SOURCE: Visit Jacksonville

January 19, 2016 13:50 ET

What's New in Jax: Winter 2016

Roundup of All the Exciting New Happenings, Renovations, and Projects Coming to Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, FL--(Marketwired - January 19, 2016) - You don't have to write about the same old thing because Jacksonville is full of new projects this winter 2016. Not content with being the largest city by landmass in the U.S. and an exciting vacation and meetings and conventions destination, Jacksonville is growing and thriving as the place to be this year with new businesses, attractions and experiences becoming part of the landscape nearly every day.

When it comes to our hospitality scene, Jacksonville welcomes a new era as millions of dollars are spent modernizing and reimagining all major hotels in the city's urban core, and that's not all. New meeting venues, breweries, attractions and foodie hot-spots are getting ready to call Jacksonville home this 2016. Read on to find out "What's New in Jax" this winter (read online HERE):


  • RENOVATION: The Sheraton Jacksonville will be undergoing a $7 million renovation of the entire property. It should be completed in late 2016. On an interesting note, Chef Antonio who is at the Sheraton's restaurant Bold City Grill, came to Jacksonville from Gloria Estefan's restaurant in Miami.
  • RENOVATION: The Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront has a new look. The hotel's major renovation includes new river-inspired décor and corridors, additional meeting space, a new state-of-the-art rooftop fitness center, updated rooftop pool, a redesigned Regency Club Lounge and complete overhaul of the hotel's 961 guest rooms with new carpet, furniture, fixtures, wall covering and window treatments.
  • RENOVATION: The Omni Jacksonville just completed all of its room renovations as part of a $9 million overhaul of the Downtown Jacksonville hotel. The rooms now have new décor, beds, soft goods, in-room safes and Keurig coffee makers. The hotel also has a new club lounge, offering breakfast and evening services and currently the pool area is undergoing updates. This comes on the heels of upgrades to the Omni's restaurant Juliette's Bistro, making it modern and sleek with new furniture, flooring and Edison lightbulb fixtures and a complete renovation to the hotel's meetings space.
  • RENOVATION: The Embassy Suites Jacksonville-Baymeadows underwent a full $13 million renovation of guest suites and meeting space as well as a conversion for their new restaurant: Steakhouse at Embassy.
  • RENOVATIONS: The Lexington Hotel & Conference Center (formerly the Wyndham) is in the midst of major renovations that will transform the property including new guest room décor, reconfiguration of the lobby, new landscaping, an overhaul of the meeting rooms, a remodeled pool area and more. The hotel will retain a nautical theme, but will replace its current color scheme with blue, gray and white with organic accents. The work will take place in phases as the hotel will remain open during the overhaul. The renovations are projected to complete by the end of 2016 and are expected to total between $15 million and $20 million.


  • COMING SOON: The Barge Jax continues to work aggressively towards securing a permanent home offering approximately 6,000 square feet of outdoor event space available for rent. This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for special private and community events, weddings, business meetings, and more to take place surrounded by the iconic skyline views of Downtown Jacksonville while peacefully floating on the St. Johns River. Plans are evolving to provide potential opportunity on both the Southbank at Friendship Fountain as well as Jacksonville's Northbank.


  • COMING SOON: Hemming Park, Jacksonville's first city park, continues its series of renovations and new programming with a major overhaul to add a restaurant and bar, as well as a new stage area. The park will join in on the hot trend of recycling cargo containers by turning them into buildings for the new restaurant, which will be run by the owners of the popular Black Sheep Restaurant in Riverside and will be called the Black Sheep Kiosk. It is expected to open in early 2016. Planning is also underway to build the new 50x50 foot stage at the west end of the park, under the Skyway. The stage project will not break ground until after the annual One Spark crowdfunding festival concludes in April, with expected completion by the fall of 2016.


  • NEW: After completing major renovations including enhancing the stage and adding production areas, Maverick's, a popular country music club at the Jacksonville Landing, decided to capitalize on Downtown Jacksonville's growing live music scene by rebranding as Maverick's Live. More than just a name change, the venue will expand its focus to a variety of genres, though they will still be booking country music artists and bands. The 21,000 square foot building has a capacity of 1,500, which sets it apart from other Downtown music venues. Programming will include Fridays devoted to private events or shows and Saturdays featuring top 40 and dance music as well as Live on the River shows that will range from rock bands to hip hop and rap to reggae.
  • NEW: Velocity Air Sports is now open on Jacksonville's Southside. The 40,000 sq. ft. facility with a 25,000 sq. ft. indoor trampoline park and entertainment center features Olympic-size foam pits and a ninja warrior course.
  • NEW: MOCA Jacksonville has a new look, logo and website. The Downtown museum's new cutting-edge identity embodies the magnetic, transformational and colorful ideas behind it. Be sure to take a look at the new MOCA here.
  • COMING SOON: Jaguars owner Shad Khan plans to build a $30 million indoor facility near EverBank Field. The facility would serve as a practice field for the Jacksonville Jaguars, but there are plans to include other entertainment options for football fans and events on game weekends. Khan aims for a 2016 completion of the project.
  • COMING SOON: Slated to open summer 2016, Topgolf will be constructing a 65,000 sq. ft. golf entertainment center near the St. Johns Town Center. The facility will include a three-level driving range with 34 bays on each level where up to 10 people can gather and six can hit microchip embedded balls that keep score for you. Each bay will have food service, but there will also be three bars, a full-service restaurant and 230 TVs throughout the facility. The company has been looking at Jacksonville for years, which they deemed "the golf capital of the world," making it the perfect addition to the city landscape.
  • COMING SOON: Surfer the Bar will be taking over the space where FreeBird Live currently resides in Jacksonville Beach. The new bar will still feature live music, and have a family friendly atmosphere and feature a retail store on the ground floor.


