Jacksonville’s historic Brooklyn neighborhood, located just southwest of downtown, is well on its way to becoming a vibrant mixed use community with a combined 600 new apartments, 76,000 square feet of retail space and a public/private park. Once complete, the neighborhood’s redevelopment will represent over a decade of cooperative planning between the City of Jacksonville, utility providers, and 3 separate developers.
Over this period, ETM has remained the sole civil engineer contracted for all stages of the redevelopment. Their role in providing professional engineering services includes: master planning surveying, engineering design, utility reconstruction, permitting and Construction Engineering & Inspection (CEI).
A Historic Neighborhood in Decay
Between 1950 and 2010, the Brooklyn neighborhood saw a rapid population decline. Census records in 2010 reported that only 60 people lived in the 16 block area that had been home to over 6,000 in the 50’s. The decline left much of the land untended, the public infrastructure in decay and rows of condemned homes.
For decades, the City sought to redevelop the neighborhood. Its proximity to downtown, the lower St Johns River and the amenities of Riverside Avenue made it an ideal location for a mixed use community built to serve a generation who value pedestrian friendly and urban convenience community living. Through public and private partnerships, the City began planning the redevelopment in 2005.
$20 Million Redevelopment Program
The City of Jacksonville selected ETM to be part of a private development and design team to create a redevelopment program that would prepare the land and civil infrastructure for development.
ETM’s role in the program included development design, permit applications and construction management for:
- Master stormwater facilities
- Flood control improvements
- Water quality retrofit
- Roadway improvements
- Full utility reconstruction for water, sewer, electric, gas and communication
Designing Roadway Improvements
The roadways in the Brooklyn area and the utilities beneath them required major improvements to support the volume of planned living and retail space.
ETM was initially contracted in 2007 by Hallmark Partners for the first phase of the program to survey, design and manage the construction for Magnolia Street from Forest Street to Dora Street to include the master stormwater pond that would become one of the unique amenities of the area as part of Unity Plaza.
ETM was contracted by the City in 2010 to provide survey, design and prepare the preliminary design for Phase 1B which included Magnolia Street between Jackson Street and Dora Street and Jackson Street from Riverside Avenue to Magnolia Street. The City also asked ETM to manage the construction of this phase of the program
Regency Centers, developer for Pope & Land Jax Riverside, LP contracted ETM in 2011 to survey, design and prepare the design-build criteria package for Phase III that included portions of Magnolia Street between Jackson Street and Stonewall Street.
A second phase was the reconstruction of Stonewall Street between Riverside Avenue and the newly reconstructed Magnolia Street. This involved raising the ground level 7 feet in order to even out the roadway.
Each reconstruction phase included many needed infrastructure additions including up sizing utilities and designing stormwater collection systems.
Orchestrating Ash Remediation
Between 1910 and 1960, the City of Jacksonville's municipal trash incinerators created ash residual which was deposited as fill material throughout Jacksonville. One of their incinerators was located on Forest Street making the Brooklyn neighborhood a deposit site for some of the contaminated ash. Over the years, houses and roads were constructed over the fill material, covering up but not removing it.
During the redevelopment of Brooklyn, ETM orchestrated ash remediation for the appropriate development areas. This included digging up shallow contaminated dirt and replacing it with proper soil or other measures. While ash remediation wasn't a large part of the project, it was an important part which treated the long-time contaminated soil and served to protect future residents from any harmful byproducts.
Planning Unity Plaza
Widely seen as the future site of “Jacksonville’s own central park,” Unity Plaza’s mission statement is: “A life-enriching urban park; uplifting, educating, entertaining and electrifying our community.” Siting at the corner of Forest Street and Riverside Avenue, the 2.5 acre plaza contains a lake and flowing fountain. When the development is complete, an amphitheater will provide daily events for a community gathering place.
To support both present and future development, ETM was contracted by Jacksonville Unity Plaza Inc., the non-profit hired to oversee the property. This $3 million project included civil design, permitting, coordinating with the City, JEA, the Developer, and Construction Engineering and Inspection (CEI).
One of the unique aspects of Unity Plaza’s beautiful pond is its functionality as a master stormwater pond which collects and treats nearly all stormwater from the Brooklyn neighborhood, from McCoy’s Creek down to Forest Street.
The pond’s dual purpose was designed by ETM during the master planning stages to address the growing concerns with the amount and quality of water that would drain into McCoy’s Creek (located on the north end of the site) and the lower St Johns River.
The solution was to redirect the drainage through a 66” pipe, which spanned the neighborhood, and deposit the water into the stormwater pond. Because Brooklyn is a historic district that predates today’s modern design and treatment standards, much of the area historically had stormwater runoff that discharged to surface waters without first being treated to remove pollutants that cause adverse impacts to receiving waters. The redevelopment and redirection of the water provides additional treatment to urban runoff that was not previously treated.
Designing & Permitting Brooklyn Station's 58,000 sq. ft. of Retail
Brooklyn Station sits adjacent to 220 Riverside between Jackson Street and Stonewall Street on heavily travelled Riverside Avenue. The Station is 58,000 square feet of retail space. Fresh Market is an anchor tenant with neighborhood shops such as, Corner Bakery, Burger Fi, Hippo, and others.
Fuqua Development, LP, the master developer, contracted ETM to provide various engineering services. These services included: preliminary site planning, City of Jacksonville Planning Department submittal, concurrency application, final geometry plan, landscape design, final site/civil engineering plans, permit coordination and contract administration.