Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton has some 18 months left in is administration, and he is making plans to leave a legacy in transportation, among others.
Mayor John Peytom
“While some are already touting the end of the global recession, from where I sit it is difficult to believe,” he said.
Peyton added, “Our community still has many challenges with high unemployment and foreclosure rates. As mayor, I have a limited amount of time left in office, but I cannot sit idly by and hope that Jacksonville rebounds.”
He said it is his job “to lay the foundation for that recovery and I will do that by creating new job opportunities, improving our city’s quality of life and ensuring the safety of our citizens.”
Peyton was sworn in as Jacksonville’s Mayor on July 1, 2003, only the second Republican in 100 years to be elected to that office.
Earlier in the day he outlined his plans for Jacksonville’s post-recession recovery in a speech at Snyder Memorial Church on Laura Street in downtown Jacksonville.
Citing experts, Peyton said, “Convention centers do not work without a flagship hotel, a nearby entertainment district and a large exhibit space. Every year our convention center loses potential customers because our convention space doesn’t meet any of those three must-haves.”
The former Jacksonville Terminal on Water Street and adjacent to Florida East Coast Ry. tracks, now known as the Prime Osborn Convention Center, has been a failure he said, because it is too far removed from the other required elements.
Prime F. Osborn III
Prime F. Osborn, III, was board chairman at CSX when he retired. He played a key role in the merger of Atlantic Coast Line and Seaboard Air Line Railroads in 1967 to form Seaboard Coast Line, which later became CSX.
He added, “Successful convention centers are buttressed by 1,000-room hotels. The good news is we have one of those; it’s just not located next to our convention center. More good news, space next to the 1,000-room hotel on the river will become available with the completion of the new courthouse.”
Peyton said, “That is where our convention center should be – next to a large hotel showcasing our greatest natural asset with connectivity to the entertainment district along Bay Street.”
He recalled a former mayor when he said why the convention center was named.
“Mayor Jake Godbold was right to insist we renovate this iconic structure and name it after one of Jacksonville’s great business leaders. We must be flexible, however, for how we get the highest and best use of this facility. Our forefathers may have gotten it right the first time by unknowingly developing the first phase of a multi-model transportation hub. By moving the bus station off of Pearl Street, bringing Amtrak back into downtown and tying in the Skyway and future light and high-speed rail, that space can again be used as a regional transportation center.”