  • NEW: The White Harvest Farmer's Market is now open. The new community urban farmer's market is an effort by the Clara White Mission in Northwest Jacksonville. There will be on-site farming grounds, and shoppers will be able to purchase fresh produce from White Harvest Farm as well as from local vendors. The 14 acre farm is managed by veterans and will also be an agricultural training site for local children, their parents and senior citizens in the community.
  • COMING SOON: Swedish furniture giant IKEA, plans to open a Jacksonville location by 2017. The new store will be located south of the St. Johns Town Center in a 294,000 sq. ft. building with 1,200 parking spaces.
  • NAIWBE Natural As I Wanna Be®, organic skincare products made right here in Jacksonville, is now a vendor with Sam's Club and began Roadshows in the state of Florida and Georgia. NAIWBE has also been selected to appear as a contestant on the CW's new show "HATCHED." Their episode will premiere on April 30th, 2016.


  • NEW: Sbraga & Company, the newest venture by celebrity chef Kevin Sbraga of Top Chef fame, is now open in Jacksonville's Brooklyn neighborhood in the new Unity Plaza. The menu is largely dedicated to showcasing the versatility of southern cuisine coupled with Sbraga's modern American culinary techniques. The restaurant featured a wood fire grill as a key component of the kitchen and the bar menu. Their bread program and raw bar draw their inspiration from Southern crops and grains.
  • NEW: Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant opened its first Jacksonville location at the St. Johns Town Center. The 13,200 sq. ft. restaurant is the third largest Cooper's Hawk nationwide and accommodates more than 335 guests, with indoor and outdoor seating as well as three large private event rooms. The modern, casual restaurant features a menu of unique dishes created to pair with the restaurant's own handcrafted wines. Cooper's Hawk has received more than 300 different wine awards from national and international wine competitions.
  • NEW: Spliff's Gastropub joined the ranks of the restaurants and venues that make up The Elbow entertainment district in Downtown Jax. This comfort food inspired restaurant opened in early November 2015. The restaurant is part of an expansion from the owners of the neighboring 1904 Music Hall. The 35-seat, 1,200 square foot restaurant features an outdoor beer garden with communal tables as well as a small stage for entertainment. The menu showcases unique comfort food style dishes like 20 different flavors of mac n cheese, baked chicken wings and a West Coast style tri-tip roast beef. The bar has a rotating selection of craft and local brews as well as international wines and sakes. Spliff's Gastropub is also available for private events and catering.
  • NEW: Jacksonville original Peterbrooke Chocolatier has opened a new location in Downtown Jacksonville, serving up sweet treats in the heart of the city! The new shop serves gelato, frozen yogurt, baked goods, dipped chocolates and coffee and the space is also open for events, private parties and fundraisers.
  • COMING SOON: A new restaurant from the owners of the popular new Downtown Jacksonville restaurant the Candy Apple Café and Cocktails is coming to Unity Plaza. HOBNOB plans to open this winter 2016. The menu blends "global inspirations with local intentions to create an eclectic mix of shareable appetizers and entrees." The restaurant will have special events like a restaurant-wide champagne toast every Friday evening.
  • COMING SOON: One of Jacksonville's most popular lunch spots and a veritable culinary institution, The French Pantry, will be opening a second location complete with bar, brunch and dinner service. They are looking in Riverside for their second location and project that doors will open within two years.
  • COMING SOON: Exciting news for burrito lovers, soon you will be able to get one of Jacksonville's best burritos at one of three different locations! In addition to their new location in Brooklyn Station (slated to open January 2016), Burrito Gallery will be opening a new full restaurant in Jacksonville Beach that is expected to open in Spring 2016. The two new locations will have a similar new design, though only the Brooklyn location will feature a rooftop bar.


  • COMING SOON: Another new brewery is on the horizon for Jacksonville's flourishing craft beer scene; Hyperion Brewing Company is the latest upcoming addition to the Jax Ale Trail. The brewery plans on focusing on having a variety of beers on tap, with something new to try on every visit. Anticipated opening dates have yet to be announced.
  • COMING SOON: Bold City Brewery, Jacksonville's first craft brewery, will be opening a second location in Downtown Jacksonville next to the Cowford Chophouse (currently under construction and expected to open summer 2016). This is an exciting addition to the crop of breweries opening Downtown locations like Engine 15 and Intuition Ale Works. The new Bold City location is currently planned to be a test kitchen and taproom, where the brewery will try out different exciting flavors and styles.


  • NEW: Beginning December 17, American Airlines is offering twice-daily nonstop service from JAX to New York's LaGuardia Airport.
  • COMING SOON: Allegiant Travel Co. is adding three direct flights to and from Jacksonville International Airport, including direct flights to New Orleans, Memphis and Richmond, Virginia. The flights will begin in April 14 and 15.
  • COMING SOON: Starting May 7, Air Canada will begin its first flights in and out of Jacksonville. They will offer non-stop flights between JAX and Toronto on Saturdays and Sundays. (Just in time for THE PLAYERS!)

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About Visit Jacksonville

Visit Jacksonville is a DMAI accredited Destination Marketing Organization contracted by the Duval County Tourist Development Council (TDC) to champion the growth of business and leisure tourism in Northeast Florida. Along with its nearly 400 tourism partners, Visit Jacksonville supports a vital and growing component of the local economy -- generating $2.2 billion in direct and indirect economic impact annually and supporting 22,000 jobs that span every sector of the economy. For a closer look at all there is to see and do in Jacksonville, go to or contact 800-733-2668.

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