Unpretentious metropolitan style meets stunning natural beauty…
Jacksonville captures the essence of a lifestyle and landscape reflecting the real Florida. Discover the heart of the city and endless stretches of pristine beaches, while exploring the region’s unique shopping, numerous dining options and warm Southern hospitality. With a moderate temperature year round, Jacksonville is home to numerous festivals, national and international sporting events, exceptional golf courses and world-class art and culture. Get to know Jacksonville there is so much "to do". This is where Florida begins. Below you will find information in alphabetical order on individual neigborhoods and unique areas in Jacksonville
Becoming a city of its own Argyle, a family-friendly community of homes, schools and businesses close to Jacksonville Naval Air Station and Interstate 295, has evolved from the farmlands it once was. Since its inception in the early 1980s, the area, which includes part of Clay County, continues to be a hot spot for affordable, quality housing. New subdivisions have spurred the growth of stores and services to the area, including street lane expansions and additional public services.
A potentially long commute from Argyle to work and school has been alleviated with the opening of Branan Field-Chaffee Road, which connects Blanding Boulevard near Middleburg in Clay County with Interstate 10 near Whitehouse. This is expected to further stimulate development.
Neighborhood parks, recreation centers and churches dot Argyle Forest Boulevard. Children who live in the Duval portion of Argyle attend Chimney Lakes Elementary, Jeff Davis Middle School and Forrest High School. Clay County students from Argyle attend W.E. Cherry Elementary, Orange Park Junior High School and Orange Park High School.
An established portion of Argyle is Chimney Lakes, consisting of 1,677 homes in 2 separate subdivisions. The property boasts 14 lakes, a recreation center, tennis courts, volleyball courts, a swimming pool, basketball courts, horseshoes facility and a covered pavilion. A white gazebo on scenic Twin Lakes is a popular place for residents' parties and weddings.
Argyle residences have a median home value of $129,761.
(Alderman Park.. Arlingwood ... Charter Point...Glynlea... Grove Park ... Spring Hill ... Holiday Hills ... University Park ... Woodmere)
Traditional yet young From its earliest days of settlements during the Spanish ownership of Florida, Arlington - the community west of the Regency Square shopping area and north of Beach Boulevard - has played an important role in Jacksonville's housing history.
During the 1800s, lumber and grist mills were established and, after the Civil War, more homes were constructed. It also was the site of religious colonies and a popular railroad line.
Starting in 1950 and assisted by the opening of the Mathews Bridge in 1953, Arlington was the fastest growing area in Duval County for the next 20 years.
Arlington has since mushroomed far beyond its original boundaries. Real estate professionals familiar with the area see a renewed interest in some of the older homes, especially those with waterfront property. Some of these homes date back to the early 1900s.
There are eight elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school, Terry Parker. Arlington Country Day, a small private school, also is in the area. Jacksonville University and Jones College offer higher education choices.
Many home buyers are looking for resale homes in mature neighborhoods and Arlington has a large price range to offer, from an average of $97,675 and up.
A drive-to neighborhood Bordered by Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park to the north, Atlantic Boulevard to the south and the Intracoastal Waterway to the west, Atlantic Beach offers a small-town atmosphere with easy access to the ocean.
Stretching only about 25 blocks from north to south, Atlantic Beach is a closed-end community of about 14,000 with a neighborhood feeling. The town center, near the landmark Sea Turtle Inn, is a popular gathering point with many quaint eateries and boutiques.
Atlantic Beach has plenty of parks with opportunities for a variety of activities such as tennis, racquetball, basketball, baseball and nature hikes, as well as playground equipment. In addition, the Bull Recreational Area houses the Atlantic Beach Experimental Theater, which puts on six to eight productions a year.
Students attend Atlantic Beach Elementary and Mayport Middle School. Fletcher Senior High in Neptune Beach serves the 9th through 12th grades.
Community activities are an important part of the Atlantic Beach lifestyle. Popular events include the Farmer's Market, the annual Dancin' in the Streets festival in mid-May, which includes live bands, arts, crafts and food; a Christmas festival; and parent-and-children camp outs in the city park several times' a year.
Although part of the greater Jacksonville municipality, Atlantic Beach has its own mayor, city council, police and fire departments.
Away from it all Baldwin, a town of 1,600 in extreme western Duval County north of Interstate 10, was named for Dr. A. S. Baldwin, who led the successful fight to bring the railroad to the area.
Beaver Street, once known as the Old Spanish Trail, almost bisects Baldwin, which has its own government, police and fire departments. There's easy access to 1-10 and to U.S. Highway 301 and Jacksonville International Airport is 25 miles away.
Although Baldwin has had its own government, fire and police departments, the town council voted to disband its 17-member police force in December 2005. The Jacksonville Sheriffs Office is scheduled to take over services in March 2006.
