Scenic Visions a Huge Success

06 | 12 | 2024

OAI was pleased to partner with Scenic Jacksonville, the JAX Chamber Arlington Council, Greater Arlington Civic Council, and Jacksonville University to present the inaugural Scenic Visions program.

 A complement to Scenic Jacksonville’s Annual Great Cities Symposium, Scenic Visions was created to highlight neighborhoods outside of the urban core. According to Steve Matchett, OAI Executive Director, “We are thrilled that Arlington was selected as the first neighborhood to be showcased and plan to use this as a springboard to catalyze Arlington’s revitalization.”

Scenic Visions included a three-part series beginning with a guided water taxi tour of Arlington on April 6. Guests learned about the history of the river, plans for a rowing center on the Arlington River, saw the stately Mid-Century Modern homes along the bluffs of Monterey and learned about all the improvements being made at Blue Cypress Park. One of the highlights was a pod of dolphins frolicking alongside the boat.

 On April 20,  a sold-out trolley tour took riders from the new College Park through several Arlington neighborhoods to showcase the area’s unique architecture and character. Guests learned about plans for the former Jones College building, now owned by Ability Housing. They also visited the blighted trio of buildings along Arlington Expressway, formerly occupied by the FBI and Offshore Power Systems. All three buildings, including the former Jim’s Place are being redeveloped into an affordable housing community.

The tour included Kona Skate Park, the world’s oldest continuously operating skate park in the world —according to the Guinness Book of World Records, and Revitalize Arlington’s Dream Center in Woodland Acres. Other highlights included Anna Kingsley’s family gravesite in Clifton and a tour of historic Norman Studios. It was a wonderful day that generated lively discussion about Arlington’s assets and opportunities.

The final event of the series was a panel discussion at Jacksonville University on May 29. More than 100 civic and business leaders, community ambassadors and visionaries gathered to discuss the revitalization of Arlington.

City of Jacksonville Property Appraiser and former District 1 City Council representative Joyce Morgan facilitated the discussion with panelists Tim Cost, president of Jacksonville University, Rory Dubin, president of NEFAR, Trish Kapustka, president of JAX Chamber Arlington Council, Karen Nasrallah, redevelopment manager for the City of Jacksonville overseeing the Renew Arlington CRA and Steve Matchett.

The energy in the room was truly inspiring. Panelists shared the collaborations and work being done in Arlington by their respective organizations including progress being made on the CRA. Guests also heard from Council President Ron Salem about investments happening throughout Arlington and Rurmell McGee of Blackwater Developments LLC, the prospective buyer of Regency Square Mall. Alan Bliss, CEO of the Jacksonville History Center, challenged the group to consider the need to replace the aging Mathews Bridge which opened in 1953 and became the gateway to Arlington’s development.

According to Steve, “Scenic Jacksonville helped us to bring together so many organizations, stakeholders and influencers who all have a role in forging Arlington’s renaissance. I believe it is up to OAI to leverage the enthusiasm and goodwill that Scenic Visions has inspired thanks to Scenic Jacksonville and the other partners in this effort.”