When the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) began engaging community, civic and business groups about plans to build the Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center (JRTC) at LaVilla, we learned that preserving the neighborhood’s history while infusing it with new development and amenities was as much a priority for them as it was for the JTA.
After holding dozens of community meetings to hear the public’s ideas about historical landmarks and elements they wanted preserved in LaVilla the JTA:
- Formally incorporated “LaVilla” into the JRTC’s name. Hence, the Jacksonville Transportation Center at LaVilla will forever be recognized as a public and community driven alliance.
- Named its first-floor conference room “The LaVilla Room” where a wall -mounted exhibit of the history of the community is featured.
- Partnered with the Downtown Investment Authority to create the LaVilla Development Strategy, a plan that includes creating a park and trail that connects LaVilla to the St. Johns River and building more than 300 units of workforce and senior housing.
- Engaged Jones Worley Design, a national experiential design firm, to document and illustrate the Jacksonville regional transportation story through the lens of the LaVilla labors, residents and families who helped build the transportation network. The firm consulted Jacksonville historians to gain an understanding about the leaders of the early Civil Rights movement, business, music, art and culture.
The strategic approach to the storytelling entailed the development of seven themes that begin with the indigenous settlements at the mouth of the St. Johns River to Jacksonville becoming the City of Bridges we know today. Key people, places and events are acknowledged throughout the story, that comes together in a dynamic narrative of both the birth and rebirth of the community and its long-fought struggle to live up to its potential.
For generations to come, the story of LaVilla’s historically diverse people will be seen on the interior and exterior of the JRTC at LaVilla in small and life-size installations that include:
- 25 Custom wall murals
- 21 history plaques
- A second floor breezeway historical timeline exhibit highlighting LaVilla
- The LaVilla Room wall -mounted exhibit featuring the community’s history
- A Boardroom wall-mounted historical timeline exhibit highlighting LaVilla and;
- A Time Capsule bottle with LaVilla content
To support the local arts community, the JRTC at LaVilla features rotating art from more than 60 of Northeast Florida’s most innovative and talented artists.
The initiatives the JTA undertook to preserve LaVilla’s history, the placemaking the JRTC at LaVilla anchors in the community and the mobility options available at the facility will help build neighborhood pride and excitement about what it means to the area’s rebirth. The initiatives will leave a lasting legacy to ensure that the role LaVilla played in Jacksonville’s development will never be forgotten.