Baldwin students are served by Mamie Agnes Jones Elementary and Baldwin Middle-Senior High School.
Baldwin is the end point of the Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail, a 14.5-mile trail system for hikers, in-line skaters, bicyclists and horseback riders. The trail runs between Imeson Road and County Road 121, just past Baldwin.
Most Baldwin residents live in single-family older homes. The average home value is $85,585.
Quaint bit of country Bayard, off U.S. Highway 1 at the deep southern end of Duval County, was founded in the 1800s to serve nearby sawmills and turpentine plants. Named for a member of President Grover Cleveland's Cabinet, Thomas Francis Bayard, it was a stopping point for wagons, coaches and Florida East Coast railroad trains headed between Jacksonville and St. Augustine.
Now, it's a quiet, quaint place and a stopping point for shoppers who crave garage sale-type bargains at a popular antique village. Legend has it that the village was once a redlight district.
Bayard is surrounded by development, but is still definitely country. It is a short drive to The Avenues mall and the Best Bet at St. Johns Greyhound Park, where horse and dog races are simulcast. In addition, State Road 9A, which eventually will be a loop around Jacksonville, connects to U.S. 1 by Bayard, while 9B is also expected to connect to U.S. 1 just south of Bayard in the next decade. Also close to the area, Baptist Medical Center South, a high-tech state-of-the-art hospital at the southeast comer of Interstate 95 and St. Augustine Road.
Mixing it up
Local real estate agents have found for years that homes put on the market in Baymeadows are quickly snatched up by buyers both from other parts of Jacksonville and from out of town.
On any given day you might find families looking for starter homes, empty-nesters scaling down in house size or growing families moving up in square footage. The many apartments mean that Baymeadows is often the choice of singles who have just moved to the city.
The landscape is a mix of mature trees and large yards with the conveniences of city living. You don't have to go far to get to the places you need to go, but you still have the feeling that you live among nature
With Southside Boulevard and an easy connection to Interstate 95 from Baymeadows Road, residents can be downtown in 20-25 minutes - if traffic isn't heavy (popularity of the area has brought increasing traffic tieups).
Nearby are The Avenues mall, Deerwood Village Mall and St. Johns Town Center, an open-air mall with many stores and restaurants newer to the area.
The area has a range of home types and prices, including patio homes, condominiums, townhouses and single family homes. The average home price is $137,792. Many neighborhoods include amenities such as tennis courts, playground equipment, pools, security gates, soccer fields and parks.
While traffic congestion can get frustrating at times, road improvements have occurred. Baymeadows Road has been widened and the interchange of Florida 9A, Interstate 95 and Interstate 295 was completed in 2005.
Public schools include Twin Lakes Academy Elementary and Middle School.
A tree lined spot Straddling the eastern bank of the St. Johns River at one of its widest points and nestled between Mandarin, San Jose and Baymeadows lies Beauclerc, an idyllic, tree-lined neighborhood conveniently located with easy access to greater Jacksonville.
Sections of the neighborhood have developed an overhanging canopy, with the branches of trees on opposite sides of the roadway interlocking high above and providing a shaded pathway for residents and cars.
jacksonville as a whole, with the average home value at $157,870. the area's larger lots translate into homes with more floor space and bigger yards, some encompassing more than half an acre. though many homes date from the 1970s, most homeowners have steadily updated interiors, giving most properties a modern touch with few renovations needed. home styles range from traditional to contemporary to colonial, the variety of architecture stemming from the many different builders who constructed homes over the years. many houses feature brick construction.
Beauclerc is centrally located to shopping areas; proximity to Interstate 295 allows residents access to many other parts of the city. The St. Johns River marks the neighborhood's border, so boating is a popular recreational outlet. A number of marinas dot the area, including the Epping Forest Yacht Club, a half-mile north of the neighborhood. The club's centerpiece is a beautiful Spanish Renaissance style mansion, originally built by a DuPont family heir in 1927.
Home buyers with children are attracted to the quality and proximity of local schools. Area students attend Beauclerc Elementary, Alfred DuPont Middle School and Wolfson High School. Beauclerc is also home to the Bolles School's San Jose campus. The private school founded in 1933 serves grades 9 through 12.
Beauclerc attracts a nice mixture of older and younger homeowners, is culturally diverse and gives residents a sense of place hard to find in other areas of the city.
Reclaiming a neighborhood There are good things happening in Brentwood, a residential neighborhood bordered by Interstate 95, Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway and Golfair Boulevard.
The First Tee of Jacksonville, designed to make golf more accessible and affordable for young people, began at the site of the old Brentwood Country Club in December 2000.
