Up and Coming Areas – The Emerald Trail

Much has been said and promised about the development of downtown Jacksonville and its surrounding neighborhoods. If you’ve lived in Jacksonville for any amount of time now, I am sure you’ve seen renderings of the wonderful buildings and entertainment venues coming to town. Only to have them fade away into nothing over time.

Well, I am here to tell you that there is a city-funded development that is happening! This development of parks, trails, and infrastructure around the neighborhoods surrounding downtown will truly be transformative and bring tremendous growth. This area is called the Emerald Trail.

Some people refer to these improvements as the Emerald Necklace as well. This is due to when you look at the proposed developments on a map the trails provide a sort of semi-circle wrapping downtown Jacksonville in green space.

In 2021, the City of Jacksonville approved $132 million in transportation and infrastructure improvements. This was for the development of a network of trails, green spaces, and community centers in the downtown area. When you envision this plan, think of the High Line in New York City, or the BeltLine in Atlanta. These trails will connect neighborhoods and at the same time provide entertainment, dining, and exercise options for residents. Completion of the system is expected by 2029.

All of this sounds great. But you may be asking, “What does this have to do with real estate?”

I am here to tell you that the areas connected to the Emerald Trail will see exponential growth once this plan is enacted. Look no further than Atlanta to see how the Belt Line has transformed neighborhoods and increased values.

So which areas will be affected? Review the map and I will discuss some of the key areas outside of the downtown core to keep an eye on:

  1. Springfield – Already nearing the end of its re-gentrification cycle Springfield has become a desirable neighborhood in Jacksonville with commercial activity growing rapidly along Main St. and nearby. This is the lynchpin neighborhood of the Emerald Trail as it is the center of the system and the area that has already undergone the most growth and redevelopment. I would expect Springfield to see continued value growth throughout this system’s growth but little new home construction.

  2. Eastside and Phoenix – I would look for this area to be the first in line to experience substantial growth with the development of the Emerald Trail. Connected to Springfield on the west and the sports district on the south this area will have a large leg up in growth before other areas. Its proximity to the entertainment centers of Main St. and Jaguars Stadium will make this area one of the first to see sustained foot traffic. This will result in commercial developments accompanying the houses being renovated.

  3. New Town and Durkeeville are somewhat constrained by their location on the west side of I-95. These areas will be slower to develop. You can expect to see some commercial and entertainment centers pop up in the Railyard district at the southern end of New Town. However, the main residential areas of this location will be limited due to a lack of amenities nearby.

  4. Mixon Town & Robinson’s Addition – Similarly constrained by being west of I-95 these areas are likely to see slow growth due to being west of the CSX railyards. These 2 physical obstacles will create a barrier to quick growth once the Emerald Trail is in place.

  5. LaVilla, Brooklyn, and Riverside – These areas have already begun their large-scale redevelopment. For LaVilla and Brooklyn, I would look for growth and development in the multi-family sector. With very few single-family residential lots available, growth in these areas will be more large-scale development oriented. For Riverside, I would expect continued value growth in the area and sustained re-gentrification of what is already one of Jacksonville’s finest historic neighborhoods.

Groundworks Jacksonville is spearheading the Emerald Trail. Read more about the Emerald Trail and further plans on their website: https://www.groundworkjacksonville.org/emerald-trail/