilitated, possibly becoming museum and office space.

The work carries a price tag of $1.7 million, more than twice what the city had proposed budgeting for the project last year.

The City Council deferred approving $800,000 for the project last fall because it wasn't sure what the total bill for rehabilitating the structure would be; since then, a historic preservation expert determined the cost to be $1.7 million.

Yet if the hospital is to be restored, doing so isn't getting cheaper. As proposals have come and gone over the years, the city-owned building has fallen further into disrepair. A look at the building now reveals missing windows, pieces of roofing lying on its lawn and pieces of wood ready to fall off the building.

"We don't need any more delays," said City Councilwoman Glorious Johnson, a longtime advocate of the project. "We need to secure it, move it and do work."

Making the move from architectural sketches to magnificently restored building means winning council approval for the money and, to a lesser extent, making sure the relocated building would retain state and federal historic building certification.

City officials are working to secure both items.

A bill authorizing $1.7 million for the building has been written and is waiting to be introduced into council. But first, earlier versions of legislation need to be either merged with the new bill or withdrawn from council committees.

Mayor John Peyton is "committed" to restoring the structure and preserving the hospital's "heritage and contributions to our community," said Peyton aide Lisa Rowe.

The city has applied to have to the building's designation on state and national historic building registers transferred if the hospital is moved across the street. Moving historic buildings nulls any prior certification.

Though a final determination has yet to be made, Rowe said initial feedback from state and federal authorities is positive because the building would remain so close to its original location.

Brewster Hospital is forced to move because in 2001 the city promised the land its sits on to local architect Ted Pappas so he could construct an office building. It's a swap because the city tore down his office building to widen Riverside Avenue.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree, Lake. That way you would have a concentration of historic buildings that would give visitors a better feel for the way things used to be. I dont understand the rationale for moving it to that corner of Monroe Street. Is it just the only available land? Also, I hope the building will survive the move. It looks to be in poor shape.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

City delays Urban League deal

by Bradley Parsons

Staff Writer

The Jacksonville Urban League will have to wait to buy its West Union Street headquarters from the City.

The deal has already been negotiated. A redevelopment agreement with the City calls for the Urban League to pay $200,000 up front and then pay off a $600,000 mortgage over 10 years for the office building at 903 West Union Street. The Urban League has been trying to exercise its option on the building for more than a year, said Richard Danford, the group

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

Everytime I pass the FCCJ downtown campus.. i get a little frustrated. FCCJ has some halfway decent, new buildings sitting on the downtown campus... but instead of putting them right on the street, they are all back, behind fields of grass. It really would have added to the urban environment had they been placed at street side, with the nice sidewalks, lined with old lighting, palms, and trees. but instead, it just adds to the suburban look of lavilla. GRR!

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.