Community Meeting - February 2021

Date: 2/4/2021

Location: SPAR Office Virtual Meeting (1334-1 Walnut Street)

Time: 5:30 pm

Kelly Rich, SPAR Executive Director, welcomed the approximate 25 guests online to the meeting.

Kelly introduced Kristin Keen, Executive Director of Rethreaded, who will soon be moving to Historic Springfield at 9th and Ionia Streets. Rethreaded is a nonprofit whose mission is to renews hope, reignites dreams and releases potential for survivors of human trafficking locally and globally through business. They do this by providing survivors with long-term employment coupled with mental health care and care management. Rethreaded has been in the Railyard District for the past 9 years in a location with only 2600 square feet, and they employ 27 people. The retail, production, and administration branches for their organization have all been within that space with no room for them to grow.

Kristin announced that Rethreaded has officially closed on the building at 9th and Ionia streets and are officially moving to Springfield. The campus and it’s included buildings are about 36,000 square feet. Rethreaded will be using 20,000 square feet of the campus and renting out the additional space. This nearly quadruples Rethreaded’s capacity to hire and serve more survivors of human trafficking.Renovations are currently taking place with a soft move-in date of April 2021. Rethreaded plans to build out an industrial kitchen, running a third party logistics company, and expand their sewing production. The retail space will be expanded to 2800 square feet with business hours from 9 am to 5 pm.

Kristin expressed that when the Rethreaded team came to Springfield for the initial tour of the space, they were impressed by the welcome they received from the neighborhood with representatives of SPAR and members of the neighborhood in attendance. They still have funds to raise for the property and are creating a prayer and meditation garden for survivors. Members of the community can purchase a personalized brick to be added to this space for $125. The community can literally pave the way for Rethreaded to help more survivors of human trafficking to reclaim their lives. Rethreaded can’t wait to help change more lives with the Springfield community and bring restoration and hope to continue to rethread.

Kelly introduced Kay Ehas, Executive Director of Groundwork Jacksonville, who shared information on the Hogan’s Creek Restoration Project, McCoy’s Creek Project, as well as the Emerald Trail. Groundwork raised private funds to develop the Emerald Trail Master Plan, which the City Council adopted in 2019. They have a formal agreement with the City to oversee the design and construction of the 30+ mile Emerald Trail system. When it is complete, it will be a continuous trail connecting parks and includes the ecological restoration of Hogan’s and McCoy’s Creek. She shared an overview of the Model Trail Project through LaVilla and the progress expected through 2023.

Kay shared the work completed so far on the McCoy’s Creek Project, which shares the same goals as the Hogan’s Creek Project. Goals include a reduction in flooding, improvement of water quality, creating a habitat for fish and wildlife, creating access, and ecologically-sensitive recreation. She shared a timeline of what Groundwork hopes to see between now and 2023 - 30% Design to be completed by Groundwork between January 2021 and January 2022 and 100% Design by City of Jacksonville (via potential HUD grant) between 2022 and 2023. Once the design is done, there is a goal for construction between 2024 and 2026. Groundwork’s goal for completion of the entire Emerald Trail is 2026. Kay announced that Groundwork just received an HUD grant to continue Watershed Planning for both McCoy’s and Hogan’s Creeks. This will help Groundwork know what kind of green infrastructure to plant and where to plant it to help control stormwater runoff and water quality throughout the entire watershed. 

Kay described the concept plan and 30% Creek Design process. RFQs will be issued in the coming weeks to help Groundwork select a firm to consult on the project. Once a firm is chosen, Groundwork will establish a Hogans Creek taskforce, which will work with them and the consultant firm all through the design phase. Data will be collected, visioning with stakeholders will take place, and meetings with agencies and adjacent property owners to consider the feasibility of the project. All of the previous data will be taken to create alternatives to development and a cost benefit analysis which will be brought back to the community for feedback. Once that is complete, a preliminary design and basis of design report will be generated and shared with the community. 

