‘Demolition is not development,’ taxpayers tell city leaders regarding the Jacksonville Landing

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Hundreds of residents are urging city leaders to pump the brakes on demolishing the Jacksonville Landing until they can show taxpayers a solid plan for what will replace it and who will pay for it.

The office of Mayor Lenny Curry announced an $18 million plan to reclaim the property from Jacksonville Landing Investments and tear it down last week.

“Tearing down is not development,” said Ed Malesky, a Jacksonville Landing tenant. “Tearing down is tearing down, and we are left with a pile of rubble.”

Malesky is the president of the Art Center Cooperative, which rents two spaces inside the Jacksonville Landing.

The plans to demolish the property left him with no choice but to plan for the future quickly, something he says the city is not doing.

Last week’s announcement set aside $15 million to reclaim the property, $1.5 million to help tenants relocate and another $1.5 million for the demolition. It did not say anything about what would replace the Landing or who would pay for it.

“The idea of tearing it down without a plan to replace it just doesn’t make sense,” Malesky said..

He’s not alone. This change.org petition is urging the city council to deny the demolition until a “clear, suitable vision is achieved.”

Last year, the mayor said he’d like to see the Landing torn down and turned into a combination of retail and green space called Riverfront Plaza.

Last week First Coast News reported a group called AquaJax and the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens are pushing to replace the Jacksonville Landing for an aquarium, estimated to bring in 800,000 people to downtown Jacksonville each year.

The city government has not elaborated on any concrete plans for the site, or for the site of the old city hall annex building which came down in a January implosion, leaving some residents to wonder if there’s a plan for the future of downtown at all.

“I don’t know if we’ve ever really sat down and determined where we want this city to be,” Malesky said.

The change.org petition has almost 500 signatures. Whether it holds any weight with city council members should emerge in the coming weeks.

Author: Eric Alvarez FIRST COAST NEWS

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