San Marco by Design: Residents complete neighborhood planning vision

By Susanna P. Barton


San Marco by Design, an intensive one-year focus group study and visioning strategy for San Marco’s commercial and residential core, is now complete and ready the action phase. Organizers hope the packaged study will help better define community planning parameters, design and potential projects as the neighborhood looks toward its future.

The smart growth plan for North San Marco, released last month, was sponsored by several local organizations and individuals including: the City of Jacksonville planning and development department; the San Marco Preservation Society; Healthy Kids, Healthy Jacksonville-Blue Cross Blue Shield; Baptist Hospital Systems; Regions Bank; Mike Balanky; Keith Kimbell; Eddie Fink: and Robert Harris. The final report was produced by the Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida and Flagg Design Studio and was authored by San Marco resident, Valerie Feinberg.

The plan was sent to City Planning Director Calvin Burney in June. Organizers hope to set up a meeting with Burney to discuss ways the findings can be best utilized.

Having the plan on file with the city’s planning office can help future developers and business owners determine the community’s vision before presenting plans.

“We want to be proactive and not reactive,” Feinberg said. “We want this neighborhood to be economically successful and to look good — and retail the character of San Marco.”

The result of the study is a conceptual, community-vetted vision of what North San Marco could look like with proper planning and design. The study is not a prescribed plan, but rather a framework that will help regulate against bad design without being too rigid.

Feinberg described some of the study participants’ top concerns in her summary: “Top issues that surfaced consistently were transportation infrastructure and safety; building form/height and aesthetic quality, preservation of parks and open space, infill development and economic opportunity, infrastructure and storm water management, and parking.”

Now the group is looking at ways it can take the study’s goals and turn them into objectives and later strategy.

“I don’t think this needs to be too restrictive — we want it to be more vision focused and expressive and keep it more fluid so we have the ability to react to changes in the market,” said Doug Skiles, president of San Marco Preservation Society.

The study is available online at the preservation society’s website,

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One Response to San Marco by Design: Residents complete neighborhood planning vision

  1. Jacquelyn Lowe July 9, 2012 at 7:23 PM


    On Friday, August 3 from 9 – 11 a.m., the Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida and Healthy Jacksonville Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition will host a community event at Southside Baptist Church to officially release the details of the San Marco By Design project.

    The event will feature keynote presenter Dan Burden, executive director of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute and the students involved with Safe Routes to School at Julia Landon College Prep will be on-hand to share their experiences in how they are building a safe community when they are walking and biking to school. We hope you will join us to lend your voice to the conversation as move the plan into the action phase. Immediately following the event, Dan will lead the group in a walking tour of the San Marco neighborhood to highlight successes and opportunities for improvement in the community.

    Questions about the celebration can be directed to the Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida at (904) 723-2162 x 103.

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