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Demonstrating the value of art and innovation for neighborhood revitalization in the heart of Jacksonville, FL

Phoenix Arts & Innovation District is a pioneering organization dedicated to the practices of creative placemaking, regenerative development, and adaptive reuse of commercial real estate. We are passionate about transforming spaces into vibrant, sustainable, and inclusive environments that foster community and creativity.


Last week our Director of Community Engagement, Emily Moody and our Land Use attorney from Rogers Towers, Emily Pierce, successfully went in front of the City Planning Commission for unanimous approval of our PUD (Planned Unit Development) for the rezoning of our full 8.3 acre district. The final City Council vote will happen on June 18th. We have been diligently meeting with each and every council member on this and have been receiving positive feedback and support. 


It’s almost time to start hard hat tours for the Emerald Station! The 100 year old Emerald Station building houses a mix of 25 creative office spaces, a community gathering space and a 500 person event venue. Our team is on track to open in early Fall 2024 and is pre-booking both the offices and event venue now. This will become the creative and innovative HUB of the district with The Emerald Trail passing directly behind, offering convenient and accessible public transportation to and from the Arts & Innovation District including a small business incubator & accelerator program powered by Future of Cities | PHXJAX. 



“The City of Jacksonville, Groundwork Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) are celebrating a ‘major victory’ in their commitment to delivering the Emerald Trail to the Jacksonville community.”

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PHXJAX in the Press | Upcoming Events | Internship Opportunities

Interested in building with us? Email for more info.

Participatory Co-Design & Proactive Balance for Regenerative Futures

“Oceans should be viewed as bodies of water that connect people, cultures, and nations, not separate them.”

Professor Ramsay Taum, Blue Continent

Oceans Month is almost over but the life beneath the surface continues to thrive. Our oceans are our greatest teachers of collaboration. This month we’ve been in awe of our underwater friends and their ability to move together & protect each other. 

At Future of Cities headquarters we’ve been focusing our attention on Ecological Balance, our giving and receiving, ebbing and flowing, slowing down to listen to the wisdom that lies at the depths of the oceans, beneath our soils, in the rays of the sun & through the powers of the wind. 

Preserving our planet’s ecosystems involves deep listening, participatory co-design, co-creation, collaboration and the implementation of varied practices and technologies for maintaining an active balance within the built environment. There is no one size fits all solution and cohabitating requires cooperation.

Ecological balance…

A foundational principle of our Regenerative Placemaking framework is “ecological balance.” Ecological balance is fundamental to mitigating biodiversity loss and securing a more sustainable future for the next seven generations. Within ecological balance we honor our past to teach us how to harmoniously adapt & coexist with the various climate changes at hand in the present. The intricacies of ecosystems is a complex web of interconnectedness which requires active participation and continuous balancing for lasting change. 

This month, as we immerse ourselves in the oceans of change, we’ve been wondering, with all that the ocean selflessly provides for us, in what ways can we continue to innovate and give back to our oceans? 

As conscientious stewards of digital technology & ecological policymaking, we have a shared responsibility to deploy efforts and resources to preserve indigenous cultures while simultaneously recognizing, honoring and amplifying the immense contributions that indigenous leaders and communities are continuing to make towards modern technological advancements. 

At the end of May we gathered for a historic geopolitical event with some of our close partners and global leaders at the ChoZen eco-retreat for a roundtable on regenerative technologies and cultural identity. Our Future of Cities team joined in a land blessing, with prayers led by Hawaiian indigenous leader and professor Ramsay Taum.

During their time at ChoZen, Blue Continent Institute generously shared with us their visions and goals on cultural respect and identity, passing on perspectives of island states and their depth of understanding for the importance of ecological balance beginning with the ocean. 

The wisdom that the ocean carries gifts us many insights, beyond water as natural wonders or utility for human transactions, and instead takes us on a much deeper journey to look within ourselves for the inner knowing that we are made of the ocean and are not separate from it. 

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Shaping America’s Role in the Post-COVID World

On March 4th, 2022, Future of Cities participated in the annual digitally mediated Horasis USA meeting. The meeting focused on the United States’ future and how it impacts the rest of the world. With 750 speakers and more than 150 sessions, it was an insightful event that resulted in numerous proposed ideas to positively shape the future of our world.

