June 21, 2021 6:00am

Power Poll: Jacksonville's power elite skeptical about new downtown development proposals

Many power players say they'll wait and see on plans to revamp North Bank of downtown Jacksonville

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By Drew Dixon
Jacksonville, FL Correspondent

This is Drew Dixon with the results of June’s Power Poll of Jacksonville’s movers and shakers and what they think about a flurry of proposals for new developments downtown.

A majority of Jacksonville city leaders are skeptical about the two main proposals made early this month for new development on the North Bank of the city’s urban core. SouthEast Development Group, unveiled proposals to add 10 new buildings that would be included in the mixed-use plan amounting to about 2.3 million square feet of residential, commercial and retail use between the site of the former Landing shopping complex east to the former City Hall and courthouse complex that are now vacant lots.

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Meanwhile, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan publicly unveiled his proposal to revamp some of the property surrounding TIAA Bank Field that would include a five-star hotel, an office complex that would rise six stories and an overhaul of the city-owned marina on the river. All of the Jags’ proposals would be about a half mile east of the SouthEast Development construction.

But Power Poll respondents appear to be undergoing downtown redevelopment fatigue. The majority of people who took part in the Power Poll asking about these proposals are in a “wait-and-see” mode before they get too excited.

Some 52.2% of those polled said they view the latest plans as just more proposals and they won’t buy into the projects until they actually see construction on the developments. Another 45.5% of those responding said finally, Jacksonville sees some positive signs for downtown and another 4.3% said they’re not sure about the latest proposals.

There was a wider margin in terms of which proposed developments are the most important. Out of those who responded, 56.3% said the SouthEast Development Group proposals for major overhauls of the areas between the old Landing site and the former City Hall and courthouse should have priority attention.

Another 34.8% said they see the development around the stadium as deserving priority and another 8.7% say they’re not sure or had no opinion.

While there seems to be reluctance by many power players to buy into artist’s renderings of fancy new buildings before anything is approved by the city, there is serious support for using city tax incentives to get the developments constructed, if they’re given the green light.

Out of those responding, 78.3% said that if we want the city to advance, we’ll have to kick in some help through tax dollars. Another 13% said they’re not sure or have no opinion on tax incentives for the developments while another 8.7% said any tax incentives would be just another example of the rich getting special treatment.

This month's Power Poll was conducted between June 14 and June 17 and the poll was sent in email to 104 of Jacksonville’s top power players. Out of those, 23 people responded, which amounts to a 22.12% response rate.

This is Drew Dixon and we’ll return in July with another Power Poll seeking the perspectives of Jacksonville’s elite leaders. Thanks for taking part.

About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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