5 Reasons to Live in Jacksonville's Historic Neighborhoods
by Bloom Realty
on Thursday, June 1st, 2017 at 1:00am.
By: Heather Benfield
At Bloom Realty, we love Jacksonville's historic neighborhoods, and all of the features that make them unique places to live. All of these areas lend themselves to the vibrancy of Jacksonville community, and we've complied a list of reasons to live in these neighborhoods.
Generally speaking, residents of Jacksonville’s urban core historic districts are a passionate bunch. You’re sure to find an array of interests and causes that your neighbors support. Just about every weekend you can find an event in these neighborhoods that benefits an area non-profit, and is focused on increasing neighbor interaction, or that supports an idea of community involvement.
“I've lived in Riverside for more than 20 years,” owner of European Street Café Andy Zarka said. “And the Riverside location of European Street has been open even longer. As a resident and business owner, I appreciate the neighborhood for the same reasons: its diversity of its people, places and vibe, as well as the sense of community between residents and business owners. Living in Riverside is like having one big extended family.”
With a mix of rental properties and family homes, you’ll be able to enjoy neighbors at various stages in their lives, adding to the vibrancy of the community.
“The Springfield neighborhood attracts a wide range of people, young professionals, families, retirees, students, artists, military, etc.” Bill Hoff, SPAR volunteer shared. ”That's one of the best things about the community, it's open and welcoming to all. The aesthetic detail, diversity and unique character of each home is what often initially draws people to the Springfield Historic District, but the the rich diversity and character of residents is why people stay.”
Walking around your neighborhood is a fantastic way to be involved in your community. Some families are able to have one-car households due to the variety of life necessities that are within walking and biking distance. The level of walkability varies within each historic district, but the mix of residential and commercial makes it more feasible than some suburbs. According to Walkscore.com, living in a walkable neighborhood “offers surprising benefits to our health, the environment, our finances, and our communities” (read more about these benefits here.)
“When I opened my business in 2007, my hope was, and is, to be a part of a community where I can make a difference,” Daniel Miller of Brightway Insurance shared. “I love the feeling of walking to pick up my prescriptions at Owens, grocery shopping at Grassroots, and having date nights all over the historic area. I love the mix-use, multi-generational, multi-cultural, multi-use buildings. We have 5th Ave shopping with a beatnik culture waiting to explode. Living and working in our Historic district is the best of what Jacksonville has to offer!”
Older homes in Jacksonville’s historic districts come in a plethora of styles. If you’re looking for a unique home, be sure to search in these areas first.
“Our historic neighborhoods are a reflection of our community and the value we place on them,” former Riverside Avondale Preservation executive director Adrienne Burke said. “When historic homes are lovingly restored and showcase their unique beauty, the neighborhood shines. And the more we support our local businesses, the better they will do. The better businesses do, the more our historic commercial structures will get some love and attention to keep telling the story of our neighborhood over time. This all creates a dynamic and unique place in which to live, work, play and visit that can't be matched by anything new.”
Dining and Libations
With an ever-expanding food and drink scene, Jacksonville’s historic districts provide an ideal backdrop for culinary creations.
"When our group purchased Bistro Aix in 2014, we were thrilled to become part of the San Marco dining community," president of Forking Amazing Restaurants Matt Mannick said. "San Marco is a historically significant neighborhood in Jacksonville, and with good reason; it's walkable, full of independent shops and restaurants, and just a few blocks from the river. We love knowing that our restaurant contributes to the diverse dining scene, small business community, and quality of life for San Marco residents and visitors alike."
Jacksonville’s breweries were born in Riverside, with Bold City starting the beer movement in town. You can find Aardwolf Brewing Company in San Marco, Bold City Brewery in Riverside, and Hyperion Brewing Company and Main & Six Brewing Company in Springfield.
“Jacksonville’s culinary scene has been on the rise the last few years, and you can watch that growth best in our urban core,” owner of Vicarious Events and pioneer for the Jacksonville culinary scene Cari Sanchez-Potter shared. “We’re a destination spot for craft beer lovers across the region, our restaurants are gaining attention from regional media, and residents have an array of options to choose from. I love the sense of community that you can find here. Our chefs, brewers, and restaurateurs want each other to succeed; as a rising tide raises all ships.”
Did you know that Jacksonville has the largest urban park system in the United States? The City of Jacksonville’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services manages over 400 park and recreational sites throughout the city. The historic areas of Jacksonville have parks of all sizes and offer something for everyone.
You’ll find dog parks in Springfield and Riverside Avondale; Boone Park South in Avondale has recently been upgraded to include Kompan playground equipment (fun for kids and adults!); as well as smaller parks like Native Park which offers visitors a chance to see plant life native to Florida. Riverside’s Memorial Park, dedicated in 1924, is one of the most photographed and popular spots in town. The Treaty Oak Park in San Marco gives residents and visitors a chance to absorb the wonders of nature amongst an urban background, with a magnificent oak tree that is estimated to be 250 years old.
Jacksonville's urban core neighborhoods can be locally designated historic districts, districts on the National Register of Historic Places, both, or neither.
Locally Designated Historic Districts: Riverside, Avondale, Springfield, and the St. Johns Quarter are all locally designated historic districts. Any exterior work requires an approved Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) application through the City of Jacksonville. (The neighborhood organizations RAP and SPAR do not process COA applications.) Learn more about the COA process.
National Register of Historic Places: The National Register designation is an honorary one, and does not regulate changes made to properties in historic districts (with the exception of demolitions, which must be reviewed by the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission). Riverside, Avondale, Riverside Annex, Springfield, and parts of Ortega are on the National Register.
Neighborhoods that don’t fall into either category: Neither Murray Hill or San Marco are designated locally or nationally. If a specific property was on the National Register (for historical or architectural reasons), then the above rules would apply for demolition.