Jax launches revamped Southbank Riverwalk, announces new event venue

2015-02-26 12.37.35

As Jacksonville officials met Thursday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the newly renovated Southbank Riverwalk, they also unveiled a new project designed to bring more events downtown.

Built in 1985, the original wooden Riverwalk had fallen into disrepair. The $17 million project replaced the structure with a multi-colored concrete path stretching 4,000 feet.

Approved by the City Council in 2010, construction delayed due to funding and design issues. When work finally started, it finished within 18 months.

Mayor Alvin Brown hailed the upgraded Riverwalk as a great asset to the city that will encourage more people to visit downtown Jacksonville. “Our river is the heart and soul of our community,” he said. “The new Riverwalk will bring people together to highlight that treasured asset.”

City Councilman Don Redman donned his biking gear, becoming the first to pedal down the new span. In 2009, Redman famously fell and suffered a severely broken femur on Thanksgiving morning while bike riding on the old walkway. At that time, the council was busy debating the bill approving the restoration.

On Thursday, Redman said he wanted to finish the ride.

Riverwalk will now include artwork along its span, beginning with a mirrored mural of the St. Johns River under the Main Street Bridge.

Also announced Thursday morning, another venture that plans a floating venue called “The Barge,” for hosting various events on either side of the river.

Developers expect “The Barge” to bring addition events to the downtown area. The first will be Friday, June 5 at Friendship Park with a “Beer, Bourbon and Bacon” celebration. Another is planned across the river near Metropolitan Park for later in the year.

Longtime downtown advocates Dawn and Al Emerick are launching the venture. Al Emerick said their plans include statewide, national and regional events highlighting the St. Johns River.

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Kevin Meerschaert


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