Jacksonville, FL (August 3, 2021) – Riverfront Parks Now (RPN) is pleased to announce its enthusiastic support for the Jessie Ball duPont Fund’s recently unveiled Esplanade Conceptual Plan for the publicly owned Shipyards and Metropolitan Park lands.
The Esplanade Plan was developed by international design firms DVDL and WXY in conjunction with the duPont Fund and the Downtown Investment Authority. It incorporates sound planning principles and follows the preliminary results of the duPont Fund’s community engagement process that included benchmarking research, surveys, community meetings and lengthy discussions with local experts and key stakeholders.
The plan includes 49.5 acres of public parkland and reimagines Metropolitan Park and the Shipyards as one active park along the river with wide-open greens, unobstructed river views, kayak ramps, walking piers, splash zones, spaces dedicated to boutique retail, dining, and more. The Esplanade Plan also incorporates the relocation of MOSH and a luxury hotel proposed by Jaguars owner Shad Khan, as well as the Orleck Naval Ship Museum.
“Riverfront Parks Now has been advocating for the city to prioritize public access and create a Riverfront for All, based on a review of numerous urban waterfront examples,” said Nancy Powell, Chair of the RPN Steering Committee. “The Esplanade Plan aligns with our vision and benefits our community with activated riverfront spaces that will first and foremost attract people downtown and provide access and enjoyment, but also will reduce flooding damage, connect to the Emerald Trail, and attract business investment. That is why we’re encouraging the community to rally behind this public space plan and the corresponding social, cultural and urban planning principles.”
“This is not yet a final park design, and the amenities and features will be developed with further public input,” said Powell, “But first we need the park boundaries to be delineated so that the city and collaborating entities can plan in a holistic way and with a phased approach. The duPont Fund has shown here that it’s possible to provide ample space for play areas, cafes and bars, native plants, and cultural activities as well as space to host large events, festivals, and Jaguar celebrations, too.”
As part of its endorsement, Riverfront Parks Now is asking its members, supporters, and community leaders to voice their support for the duPont Fund’s Esplanade Plan. RPN is also urging local elected leaders to take steps now to permanently protect the 49.5 acres of public riverfront property to realize this bold vision.
“This is a plan where everyone wins, so we ask that the Downtown Investment Authority, the Mayor, and the City Council align to provide support and funding for this effort, as they did so wonderfully on the Emerald Trail,” said Powell. “Thanks to all the work the duPont Fund and their teams put into this, this is a plan we can all believe in, and now is the time to bring it to life.”
The Esplanade Plan can be viewed at Activating Jacksonville’s Riverfront: Public Space Planning Principles and Shipyard Conceptual Plans (dupontfund.org). For more information about Riverfront Parks Now go to RiverFrontParksNow.org.