As we present our 28th annual Art and Architecture issue to you, Jacksonville still struggles with what to do with, well, itself. 

 Projects downtown continue to remain hot topics, and lately they are even more controversial. What to do with downtown? So many wonderful projects presented, yet we seem to constantly stand in our own way.  One thing we cannot deny is that the river keeps moving even if downtown projects do not.

A River Runs Through It

For anyone traveling over the bridges of the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, it can sometimes feel like we are separate from the river that weaves its way through the city. A 2021 Public Space survey found that only 19 percent of Jaxsons go to the riverfront often to enjoy greenspace and the outdoors. Limited areas for residents to access the riverfront or interact with nature have restricted opportunities for the city to have the bustling waterfront vibe that so many other metro areas offer. Since 2014, Jacksonville has enjoyed some of the country’s fastest population growth; the migration from large cities during COVID-19 only further accelerated that growth. (Read more of Laura Riggs’s feature article starting on page 24.)

Ford Motor Company

One example of Jacksonville getting in its own way is the Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant. For nearly a hundred years, Jacksonville was home to one of industrial architect Albert Kahn’s “automotive cathedrals” before it was demolished in June 2023 by its owner, Amkin Hill Street, LLC, just one year before the building would have reached its century mark in 2024.

Charlotte, North Carolina’s former Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant became Camp North End and is a perfect example of repurposing historic buildings successfully.

Now controversy swirls around projects like the historic Laura Street Trio which has already undergone several rounds of redesigns and once again sits in limbo. Will it be the next to go? We sure hope not! 

Jacksonville has a plethora of incredibly talented architects and on these pages of Arbus Magazine you’ll get an opportunity to see some of their impressive projects all across North Florida. 

Enjoy putting a little culture and fun in your life. 

                                                                      Cinda Sherman, Publisher     

It’s all somewhere on every corner!                          

Author: Arbus

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