JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The city of Jacksonville is sitting on millions of dollars worth in vacant properties and buildings. The latest appointee to the Downtown Investment Authority says he has a plan to help pump new life into the area.
Michael Saylor is a city planner and civil engineer with 30 years of experience under his belt. City council president Bill Bishop appointed Saylor to the DIA on Tuesday. The full city council still has to approve Bishop’s appointment.
“It's a pretty big canvas and there's a lot of empty space on that canvas,” said Saylor.
Saylor owns and operates Black Dog Planning, Inc. His San Marco office is where he occasionally hangs his hat. The building was vacant for years. The once-abandoned school house is now a mix of commercial and residential living.
The city of Jacksonville is sitting on vacant or partially used property worth nearly $27 million. To change that, Saylor says his office/second home is an example of how the city can utilize existing infrastructure.
“We’ve got to do something about our deteriorating infrastructure in both buildings and municipal infrastructure,” said Saylor. “Walkability downtown is extremely important."
But, Saylor says, transforming out of a quote "daytime downtown" won't happen overnight.
“You know our city is probably like four to five times bigger than any other downtown in the United States. We're a couple of miles wide and a mile long north to south so you start spreading relatively few dollars over a longer area, it's hard to see progress."
Saylor says he also wants to see the area get fully "wired." He says expanding downtown's bandwidth capacity will help attract more IT companies.