The seeds of Riverfront Parks Now were planted among resiliency and revitalization conversations in early 2020. Given the flooding from Irma and sea level rise, a small group began to meet regularly to discuss how we can make our city more resilient to flooding and sea level rising. How can we make our city more inviting and beautiful, and one that people visit more frequently and spend more time when they are there?
At the same time, we recognized a number of converging factors that allowed for a fresh look and sense of urgency about our riverfront opportunities. In 2019, both the Landing and the old Courthouse were torn down, and in 2020 the development rights expired on the Shipyards. An analysis showed that more than 50% of the riverfront was now city-owned, in contrast to the remaining riverfront in Duval County that is 90% privately owned. Other key events showed a need to act with a sense of urgency.
View a map of publically owned riverfront property downtown
We set about to learn from other cities, and what we found was that in almost every city with a river or waterfront, these cities have created significant, iconic waterfront parks and extensive green spaces for all to enjoy. And these places have become the centerpiece for a revitalization of the core city.