Jacksonville — 10 things to know

From expanding port capacity to massive mixed-use developments, here's what you need to know about the advancing transformation of Florida's largest city 

Jacksonville continues making steady strides on nearly every economic measure. Its robust construction pipeline, strong job growth projection and connectivity characteristic of desired business hubs have created a real estate market that is favorable for investors as well as companies looking to locate or expand across the metro area. See the 10 things we’re tracking to help you execute the right strategy.

1. Jacksonville – it’s kind of a big deal

When most people think of Florida’s big cities, they generally name Miami first, but with 903,000 residents, Jacksonville is the largest city in Florida. The River City by the Sea stretches for 875 square miles, making it the biggest city in the contiguous United States by area, second in the nation only to Anchorage, Alaska.

2. A downtown in transformation

Downtown Jacksonville will unveil a major facelift, when three large-scale projects in the pipeline deliver. The Jaguars, owned by Shad Kahn, has begun planning a massive mixed-use development that will consist of 4.25 million square feet of commercial space and multifamily housing on eight acres surrounding TIAA Stadium. What’s more, planning has kicked off for the $600 million ‘The District’. Located in Southbank, this 32-acre riverside mixed-use development will add 200,000 square feet of office space, the largest planned office product in downtown since 501 Riverside delivered in 2007. Finally, Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA) will be transforming a vacant lot into a modern piece of architecture for its new headquarters at 325 W Adams. Expected to break ground this year, the building promises to add even more depth to the ascetics of downtown.

3. Port capacity to expand

After years of planning, funding, and environmental challenges, large-scale improvements are progressing at JAXPORT, which include deepening the shipping channel to 42 feet in order to accommodate Post-Panamax vessels. Additionally, JAXPORT is innovating to accommodate greener business practices, with four liquid natural gas (LNG) facilities on site providing fuel for Crowley Maritime Corp. and TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico, as well as the U.S. Coast Guard. JAXPORT leads the United States in vehicle exports, and the newly installed 100-gauge container cranes will encourage even more growth in JAXPORT’s container shipping business. All this bodes well for the future of industrial development in Jacksonville.

4. Jacksonville’s got connections

Home to 10 airports, Jacksonville sees almost 6.5 million passengers per year travel through Jacksonville International Airport, which offers direct flights to more than 40 destinations. The city also sits on Amtrak’s East Coast line that runs as far south as Miami and as far north as Canada. Additionally, downtown Jacksonville’s Network Access Point provides direct underwater fiberoptic connectivity to more than 40 countries, the third most in the Southeast. Jacksonville’s mobility and connectivity, characteristic of desirable business hubs, could help the city usher in next-gen developments.

5. Military at your service

Naval Air Station Jacksonville helps makes our city home to the third largest concentration of military personnel in the country. The station spans an astounding 1,500 acres and hosts one of the country’s longest runways. When you add Naval Station Mayport, the Marine Corps Blount Island Command and the Florida National Guard Headquarters, the military provides 94,886 jobs in Jacksonville, totaling a $10.9 billion impact on the local economy. Not to mention that Jacksonville is the only port in Florida authorized for military cargo. Talk about a strong economic driver.

6. Fore!

People flock from the around the world to Florida’s famous golf courses, and Jacksonville boasts some of the best greens in the state – 37 courses to be exact. The PGA TOUR Academy and the World Golf Hall of Fame lie just 30 minutes from downtown on a sprawling campus complete with restaurants and hotels. What’s more, each year the city hosts the PGA’s The Player’s Championship. Bring on the tourism.

7. Health care is big business

One of only three Mayo Clinics in the country calls Jacksonville home. Ranked the best hospital in Florida by U.S. News and World Report (2018-2019), the Mayo Clinic Jacksonville employs nearly 6,000 people. The highly-rated Ackerman Cancer Center and MD Anderson Cancer Center boast strong employment numbers as well. In all, healthcare, a fast-growing industry, makes up 9.2 percent of Jacksonville’s overall employment. That makes for a favorable climate for future job gains.

8. This round’s on us!

Anheuser-Busch has long been a staple in Jacksonville. Even better, the massive beverage company brews Jimmy Buffet’s Landshark Lager in the city. Despite the prowess of big-name brands, craft brewers have been giving rise to a budding industry. With 16 craft breweries located along the Ale Trail, including Engine 15 Brewing and Veterans United Craft Brewery, the beer scene is alive and well. Cheers to a hoppy economic influence.

9. Lights, camera, action!

Believe it or not, Jacksonville has been called America’s first ‘Hollywood’. In the early 1900’s, thanks to easy rail access, New Jersey movie-makers fleeing the cold flocked to Jacksonville, Florida for wintertime filmmaking. As a result, Jacksonville became the winter film capital of the world and grew to host more than 30 movie studios. This fertile ground called to visionary Joseph Engel, who opened Metro Pictures in Jacksonville in 1915. Now based in Hollywood, California, the firm still exists under its more commonly known name, MGM Studios.

10. Headquartered here

Jacksonville is headquarters for three Fortune 500 companies including CSX Corporation, which operates the ‘Juice Line’ that ferries fresh orange juice from the citrus state up to Jersey City, New Jersey, for distribution; Fidelity National Financial underwrites and provides title insurance; and FIS provides payment processing and banking software. What large corporation will headquarter here next?

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