Torti Gallas + Partners is working with Cathedral District-JAX, Inc. to develop a vision for neighborhood revitalization and a roadmap for implementation for Jacksonville’s Cathedral District. The Cathedral District was once a thriving downtown residential neighborhood with five churches that were the centers of community life. While the Cathedral District has many remaining architectural masterpieces – from religious and civic buildings to commercial buildings and houses – this once-vibrant neighborhood has experienced disinvestment and significant population loss where parking lots now predominate.  On June 14, 2016 St. John’s Cathedral sponsored a Neighborhood Ecumenical meeting that included Mount Zion A.M.E. Church, Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, First United Methodist Church, St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral, and the First Presbyterian Church to discuss the condition of the neighborhood, their individual needs, and their overlapping missions. An ecumenical vision for redevelopment has emerged with the following goals:

·       To bring diverse denominations together to work towards the common goal of neighborhood revitalization

·       To revitalize the Cathedral District so that it becomes a desirable place to live

·       To provide opportunities for congregants to not only serve in this neighborhood, but also to live there

·       To create a safe and pleasant environment

Following the Ecumenical Meeting, Cathedral District-JAX, Inc. (a 501c3 corporation) was formed to further pursue these shared goals. After reaching out and speaking with members of the community (residents, churches, property owners, developers, elected officials, and the Downtown Investment Authority), a Vision and Master Plan has emerged that leverages the many strengths of the district and is organized around 7-Key ideas:

·       Create a residential core, returning people and life to the District

·       Make improved connections to surrounding neighborhoods and existing resources

·       Bring a mix of uses, including neighborhood-serving retail

·       Create safe, friendly, walkable, and bikeable streets

·       Add open space/parks

·       Attract a charter school

·       Develop a district parking strategy to make infill development possible

The vision can be summarized in the following statement, “The Cathedral District is a leafy downtown historic neighborhood where you can live, work, learn, play, serve, and pray together with your neighbors.”  The vision has been developed to be implementation-oriented where the proposed projects can be realistically developed by the Churches, land owners, and private developers with the City assisting with community improvements.

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