Downtown is the center of any city. In Jacksonville this especially true. Just ask the bees in this photo. I had my lines for the media all worked out. “I’m so pleased to announce five thousand new residents Downtown. These residents also create jobs in urban agriculture and will produce local food to be served all over Jacksonville.”
On a serious note though, Downtown Jacksonville is the epicenter of art and culture, business, worship, and government. Its, ahem, abuzz with activity. Just today, we were lucky enough to have President Bill Clinton address a standing room only crowd at the Times Union Center for the Performing Arts. His talk, coordinated by Mayor Brown, really hit home for me as he noted several times that a vibrant Downtown is vital to the overall quality of life and economy of a community and that collaboration and the spirit of cooperation will move us forward. To me it sounded like my job description. I want everyone to know that if you have a question, or an idea, or even a concern about our Downtown, my door is always open. We will continue to work together in common and innovative ways to make our Downtown as great as it can be.
And we don’t necessarily need huge world famous dignitaries to make it enjoyable. In fact, just last night, I took a stroll with my six year old son down Forsyth St for a slice of pizza. We were invited to sit with Erik Hart, the director of the historic Florida Theatre, in his office (a bench outside the theatre). Erik and I talked about his event that night and nights past and we talked about the River City Renaissance that helped renovate the theatre to the jewel it is today. Moments like these remind me that Downtown is a neighborhood as well. If you are Downtown often, you know what I mean. You see the same folks quite a bit. You share stories and fist bumps as you hustle off to City Hall or the Library or a good meal. You get asked for directions. ALL THE TIME. It is very laid back. Its not perfect, but its good. I hope you’ll share some time down here and get to know us. One of the greatest things about Jacksonville is meeting cool people. We look forward to meeting you.
Have a great weekend.