The Brentwood library branch at 3725 Pearl St. received $600,000 in renovations, and reopened in January 2004.
And residents are working hard to reclaim their neighborhood from crime. Older developments, such as 589-unit Brentwood Park, have reported fewer crimes after massive rehabilitations. Repairs occur more quickly, federal laws help evict criminals faster and more police patrol the area.
Brentwood is served by Brentwood Elementary.
Trying for redevelopment The historically residential Brooklyn area, which borders LaVilla near the central downtown district of Jacksonville, has seen its share of down times. But neighborhood advocates are hoping for a resurgence that will include both businesses and residents.
The Brooklyn area's name has come up repeatedly when talk turns to art. In 1999, a group called Art Stop was formed to discuss designating an official Jacksonville arts district. The group focused on Park Street, which runs from Brooklyn, through Five Points, into Riverside. At the time, an old drug rehab center was being converted into the Brooklyn Contemporary Art Center, which was supposed to be the largest art center south of Atlanta.
But the state Department of Transportation demolished the bridge that linked Five Points with Brooklyn as well as the center. Artists who had studio space in Brooklyn fled to locales such as Springfield, San Marco and others to the Brooklyn Arts & Design Center at 123 E. Forsyth St and a second campus at 2360 Myra St. in Riverside.
Where government taketh away, though, it also giveth. In October 2004, Jacksonville approved the Brooklyn Neighborhood Strategy Plan, which called for the creation of mixed-income residential, parking and commercial development for South Brooklyn.
Officials are also hoping for a residential uplift (the 2000 Census shows about 24 percent of homes in Brooklyn as vacant), using a town center concept such as in San Marco.
The neighborhood also lies in an Enterprise Zone, an area designated as a target for economic development. Officials say its proximity to Interstate 95, Riverside Avenue and downtown make Brooklyn a marketable area.
Cedar Hills / Confederate Point / Jacksonville Heights
There is a renewed interest in the close-in neighborhoods of Cedar Hills, Confederate Point, and Jacksonville Heights - both as residential communities and new retail and commercial areas. These long-standing communities on the Westside lie east and west of Interstate 295 along 103rd Street, and have experienced a resurgence in the construction of new subdivisions, the remodeling of existing homes and opening of new stores and shopping centers. The major thoroughfares that connect these communities to Jacksonville include Old Middleburg Road, Blanding Boulevard and Lane Avenue.
One of the last vestiges of a simpler, country Jacksonville lifestyle, developments began in the area in the '50s, '60s, and '70s, resulting in homes built in a variety of styles.
An extensive housing price range is one of the area's biggest assets. The are's median home value is $118,700, with the average prices ranging between $50,000 and $200,000. Property values are increasing, but not skyrocketing.
Schools include Nathan B. Forrest High, Bishop John Snyder Catholic High, Jefferson Davis Middle, Gregory Drive Elementary, Oak Hill Elementary, Jacksonville Heights Elementary and Morse Avenue Elementary.
Residents are a short drive form the Cecil Field Commerce Center, an area of light industry and several recreation facilities.
Diamond in the rough
There is a forgotten frontier in Jacksonville with an abundance of waterfront property and pristine views of the St. Johns, Trout and Broward rivers and Dunn Creek. It is an area where industry and nature coexist. Jacksonville's Northside is a diamond in the rough, offering an expanse of land to those desiring a quieter lifestyle and an area being mapped to handle growth with strategic planning.
Although the area has been known primarily for industry, the tides have turned. People now see the Northside as incredibly convenient to downtown, Jacksonville International Airport (only a 15-minute drive), and varied recreational opportunities such as Big Talbot and Little Talbot islands, the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens and Huguenot Park. The area also backs up to 56,000 acres of the Timucuan preserve.
Three commercial strip malls have opened or are on the drawing boards. One opened in 2003 at Interstate 295 and Lem Turner Road and is anchored by Home Depot. Another, the 78,000-square-foot Duval Station Centre across from First Coast High School, also opened in 2003 and is anchored by Publix.
The area has lots more space to expand with waterfront land available. The average home price is $118,530, but waterfront properties can go much higher.
Deerwood and Tinseltown
Upscale with razzle-dazzle
The gated, golf club communities of Deerwood and Deer Creek set the stage for this area of town off Southside Boulevard. While there are numerous developments of moderately priced condominiums, apartment homes and single-family residences off Southside, Deerwood is the venerable locale with homes ranging from about $200,000 to $1.5 million or so. A new development in the area includes Old Mill Branch off of Gateway, which has homes priced from the $240,000s to $480,000s.
Beautifically kept office parks and car dealerships are close by, while The Avenues mall is a 15-minute drive away.
