Revitalizing the city center, art invades abandoned spaces | News

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Revitalizing the city center, art invades abandoned spaces

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Revitalizing the city center: It's a collaborative effort between city officials and local groups.

The Downtown Investment Authority is working on several projects to help with downtown revitalization.

And local artists are stepping up to do their part to improve the area.

The first of four exhibitions was revealed Wednesday night, made possible by a nearly $20,000 Spark Grant.

Artists say it's a way to improve abandoned spaces downtown, and the economic landscape.

Joy Leverette grew up in Jacksonville. She left the city as a young adult and now with just two years back in her hometown, she noticed some changes were needed.

"After having noticed there were a lot of empty spaces downtown, we want to do something about that," said Leverette.

While living in New York City, she saw that artists were helping to revitalize older abandoned neighborhoods. Leverette aimed to bring that concept to Jacksonville with "The Looking Lab: Art in Empty Storefronts."

"Downtown should be the mecca of arts and cultural entertainment," said Leverette.

Awarded a Spark Grant through the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville, she was able to make her dream a reality.

"We are so excited to see the community support and the financial backing of young energy and creativity in the community," said Ann Abercrombie.

The Jacksonville native said she's seen the changes to downtown and hopes it continues.

In the meantime, artists like Leverette plan to keep doing what they can to help revitalize Jacksonville's urban core.

The Downtown Investment Authority has approved $750,000 for a retail enhancement program. It's designed to recruit and retain restaurant, retail businesses, and office spaces downtown. It's awaiting council approval.


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