Location: Uptown Kitchen & Bar (1303 N Main Street)
Time: 5:30 pm
Tim Hope, SPAR Board President, welcomed the approximate 50 guests, both in-person and online, to the meeting. He shared with attendees that there are a lot of ways to get involved with Springfield and SPAR: you can volunteer at an event, join a SPAR committee, donate to a SPAR program, and, also, share the positive changes that are occurring in the neighborhood with friends and family.
Tim introduced the candidates for the open Board positions. One candidate, Ben Alcorn, was presented for a first term. Soner Acar, Janie Coffey, Kelly Lezama, and Michael Montoya, were presented and seeking reelection for a second and final term. All candidates spoke briefly, sharing a little about themselves, and about why they wished to join the Board. Ballots were distributed, filled out, and collected, as well as tabulated via Facebook Live.
Tim Hope, member of the SPAR Governance Committee, announced that all new candidates were elected to serve their first term and all returning candidates were elected to their second and final term.
Tim introduced Evan Metz, founder of Alberi, who discussed the post-apocalyptic themed food hall that he soft-launched in November. The goal is to open as an everyday concept, but there will be sporadic events leading up to the Grand Opening. Evan has been taking feedback from the community to make the space more conducive to the neighborhood, including landscaping, fencing, gravel walkways and thoughtful design. Alberi is going through the City’s permitting process to be a permanent bar/restaurant and will be working alongside nonprofits, like SPAR, to find ways to serve the community.
Tim discussed the progress of moving back into the SPAR Building at 1321 North Main Street. SPAR is working with local construction company, Auld & White, whose work thus far can be seen on the tour immediately after the meeting. The lights on Main Street are going to be lit very soon and SPAR will be back on the block by the beginning of February 2021. Tim spoke about the conference room and that it’s not only a space for our organization, but the entire community.
Tim described the Building for the Future Capital Campaign to get SPAR back on to Main Street. The project cost is approximately $500,000 with approximately $220,000 raised thus far. SPAR needs everyone’s support because every single donation matters. This is the first time that SPAR has asked for donations specifically to benefit the organization, whereas SPAR typically asks for funds to benefit the neighborhood which are used for programming, amenities, or infrastructure upgrades.
Tim introduced Kelly Rich, SPAR Executive Director, who added more thoughts on why it’s imperative for SPAR to get back on Main Street. SPAR has had some history making years while in the temporary space on Walnut Street, and she can’t wait to show the community just what more can be done once SPAR is back in its home.
Kelly gave an update from SAMBA (Springfield Area Merchants and Business Association) and the Springfield Commercial Corridor. During the COVID19 Pandemic, SPAR chose to put its attention on the Historic Springfield Small Business community when business owners needed the most support. SPAR successfully launched the SPAR Boost Gift Card Campaign, where gift card values were boosted $10 or $25 (depending on the starting value) thanks to a donation from a generous neighbor. This initiative alone invested $7500 in our small businesses. Additionally, SPAR hosted some smaller promotions to honor local frontline workers with a free drink at Social Grounds Coffee and a free cookie at The Sweet Spot and Urban Lounge, as well as highlighted our local Black-owned SAMBA members in June. At the height of the pandemic, Springfield didn’t lose a single business, rather quite a few opened over the course of 2020.
Kelly informed that there are currently 77 members of SAMBA. Two spots are vacant on the Advisory Committee on Commercial Corridors. SAMBA meetings are free to visit and open to anyone in Springfield or those who want to do business in Springfield. SAMBA membership levels include two tiers for returning members (General at $100 and Executive at $250). New members of SAMBA can join at $50 for the first year with an Introductory membership. SAMBA works to invite quality speakers and include resources beneficial to small businesses. The next SAMBA meeting will be at The District on December 14th.
SAMBA sponsors two grant programs for its membership - the Quarterly Mini-Grant for members’ events and the Facade Grant. The SAMBA Mini-Grant helps offset costs for members’ events and programs. 2020 Mini-Grant recipients include The Sweet Spot and Urban Lounge, Simply Ke’say Boutique, and Sweet Christi’s and the 2020 Facade Grant recipients include Third & Main, The Coffey Team, Brick & Beam, and Collins & Son. SAMBA has doubled the budget for the Facade Grant for FY-2021 and has invested a total of $18,000 into the community since the inception of these grant programs.
Kelly shared an update about infrastructure work with both the City of Jacksonville and FDOT. Traffic Engineering is at the forefront of all parties to include residential traffic calming measures, such as painting bulb-outs on Hubbard Street, and reduction of the residential speed limit. Residents consistently ask for 4-way stops while that should be easy in theory, it’s not in reality. Conversations continue with Public Works in regard to the flooding on Silver Street, while the 4th Street brick project is out for bid and in progress. SPAR is working to have a more consistent schedule for Street Sweepers and to find the best way to notify residents of when they will be in the neighborhood, as the last time they came was on a trash pickup day. Kelly reminded residents to keep sending their pictures of flooding or other hazards to SPAR because they get forwarded onto COJ.
Kelly touched on progress on Main Street, the difficulties of progress due to it being a state road, and its jurisdiction belonging to FDOT. After three years of conversation, Main Street is projected for resurfacing in 2023. Tentatively, there is approval for the reopening of several intersections for left turns from Main Street from North or South onto side streets. Additionally, RFBs will be added at every crosswalk without traffic signals, travel lane width will be reduced from 12 feet to 10 feet, and parallel parking width will widen from 8 feet to 10 feet. These measures will help slow traffic down, give drivers a reason to stop, and protect pedestrians.
Greg Corcoran gave new information regarding the JEA Water Main Project. A JEA contractor is currently installing the 16” water main on 1st Street between Main Street and Market Street with the installation progressing east towards Ionia Street. Following the 16” water main installation, gravity sewer replacement work will occur on 1st Street between Main Street and Market Street. Larger 36” & 30” water main work will be starting on Main Street beginning in early 2021 and will require temporary closure and detour of Main Street. JEA will provide updates by email, but residents can reach out with questions via phone (904-665-7500) or email ([email protected]).
Tim Hope reminded residents that the previous work can’t be done without the SPAR membership base. Tim discussed PorchFest and all it has done for the neighborhood. He promoted “The PorchFest That Never Was” t-shirt, where 2020 event sponsors let SPAR use the t-shirt as a benefit for future PorchFest events.
Kelly presented a Year-In-Review of SPAR activities touching on a wide variety of on-going work, projects, and events in the community to include Community Clean Ups, Sheriff’s Watch and Off Duty Officer Program, Explore the Core bike socials, installation of StoryWalk, upgrades and repairs to surrounding parks, and the completion of the Klutho Corners trio of murals by local artist, David Nackashi. Despite facing a pandemic, there have been wins for SPAR during 2020, including the receipt of awards from the Jacksonville Business Journal and COJ Neighborhoods Department, continuation of Music on Main with social distancing protocols in place, alongside the consistent small business support.
Kelly reminded residents that Visit Jacksonville has partnered with SPAR to showcase the Holiday Lighted Tour via the Visit Jax app for a self-guided tour of homes. There are three Holiday events coming up over the next few weeks - December 11th is the SPAR Holiday Market at Sesquicentennial Park with 30 vendors, the Annual Holiday Bike Ride takes place on Dec 15th, and SPAR will be closing out the holiday season with Mama Blue at Music on Main on New Year’s Day, January 1st. The Ready 4 Veggies bus will also be back in action on Mondays from December 14th to January 11th.
Kelly thanked the Uptown Kitchen and Bar for hosting the meeting and for the refreshments.
The meeting was adjourned at 7 pm.