Saturday, May 9, 2009

Once they're gone, they're gone

First off, let me begin by thanking everyone who came out to the Thursday night show...and even those who meant to make it, but ran out of time. The show went really well, and except for me getting a little tipsy and spilling my drink, I also managed to hold it together, and (I think) talk articulately about the new work...where it's coming from and how I hope to proceed.

However, this isn't meant to be a lauditory post to stroke my ego, I want to bring the issue of proposed neighborhood destruction to your attention (especially if you live in Riverside. My friend David White (who is also a realtor with integrity) forwarded the following link to me. Here's an excerpt:

"Riverside may lose the last remnants of the historic Riverside Clinic and Riverside Hospital if a local developer follows through on plans for a drive-through pharmacy.

That has preservationists upset, especially because they say they were not made aware of the project.

"I can wholeheartedly say there's no way we would support the demolition of those buildings," said Carmen Godwin, executive director of the nonprofit Riverside Avondale Preservation Inc. "It would be a devastating loss."

In March, the city issued a concurrency statement to Renaissance at Riverside Inc. saying that the city's infrastructure, such as utilities and traffic, would be able to handle the developer's proposal to build a pharmacy after demolishing a historic office building and nearby house.

The two properties - the Jelks Building, a three-story, tan brick building; and a two-story Prairie School brick house on Margaret Street - are across the street from Memorial Park next to the Villas of St. Johns apartment complex, and across Riverside Avenue from the Publix-anchored Riverside Market Square."

Read the rest here, including how the developer received incentives from the city, and tried to sneak this through without RAP's knowledge.

Here's a link to City Council, and as soon as I find out the person/people to whom one should direct ire, I'll post that info here.

I will also post pictures of the property later.


JONATHAN said...

Ok, I should be upset about this, but i'm not. here's my thoughts.

Is the uproar due to the actual demolition proposed or the sneakiness on the part of the developer? If golf, fishing, football, or old time religion aren't for you, you must at least be capable of embracing Jacksonville's heritage of sneakiness. This is a city that regularly begs forgiveness instead of asking permission. I thought it must be written somewhere in the city's charter. We are sneaky. No story there. Accept this dummy got caught. That does make things more colorful (media wise).

On to the issue of the demo.

The statement in the article that the pharmacy would do well in that location is probably true, but only because of all the demographic changes at that intersection in the last 5-6 years. Changes that were approved by the same resident associations and preservationist groups that are upset about this sneaky developer. If the (historic) riverside hospital property, Taylor Hardwick's (historic)1661 medical building and (whatever used to occupy the "villas" property) were allowed to be demolished and redeveloped in a manner that greatly increased the area's population, traffic, and need to have access to conveniently located commercial spaces (wouldn't you like a starbucks, a grocery store, a delicious bagel shop, and a pharmacy near your brand new home in historic riverside?), this seems like just the next (logical) step in a pattern has been going on for years, with the tacit approval of the recently offended. "In for a penny, in for a pound" after all.
I hate writing this shit, but most of us (and I include myself in "us", for I truly wept at the loss of the original 1661, but as time has past, the pain has become more remote. I'm drinking a latte from the riverside starbucks as I type this) deserve this scenario, far more than we do the buildings that are threatened. Perhaps if a few dozen more fall our kids will get the f*cking message and make preservation as a real priority.


JONATHAN said...

Never mind my post. I guess I just had a lousy day.


madeleine said...


Yo make some really good points, I guess my position on it is that although I was truly sad to see Taylor's medical building go, it seemed inevitable as the building was too small to reuse as a multi-use space...however, the Jelks building is certainly large enough to house a pharmacy, and as for the issue of drive-through, I think it runs counter to the goals of the Riverside community...

However, Jacksonville as a culture of sneakiness...brilliant!

JONATHAN said...

On a very basic level, I think the 1661 building was doomed by a sort of generation gap. I spoke with many local residents (mid 50s +) prior to it's demolition who just didn't like it visually. To me it seemed that the generation who grow up with it, but were older than it, viewed it as (stylistically) an unwanted anomaly. Those born after it was built accepted it as part of the cannon of local sites, after all, it had alway been there (from their pov). I also heard many (unsolicited) views from younger folks (late 30's, five points, entrepreneurial types) who admired it's spirt and fantasized about being involved in the building's future by planting some small businesses inside it. I'd have to review the floor-plan, but I don't agree that it was necessarily too small to be reused as a multi purpose space. It had 3 to 4 times the parking of the present site, something anyone who ever has tried to use the UPS store or get groceries would probably appreciate. I think for a urban planner, dreaming on a more modest scale, the old 1661 would have been quite suitable for something.

On a side note the company that built the original, also tore it down, and also built the current building on the site, then went bankrupt.
r.i.p. Autcher co.