Jacksonville residents have long clamored for more river access points and for more ways to travel among our different riverfront neighborhoods by way of the St. Johns. An important Riverside access point is set to transform access to multiple landmarks, including the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, the Garden Club of Jacksonville, River & Post restaurant, Riverside and Memorial Parks, and historic Five Points. A floating dock with four boat slips and water taxi access will be built in the coming months at the foot of Post Street, between the Cummer and the Garden Club. The dock will not only represent river access that connects the north and south banks but also has the potential to connect Riverside in its efforts to become a more bike- and pedestrian-friendly community.
“We are very, very excited about it. I think this, along with the bike path being built this summer from San Marco over to Riverside and the Riverside Arts Market (RAM), I think they are two things that are going to open Riverside up to more of the broader community in Jacksonville,” says Riverside Avondale Preservation (RAP) Board Chair Brooks Andrews, in a Resident News story. “I think it will make a big difference not only to our community but also to the accessibility to the broader Jacksonville area.”
Construction of the dock is set to begin in early summer, but many Riverside residents and Five Points business owners hope that it is just the first step of a larger beautification effort. Spurred on by the dock project, a group of these individuals, calling themselves the Five Points Collaborative, set a goal two years ago to transform the foot of Post Street. The group envisions a welcoming place for those who dock in their boats, one that has signage directing them to nearby restaurants, shopping, and entertainment. The collaborative includes the organizers of RAM and RAP members who are urging uniform signage for the entire area to help visitors get around.
“If you look at the area, when you get off the water taxi and walk into the area between the Garden Club and the Cummer, there is just a parking lot, there is no wayfinding signage,” says RAP Executive Director Warren Jones. “You wouldn’t know where Memorial Park was or RAM was on Saturdays, and it would be difficult to identify where Five Points was. Some of the sidewalks are in disrepair; they’re narrow as they were built many years ago. Some of the overhead lighting is inadequate, the treescape looks tired and needs to be replaced.”
The area currently features 55 diagonal parking spaces with no flora or other ornamentation. In July 2020, RAP proposed plans to the city’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department that introduce wayfinding, streetlights, extended sidewalks, a new tree canopy to shade cars and pedestrians, and a small park between the parking area and the dock with bike racks and twin live oak trees. As of late March, the collaborative’s landscaping and park project had not yet been budgeted or funded, but the group’s hopes remain high. “[The dock] is a perfect entryway into that location,” says Andrews. “Our hopes are that some funding is going to be able to be available at some point in time, where something like this can be added at the right time.”
The new dock alone marks an important step in connecting the Riverside community and the banks of the St. Johns. The availability of bike and pedestrian paths in the area is already growing, and the St. Johns River Taxi is operating between the riverbanks to connect landmark locations including RAM, the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront, Veterans Memorial Arena, the Baseball Grounds, DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Jacksonville Riverfront, Friendship Fountain, and Metropolitan Park. If these efforts can expand to incorporate easy foot travel to RAM, Riverside Park, Memorial Park, and to the Five Points merchants and shopping area, our city’s amenities begin to interlace into an even more welcoming place.