Developer wants to turn vacant space into vibrant art center in North Springfield

A Jacksonville neighborhood some may have never seen or known about could become the city’s art center.

Developers are calling the 8.3-acre property the “Phoenix Arts and Innovation District” in North Springfield which is located north of downtown and the Eastside.

The abandoned warehouses and buildings are already a center for artists, but now, according to News4JAX’s news partners at the Jacksonville Daily Record, work is already underway to make the area much more than an artist neighborhood.

Some buildings are being purchased and plans are being put into place to add affordable housing to make the community an area for artists and all of Jacksonville.

The buildings along one part of North Springfield already tell a story. The murals and paintings from local artists show the talent in the area. But some signs also point to what is coming. 

Miami firm Future of Cities is working with investors who already own some of the buildings to turn the area into the Phoenix Arts and Innovation District.

Pat Thomas and Sabrina Baker already live in the area.

“It might change it and get a little better,” Thomas said.

The Miami company is proposing a mixed-use development and has filed a master plan with the city.  According to the Daily Record, it plans to turn the vacant spaces into affordable housing, a senior living complex along with markets and food trucks, in short, a place for artists to thrive. 

There could be a restaurant open by this summer, but the master plan calls for much more of an environmental community with solar energy and it would also tie into the city’s planned Emerald Trail parks.

Suzanne Pickett who heads up Historic Eastside said the plan would complement her area.

“So we are actually working with the team at Phoenix to assist, sort of the same things we’re doing to mitigate displacement of the residents, help repair houses, provide opportunities and entrepreneurship, assists with property taxes, and just assure that the residents are benefit beneficiaries of the project,” Pickett said. “I think it’s going to be a community. So when you think about the artist community or the creative class, it’s more than just visual artists, as musicians as architects, it could be teachers, so when you say artists or community for artists, it’s a vast array of opportunities for different genres.”

While the plan is filled with renderings, those involved said they are just ideas and it may not end up looking like that in the end.

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