Every month, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund and partners will share project updates and thought pieces related to the activation of Jacksonville’s Riverfront. Welcome to the first in this series!

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Jacksonville is blessed with acres of riverfront land downtown but lacks a comprehensive activation plan for programming this space for all types of activities and improving access for all residents and visitors.

The Jessie Ball duPont Fund is collaborating with DVDL, an agency of cultural forecasters; WXY, a New York-based design and planning firm; and Groundwork Jacksonville to create a Riverfront Activation Plan that benefits all residents and visitors.

This plan is not only for all residents and visitors but by all residents and communities here. As part of the project, we are engaging with stakeholders, involving Downtown and Urban Core communities, surveying the greater Jacksonville population, and holding public programs to imagine new activities and programs along and on the river. Dive into the conversation and learn how to get involved below!

Register today for our upcoming meetings and events!

  • Join the duPont Fund and DVDL for a virtual public meeting on Thursday, May 20 at 5:30 pm. Register to hear about the project plan and ways for you to get involved in the process.
  • Groundwork Jacksonville will host a Sunset River Walk on Sunday, May 23 at 5:30 p.m. Register to join the walking tour, open discussion and visioning exercise hosted at Intuition Ale Works.
  • Groundwork Jacksonville will host an Out East & Springfield Community Meeting on Wednesday, May 26 at 5:30 p.m. at In the Word International Church, 925 Spearing St. Register to attend.

Improving Health Equity through an Active Riverfront

Tune in to WJCT's "First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross" every first Tuesday of the month when guest speakers will join the conversation about public space, health, culture, sports, and the future of Jacksonville’s Riverfront.

On May 4, Ann-Marie Knight of UF Health and Gloria McNair of Groundwork Jacksonville discussed the benefits of an active riverfront in addressing health disparities in our community. Listen to the conversation and check out a few highlights:

Ann-Marie Knight
“As we think about parks and green space and having families walking, biking and being together on the river - that all contributes to the mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing - and their wellness. It is a respite from the stresses of everyday life.”
Gloria McNair
“Health equity is when everyone has the opportunity to be as healthy as possible. But that need is different for different communities, and we won’t understand the needs if we don’t talk to a variety of people. When we get together and make decisions together, there is ownership. And when there is ownership there is success, because people want to see it succeed when it’s for them.”

Riverfront Activation Boat Tours

Gloria McNair leading the first river taxi tour on May 8.

As part of its community engagement work for the Riverfront Activation initiative, Groundwork Jacksonville is hosting boat tours aboard the St. Johns River Taxi each Saturday in May.

Throughout the 90-minute tour, Groundwork helps guests envision what they would like to see and do along the downtown riverfront. “I ask them to close their eyes and tell me what they see,” said community engagement coordinator Gloria McNair. “Who are you with? What are you doing? How do you feel? These visioning exercises help people break through the limitations of what they see today and expand their expectations for what’s possible.”

View upcoming community events, including walking tours, boat tours, community meetings, and public events.

Project Partners

This project, undertaken by the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, is being led by DVDL, an agency of cultural forecasters working with cultural institutions and public spaces around the country, in collaboration with WXY Studio, a New York-based design and planning firm, and Groundwork Jacksonville, our city's nonprofit dedicated to creating a more walkable, livable community.

Project Goals and Timeline

The goal of the Activation Plan is to provide recommendations for programs, activities, and events to create a vibrant riverfront year-round.

Throughout the summer, the duPont Fund is helping to convene a series of conversations and events with stakeholders, community groups, and residents about how best to activate our city’s downtown riverfront for the benefit of all of our residents and visitors. The plan will be presented to the public in Fall 2021.

Written by
Melanie Cost Young