JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The fight over cash for downtown Jacksonville is over. Mayor Alvin Brown made a $9 million announcement Wednesday afternoon.
Downtown advocates have been pushing for years to make the core of the city bigger and better. Now, people at City Hall are putting their money where their mouth is to make it happen.
"This is the shot in the arm that we really need to take downtown to the next level," said Terry Lorince, Executive Director of Downtown Vision.
Growing her city's core has been her mission for 12 years. Lorince is proud to see the city make a pen-to-paper promise today to help her lead that charge.
"This is that needed investment. The money that we need to make this vision happen: filling the streets up with people, activating downtown," she told Action News.
It is a $9 million commitment to the city's new downtown reinvestment strategy. Plus $2 million will be channeled into a county-wide economic development trust fund to promote business opportunities. It's a move the city council auditor's office recommended being put on hold to see how funding shapes up for the rest of the fiscal year. But the mayor moved forward anyway, calling this a priority.
"In both instances, we are talking about using vital resources to leverage private investment," Brown said.
Lorince says you can already see that money working.
"We have about 600 residential units that are under construction, murals going up downtown, we have the One Spark festival, the fazz festival," said Lorince.
Mayor Brown says his signature is proof he is serious about taking downtown to the next level.
"This investment will have a tremendous return for the taxpayers," he said.
Everyone today agrees this money isn't the end-all, be-all. It just has to be the first step. City leaders say this is seed money to leverage other funding to really get them started on downtown development.