Jumping through all of the governmental hoops required to redevelop downtown into a thriving district can be tedious and painstakingly slow.
While that boulder of transformative plans isn’t racing down the hill yet, it’s definitely rolling and picking up speed.
One area that won’t be recognizable in a few years is the Sports and Entertainment Complex.
Jaguars owner Shad Khan, the Downtown Investment Authority and the Mayor’s Office are working to check off the boxes needed to bring Khan’s plans for Metropolitan Park and the Shipyards to fruition.
The amphitheater already being built next to EverBank Field, Daily’s Place, is in a race against time to open with a concert Memorial Day weekend.
Jaguars officials assure it will be done, and that venue alone will draw people to the area on a regular basis.
Khan’s plans for a first-class, name-brand hotel, retail space, housing and parks will add even more life to the area.
Intuition Ale Works and Manifest Distilling have already opened on Bay Street as it leads to the stadium, and this week the DIA took a step to bring even more entertainment there.
A group led by real estate investors Farley and Paul Grainger have big plans for the block next to Intuition Ale.
The most prominent building on that block housed the George Doro Fixture Co., which was established in 1919.
The historic building is slated to become an entertainment center with what is described as a “boutique bowling alley,” a bar and a restaurant.
A second phase of the development, due in three to five years, would replace old warehouses on the property with a hotel or residences.
The tail end of Forsyth Street, which the city abandoned, would become an open pedestrian pathway on event days with the possibility of temporary cafes on each side of the street.
When all of these projects are done, people going to a Jaguars game, to the Florida-Georgia game, to concerts at Daily’s Place, to an event at Veterans Memorial Arena or to a Jumbo Shrimp game at The Baseball Grounds will have plenty to do before and after.
The area will be hopping and finally deserve the title of “Entertainment Complex.”
And that should serve as a warning to the owners of The Jacksonville Landing.
The Landing has become one of the stumbling blocks to revitalizing downtown. It’s old and tired and in need of a fresh approach for a piece of property that is critical to downtown’s riverfront.
The Landing has been the default entertainment spot for crowds after college football games.
That will soon stop with the advent of a thoroughly active Sports and Entertainment Complex.
Toney Sleiman, one of the Landing’s owners, has been stubborn in his demands about the Landing.
It doesn’t help that Sleiman, who was a big supporter of former Mayor Alvin Brown, isn’t exactly close to Mayor Lenny Curry (who defeated Brown). And it really doesn’t help that Curry can carry a grudge.
But the outlook for the Landing, already in decline, will only worsen as entertainment draws shift to the east along Bay Street.
An answer about what to do with the Landing and that key piece of property has to be found.
A second stumbling block that has held up downtown’s progress — the Laura Street Trio — is on track to be revived.
Also this week the DIA checked off one of the bureaucratic boxes to move that long awaited redevelopment project forward.
And we aren’t talking about decades until completion.
We’re talking about only a few years until the Trio and the nearby Barnett Bank Building are once again filled with life.
All of this is beginning to roll down the hill, and downtown won’t ever be the same.
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