Location: Wells Fargo Community Learning Center
The meeting began with Todd Hollinghead, SPAR Vice president, welcoming guests to the meeting, acknowledging Councilman Reggie Gaffney and other notable guests in attendance, and briefly touching on the agenda.
Christina Parrish Stone, SPAR Executive, began the agenda by reviewing notable activities in the last quarter of the year, including the monthly Second Sunday events being started, the public art dedication in Klutho Park, the 39th Annual Historic Springfield Tour of Homes, a variety of neighborhood clean ups and new businesses opening up in the neighborhood, including Social Ground Coffee, Hyperion Brewing Company, Southern Moss Realty, and Auntie Peaches.
Next, Scott Adeeb, who is in the process of purchasing the 9th & Main property from the City of Jacksonville, provided an update about this plans and the progress. The concept for the property will be a craft brewery / restaurant with a sports theme called Strings Sports Brewery. The process to purchase the property from COJ has been slow, but it’s on track. Preliminary open date is projected to be Spring/Summer of 2018.
Allison and Kurt D’ Aurizio, owners of My Grand Mothers pie and Provision Goods, then made an announcement that they have signed a lease to open a new eatery at 1715 N. Main Street called Flour & Fig Bakehouse, which would serve breakfast and lunch regularly, and dinner on weekends. The space is not built out yet, and they hope to open by this holiday season, 4-5 months from now.
Jamie Toraason, SPAR Commercial Corridors chair, spoke about the rejuvenation of the Springfield Area Merchants and Business Association (SAMBA) and the recent success of it’s Facade Grant program funded by SPAR. Three local business ownerss were awarded matching grants to improve their businesses facades thus far: Crispy’s, Main & 6th Brewing Company and Main & 1st, LLC. Additional grant money is available and applications for a second wave of awards is being reviewed now. SAMBA has grown from a dormant entity at the beginning of 2017 to 32 business members to date.
Christina Parrish Stone shared possibilities for commercial corridor upgrades and as part of the Mobility Works plan by JTA. Residents and stakeholders provided initial input for this plan about 18 months ago, which mostly pertains to Main Street, but also some of 8th Street. The plan calls for a traffic diet, bike lanes, added pedestrian crossings, added road cuts across medians, and other infrastructure improvements/ beautification. Possible angled parking along Main Street, as well. JTA has the funds available to implement this project now. However, since the Mobility Works planning first began, JTA also began planning for Skyway upgrade and expansion which may include parts of Main and 8th Streets. If it were to expland into Springfield, autonomous shuttle buses would drive in dedicated lanes where the Main Street and 8th Street medians are now, and some of the Mobility Works plans would be eliminated. The Skyway in Springfield would travel North on Main Street, turn Left on 8th Street until it reaches the UF Health complex. Further discussion will be had regarding these two possibilities, and construction disruption of Main Street, which may hurt a number of existing and planned businesses, will be taken into consideration.
A quick update regarding returning Main Street in Downtown, between State Street and Union Street, was given: FDOT estimates that it will become two way (it’s now one way heading out of Springfield only) in late June/July of 2017, so very soon. This would allow people traveling on Union Street to turn onto Main Street heading North into Springfield, and is seen as a significant positive for Main Street businesses, as Union Street is one of the busiest traffic corridors in the city.
Tim Hope, SPAR Board member and Sheriff’s Watch Chair, provided an update about SPAR’s Off-Duty Officer Fund restarting for the Summer again, including ways to donate and what the program is able to accomplish. Assistant Chief Jackson Short spoke about the effectiveness of the Off-Duty Officer program and answered questions from the audience. Sheriffs Watch meetings were also touched on, and emphasized as a way for the public to engage local JSO leadership about any questions or concerns they may have.
Kevin O’ Halloran, SPAR Community Engagement Coordinator, shared partial results from Infrastructure survey conducted several months ago. A list of seven stretches of sidewalks were distributed to all guests, and guests were asked to place a check next to the Top 3 segments you would like replaced or repaired. The list was compiled from residents feedback via from the online survey. Results from the Traffic survey were not discussed, as the aforementioned Mobility Works project may impact the surrounding area’s traffic, as well. Councilman Gaffney then stood up to speak his commitment to prioritize Springfield projects in the coming fiscal year, and made a commitment to fund the repairs of prioritized sidewalk segments identified by the community.
Jamiee Stewart, SPAR Governance Committee Chair, briefly spoke about how the organization was now accepting applications for committees and Board of Director seats. There are projected to be five open Board seats which may be filled at the September 21st, 2017 Annual Community Meeting, while there are many opportunities to participate in a committee.
Bill Hoff, Membership Committee Chair, mentioned how guests could become a SPAR member or renew their membership, and explained some of the benefits of being a SPAR Member.
Christina Parrish Stone touched on a few upcoming events in the neighborhood, including the 2017 Jacksonville Porchfest in November. The event will be larger this year, with about 30 bands on 30 porches on both the East and West side of Main Street, along with the evening concert in Klutho Park. There are still opportunities to sponsor the event, which draws about 10,000 guests from around the region. Other events touched on were the Great Race, happening this weekend, where classic cars from around the globe will line up on Main Street to begin a cross country race. SIAA is serving as the neighborhood liaison to the event organizers, and are hosting a move in the park tomorrow evening to celebrate. Also during the Great Race, SAMBA will be hosting a pop up park at the corner on E. 7th and Main Street on a vacant lot, seeking to activate the corner with positive activate during the event. The Annual July 4th Throwback Baseball Game is being sponsored by Vystar Credit Union and Servpro this year, and features the Eastside and Westside (of the Springfield Historic District) battling it out for the trophy and bragging rights. Food trucks and announcer will be on hand, as usual. Free and family friendly. The next two editins of Second Sundays were also highlighted, with a Americana them for July and the China Cat Sunflower Fesitival being the centerpiece of the August event.
Christina then moved on to the SPAR Historic Preservation Workshop series, beginning late Summer/Early Fall. The series will include workshops on the subject of Insuring Your Historic Home, New Guidelines for the COA process, Creating an Energy Efficient Historic Home, and Tips When Purchasing a Historic Home.
About 100 people attended the meeting, ending at 7:15pm.