Kelly announced the launch of the Joyce Holbrook Springfield Advocacy Award. Living in Historic Springfield for just over 50 years, Joyce Holbrook was a central influence in the revitalization of the neighborhood in the 1970's as a charter member of both SPAR and Springfield Neighborhood Housing Services. Joyce was central in the work to designate Springfield as a Historic District, and was fondly referred to by many as the “Mayor of Springfield.” Over her many years of community involvement, Joyce worked tirelessly to make the one-square mile of Historic Springfield what it is today. The Joyce Holbrook Springfield Advocacy Award will be presented to members of the Historic Springfield community who have proven their leadership, volunteerism, and a love for the neighborhood. SPAR worked with local artist, Ed Malesky, to create a beautifully carved wooden sculpture in the shape of the Prairie Cross, which is a well known symbol used in architecture designed by Henry Klutho. The Prairie Cross design is also incorporated into SPAR’s logo.

Kelly presented the recipient of the 2021 inaugural award - immediate Past President of the SPAR Board, Todd Hollinghead. Todd just completed his six-year tenure on the SPAR Board. Over his tenure, he has chaired multiple committees, volunteered countless hours of his time, and led the organization as President from 2018-2020. His influence and guidance for a myriad of projects in the neighborhood is immeasurable. 

Tim Hope discussed the progress of moving back into the SPAR Building at 1321 North Main Street and the Building for the Future Capital Campaign. The campaign has raised approximately $250,000 of the $500,000 goal. Every donation would greatly help SPAR move closer to the goal of covering the costs of the total restoration of the building. He showed pictures and blueprints of progress with the building so far, including the layout of the downstairs Community Collaboration Center, outside staircase to the 2nd floor, and the upstairs headquarters for SPAR. The outside of the board room is where the Prairie Cross glass etching, showing appreciation for donors, will be displayed. He shared that Nicole Hollinghead is working on the interior design work of the building to make the SPAR Building a home and welcoming space for the entire community.

Kelly introduced Janie Coffey, of The Coffey Team at Compass, to give an update of the real estate market within Historic Springfield. The market is up 39% average sold price over a year from January 2020. There has been a lot of new construction in 2020 and quite a number of sales that contributed to this percentage. COVID has played a role in creating demand by out of town buyers and keeping inventory tight. This, coupled with historically low interest rates (under 3%) are keeping Springfield in a slightly seller’s market with just around 3 months of inventory. 2020 saw quite a few homes sell over $400,000 and a few even over $500,000. The Springfield real estate market varies greatly from house to house, block to block, old or new, and everything in between. Make sure to work with a realtor who knows Historic Springfield.

Kelly gave an update from SAMBA (Springfield Area Merchants and Business Association) and the Springfield Commercial Corridor. She informed that there are currently 78 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 Hola Mexican Restaurant on February 8th.

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 $20,000 into the community since the inception of these grant programs.

Kelly shared an update about infrastructure work with the City of Jacksonville, JEA, and FDOT. Historic light poles will be installed on Main Street from 1st Street to State & Union Streets, so that there is one connecting line from Downtown to Springfield. Flooding issues at 7th and Silver Streets are in discussion with the City of Jacksonville with funds for this work moved up from the 5+ year of the CIP to the 1 to 2 year CIP. The West 4th Street Brick Project is confirmed to start within the month. COJ has been working with JEA to update the water and sewage on 4th Street as they do the work on the road itself. Kelly will be meeting with COJ officials to discuss the impact on residents and what to expect, including parking issues and possible inconveniences.

Kelly touched on the ongoing traffic engineering throughout the neighborhood. Street Sweepers are an ongoing conversation and have returned to the Southwest Quadrant this week. Residential traffic calming measures are already installed or in discussion. Bulbouts have been installed at the corners of East 3rd & Hubbard and East 7th & Hubbard. This is a visual “trick” used to slow down drivers on these roads and a reminder to slow down traffic on the residential streets. Approval has been gained to add artwork to both of these bulbouts later this year as crosswalks heading across 3rd Street. The process to install several bulbouts throughout the neighborhood is continuing. In addition, conversations continue to reduce the speed limit in the residential parts of Springfield from 30 mph to 25 mph. This would not include Main or 8th Streets. While it may seem slight, this will help JSO enforce the speed limit throughout the neighborhood.

