Riverfront Parks endorses duPont Fund’s conceptual Esplanade Plan

rendering courtesy of Activating Jacksonville’s Riverfront
rendering courtesy of Activating Jacksonville’s Riverfront

Riverfront Parks Now (RPN) endorses Jessie Ball duPont Fund’s recently unveiled Esplanade Plan for the publicly owned Shipyards and Metropolitan Park lands.

“We’re encouraging the community rally behind this public space plan and the corresponding social, cultural and urban planning principles,” said Nancy Powell, chair of the RPN Steering Committee. “The Esplanade Plan aligns with our vision and benefits our community with activated riverfront spaces that will attract people downtown and provide access and enjoyment, but also will reduce flooding damage, connect to the Emerald Trail and attract business investment.”

The Esplanade Plan was developed by international design firms DVDL and WXY in conjunction with the duPont Fund and the Downtown Investment Authority (DIA). It is in response to the preliminary results of the duPont Fund’s community engagement process that included benchmarking research, surveys, community meetings and lengthy discussions with local experts and key stakeholders.

The plan includes 49.5 acres of public parkland and reimagines Metropolitan Park and the Shipyards as one active park along the river with wide-open greens, unobstructed river views, kayak ramps, walking piers, splash zones, spaces dedicated to boutique retail, dining, and more. The Esplanade Plan also incorporates the relocation of MOSH and a luxury hotel proposed by Jaguars owner Shad Khan, as well as the Orleck Naval Ship Museum.

“This is not yet a final park design, and the amenities and features will be developed with further public input,” said Powell, “But first we need the park boundaries to be delineated so that the city and collaborating entities can plan in a holistic way and with a phased approach. The duPont Fund has shown here that it’s possible to provide ample space for play areas, cafes and bars, native plants, and cultural activities as well as space to host large events, festivals, and Jaguar celebrations, too.”

Riverfront Parks Now is a citizen-led initiative consisting of representatives from non-profit organizations including the American Institute of Architects – Jacksonville Chapter, Duval Audubon Society, ElderSource, First Coast Freethought Society, Garden Club of Jacksonville, Greenscape, Ixia Chapter – Florida Native Plant Society, Jacksonville Urban League, Late Bloomers Garden Club, League of Women Voters, Memorial Park Association, Scenic Jacksonville, Sierra Club of Northeast Florida, and the St. Johns Riverkeeper.

The Jessie Ball duPont Fund convened a series of conversations about how best to activate the city’s downtown waterfront for the benefit of all of residents and visitors. Project partners included DVDL, an agency of cultural forecasters working with cultural institutions and public spaces around the country, leading the project and development of the activation plan; Groundwork Jacksonville, leading the community engagement work in their capacity as the city’s nonprofit trust dedicated to creating a more walkable, liveable community; WXY, a New York-based design and planning firm; and JLP+D, a funding strategy and development firm.

By Karen Rieley
Resident Community News

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