Tony Cho, CEO and founder of Future of Cities, was on a panel centered around the complexities of new urbanization—chaired by Timothy J. Nichol of Liverpool John Moores University—with Antonio Cantalapiedra of Woonivers, Mayor Eugene W. Grant of Seat Pleasant, Maxim Kiselev of Skoltech, and Avi Rabinovitch of Creative Links.

About Horasis: Horasis is a “global visions community committed to inspiring our future” and offers leaders and companies a platform to go global.

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As extreme weather events, like sea-level rise, wildfires, and other ecological disasters occur, climate change is becoming a more real and imminent threat by the day. In response, innovative concepts are spawning to mitigate effects and protect our society’s future. One such approach discussed in the sustainability and climate discourse has been regenerative placemaking. But what is this?  

Regenerative placemaking offers a new, holistic approach that is actively being applied in cities on a global scale. It seeks to go beyond net-zero to create a net positive impact on the environment. The principles that support regenerative placemaking are many, including living systems thinking, biophilia, sustainable practices, and community engagement. 

In this article, we are highlighting a few cities that are practicing these principles, and what can be learned from them.

Residents walking and riding bike in Copenhagen, Denmark.

1. Copenhagen, Denmark

Already known as the world’s greenest and most habitable city, Copenhagen has employed numerous regenerative placemaking tactics that contribute to its healthy living environment. 

Medellin, Colombia's hills with homes.

2. Medellin, Colombia

Medellin is a member of the “100 Resilient Cities” and part of the UN’s Green Cities initiative. In the midst of its natural forests, Medellin is evolving and has proven itself to be a model of social and urban transformation. The city owes its development to the collective co-creation amongst its citizens, public and private organizations. The presence of this transdisciplinary interaction has led to increased levels of community engagement.  Emerging from this partnership is an image of a resilient Medellin, one with goals of safety, equity, and sustainability. 

Innovative architecture in Medellin, Colombia.

Wide view of Auckland, New Zealand.

3. Auckland, New Zealand

As one of the most liveable cities in the world, Auckland continues to find ways to create exceptional strategies that result in the city’s transformation. There is an emphasis placed on eco-design and energy efficiency. For example, the city provides readily available resources to assist the community to make smart choices and reduce waste–whether home or business. Unique to Auckland is its reconnection with its indigenous population and natural systems. In an effort to create diverse and inclusive community engagement, a Māori design leader, Phil Wohongi, was appointed in an aim to foster the integration of identity and culture in Auckland. The city’s outreach includes speaking and listening to various community members and taking action. In regards to natural systems, Auckland has taken up many projects that include the redevelopment of waterfronts and biophilic practices.

Montevideo, Uruguay architecture.

4. Montevideo, Uruguay

Montevideo is the cultural, political, and economic center of Uruguay. The city is committed to the welfare of its citizens by placing an emphasis on human rights and sustainability. Montevideo is actively implementing the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 agenda. The city has developed a number of strategic plans for development and tackling social, economic, and environmental vulnerability.  In 2016, Montevideo was listed as a member of the 100 Resilient Cities Network. A Resilience Executive Unit was established then, to create and deliver a Resilience Strategy by 2018. The Strategy involved regenerative placemaking approaches like inclusivity, co-creation environmental commitments. Beyond this, Montevideo, and Uruguay as a whole, have taken up other projects to constantly improve agricultural and energy systems.

Ultimately, what we can learn from these identified cities are the huge role nature, technology, and the community plays. The effectiveness of natural solutions to environmental challenges is evident. We can look to nature as an energy resource, and utilize its cooling and filtration properties. There is also the benefit of equipping the built environment with smart tools for energy measurement and efficiency. All these tactics depend on community engagement. It is important for the community, not just to understand these principles, but also to be involved in them, so that implementation and necessary lifestyle changes will be welcomed. 

There are many other cities that are implementing regenerative placemaking principles in an effort to create healthy and sustainable environments; It is only a matter of time before we start seeing the effect of these changes. 

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