Kelly discussed bicycle and pedestrian safety initiatives, which include repaving and restriping of two sections of the neighborhood to add bike lanes on Boulevard St from 7th Street to 19th Street and on 1st Street from Main Street to Palmetto Street. This will help make the neighborhood safer for cyclists and contribute to our overall BikeScore.     

Kelly touched on the progress of Main Street. 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. A new crosswalk will be added at Springfield Park to connect it and the walkway behind JEA. These measures will help slow traffic down, give drivers a reason to stop, and protect pedestrians. 

Kelly gave an update about the public parks throughout Historic Springfield. StoryWalk has been installed at Klutho Park in partnership with Jacksonville Public Library and has already been refreshed with a new book. Disc Golf has tournaments lined up, a Pickleball group has formed at the tennis courts, and more murals will be added via ArtRepublic on the Pearl Street and Boulevard overpasses in 2021. Murals are expected to start in the next month or so. Schell Park is finishing up construction while ADA additions and playground updates occur. Springfield Park’s updates are still at the committee stage. The Springfield Dog Park is being looked at for updates including amenities, artwork, and drainage.      

Kelly Rich announced that Sheriff Watch has commenced again as a virtual meeting. Sheriff’s Watch meets the 4th Tuesday of each month at 6 pm and attendees can find the ZOOM link within the Facebook event. SPAR’s Off Duty Officer Fund pays for officers to patrol the hot spots in the neighborhood during peak crime seasons. This is funded by community donations and you can set up a recurring or one-time payment through SPAR. 

Kelly reminded residents of the City of Jacksonville Free Tree Program. Historic Springfield residents have the option to request trees to be planted in the neighborhood. These are not trees for your personal property, but to be planted in the City Right of Way (CROW) and they are free. If you have space on the CROW in front of your residence, you can call 630-CITY or apply via the online portal to request a tree to be planted.⁠

Kelly celebrated that it is Sesquicentennial Park’s 2nd Anniversary with an announcement for Music on Main events starting in March of 2021. This will be the third year of hosting Music on Main events at SesQ Park. Mark your calendars for the upcoming dates: March 31st with The Band Be Easy, April 28th with the Honey Hounds, May 26th with Spice & the Poboys, and June 30th with DANKA.

Kelly discussed the Explore the Core bike initiative. SPAR coordinates 6+ bike rides all over the Urban Core, which host over 30+ riders of all ages and skill levels. Riders from all over the city and even some from out of state will attend these events. Bike Socials start in Historic Springfield, at the SPAR Building at 1321 North Main Street, and will ride from there to Riverside Arts Market, Downtown Art Walk, Jacksonville Shrimp games, the Railyard Breweries, Jacksonville Jaguar Games, and Evergreen Cemetery. Within the neighborhood, SPAR hosts the newest Springfield Bike-a-Boo, as well as the Holiday Bike Ride and Parade.

Kelly presented the calendar of events for the first quarter of the year. Events include the Bike Social to Riverside Arts Market on Feb 20th, Community Clean Up on Feb 20th and March 13th, St. Patrick’s Day Bar Crawl on March 13th, Speaker Series: Grow Your Own Food Panel on March 25th, and Music on Main: The Band Be Easy on March 31st. The Ready 4 Veggies bus will also be back in action on Mondays from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm in Sesquicentennial Park. Please keep up on our events calendar via the SPAR website. 

Kelly announced the return of the Home & Garden Tour, Historic Preservation Workshops, Speaker Series, and Jacksonville PorchFest. Social Distancing measures will be in place with the Home & Garden Tour having a heavier focus on gardens, rather than residences this year. Of the houses that will be included, there will be one entrance in and one entrance out. Details are still in the works and information on all of our programming will be provided soon.

Kelly reminded the crowd to continue to support SPAR and the many ways in which to do so. This includes becoming a SPAR member, joining a committee, volunteering at an event, donating to a project, and sharing about the positive things happening in SPR. Kelly asked all attendees to make sure that their SPAR membership is current. 2021 Key Tags have not arrived, but 2020 are still available. The key tags are how members can receive their benefits from the #SPARPerks program, where participating businesses give discounts to our local residents and members.

Kelly thanked all for attending the virtual meeting.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:15 pm.

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