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May. 10, 2013

Public-Private Partnership to Add ‘Central Park’ to Brooklyn, Jacksonville Development

By Georgiana Mihaila, Associate Editor

A public-private partnership is looking to bring a signature park to historic Brooklyn. Mayor Alvin Brown and Jen Jones—executive director of Jacksonville Unity Plaza Inc.—accepted the deed to the premiere ‘central park’ for Jacksonville at the construction site of 220 Riverside, a mixed-use development aiming to revive Brooklyn.

Jacksonville Unity Plaza Inc., the non-profit that will manage Unity Plaza, promises to deliver a new entertainment hub that will host events year round. Developers have projected a plaza with a fountain, a lake and a staging area flanked by an amphitheater able to accommodate 2,000.

The Unity Plaza concept is the vision of Alex Coley, principal and co-founder of Hallmark Partners, currently developing the adjacent 220 Riverside mixed-use project. The public-private partnership is part of a redevelopment agreement that obligates the private developers of 220 Riverside to donate the Unity Plaza property, establish the 501(c)(3) non-profit and fund the basic operations of the non-profit entity that will manage the property as a community ‘central park.’

“We have said all along that the 220 Riverside is actually a community service project disguised as a real estate deal,” said Coley, who presented the deed to the Mayor and Jones. “Unity Plaza will host and nurture the diversity and spirit of our community while revitalizing downtown and fulfilling our mission of place-making.”

Unity Plaza is the cornerstone in the current redevelopment of Jacksonville’s Brooklyn neighborhood. It is located at the corner of Riverside Avenue and Forest Street, adjacent to the 220 Riverside project featuring 294 market rate apartments and 18,000 square feet of retail. The Unity Plaza project development team is led by Hallmark Partners Inc., and Jacksonville-based Studio 9 Architecture is leading the park’s design. Programming in development includes seasonal events, concerts, educational programming and unique activities that utilize the nearby St. Johns River.

Image courtesy of Hallmark Partners