The Tinseltown area, north of the Deerwood-Deer Creek area, is named for the CineMark Tinseltown Theater that was first on the site. Now, it has plenty of company as the area is among the fastest growing spots in the city. Already located there are numerous restaurants and nightspots, shops, hotel and offices.
Upscale apartments near Tinseltown and the St. Johns Town Center attract young singles, while luxury condos have also gone up nearby. The area has also seen many apartment-to-condo conversions.
A real success story
Back in the 1920s, Durkeeville was a desirable place to live. And it is today. Many changes have taken place in the interim, though. Decaying public housing projects are gone, replaced with nicely kept townhouses and single-family homes, a park and shopping area.
The homeowners association of the Myrtle Avenue neighborhood and the Durkeeville Historical Society point with pride to the many positive changes. In 2000, Durkeeville was honored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as one of the top public housing areas in the nation.
The homes for low-income families contain three bedrooms, two baths and a single-car garage.The Durkeeville Historical Society, which opened a museum in 2000, is dedicated to telling the stories of many prominent African Americans from the area, such as Charlie "Hoss" Singleton, who wrote Frank Sinatra's Strangers in the Night, among other hits.
Eclectic and vibrant
Five Points - named for where Park, Margaret and Lomax streets come together from five directions - is really part of the Riverside area, but stands on its own because of its unusual nature. Colorful storefronts, restaurants and funky specialty shops, some with a lot of 'tude, make up the retail part of this area. Within eyesight and walking distance are schools, churches, parks and the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens. You can see young folks with numerous piercings as often .as you see men and women in business suits at the Publix supermarket and Starbucks coffee house In 2005, a project was completed to give the heart of Five Points a makeover by redoing the walks and adding lighting and benches. Work is continuing to convert an old theater and nightclub into condos.
Surrounding property values have steadily gone up; two-story homes that went for $50,000 to $80,000 a decade ago now go for $400,000 to $500,000.
Fort Caroline and East Arlington
Still a popular settlement
Fort Caroline is an area less than 15 square miles east of downtown Jacksonville on the southern shore of the St. Johns River. It's a glimpse of old Florida with breathtaking views of rolling terrain and stately oaks.In their leisure time, families in Fort Caroline take advantage of their natural surroundings by hiking, exploring, kayaking and fishing. They don't have to go far: a protected nature preserve is practically in their backyard.
Fort Caroline National Memorial, a part of the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, pays tribute to early French settlement efforts with a replica fort exhibit and visitor's education center. Just next door is St. Johns Bluff at Ribault Monument, a memorial to Jean Ribault, one of the area's first explorers. The view from the bluff offers a bird's-eye vista of the St. Johns River, once known as the River of May.
Development continues to soar, with such housing developments as Waterleaf, The Preserves at St. Johns Landing, Kernan Forest and Summerbrook, all subdivisions that offer homes form $200,000 to $299,000. Captiva Condominiums in Arlington offer one-, two- and three bedroom condominiums beginning in the $80,000s. The average home price is $139,415.
For home buyers in search of country club living, one of the areas more established private clubs is Hidden Hills Country Club, founded in 1965. Although new homes are going up quickly, hundreds of acres in Fort Caroline will remain untouched because of their historic standing.
Garden City and Dinsmore
Quiet lifestyle on city outskirts
The communities of Dinsmore and Garden City retain the rural small-town appeal they have held for decades. Residents who move here tend to stay, and many have neighbors they have known for years. With the exception of Dunn Avenue and Interstate 295, most of the area comprising Dinsmore and Garden City has been spared heavy traffic and urban encroachment. These two areas have communities sprinkled amid acres of forested and undeveloped land. Residents enjoy a friendly, rural lifestyle in quiet neighborhoods filled with large private properties.
The area has new single-family home developments including Trout River Landing, with homes from the $140,000s to the $230,000s; Waterbrook Falls, with homes from the $150,000s to the $190,000s; and White Oak Trail, with homes from the $160,000s to the 240,000s. The average home price is $207,854.
Woodwings, acreage near Jacksonville International Airport, is planned for business and commercial development. The 328-acre Woodwings East is expected to be used for warehouses, distribution centers and light industrial projects.
Dunn Avenue is the main commercial district, but, because it also has several churches, people have nicknamed it Church Road.
Locale is a big advantage to living in the area as it is close to Interstate 295 and the North Campus of Florida Community College at Jacksonville; only a 25-minute commute to the Orange Park Mall or Regency Square; and has a J.C.Penney-anchored shopping center at Lem Turner Road and Dunn Avenue.
Gateway and Talleyrand
Full spectrum of real estate
It's a part of Jacksonville that often gets overlooked, but Gateway and Talleyrand are redeveloping themselves.
Renovations at Gateway Center, along with road improvements funded by the Better Jacksonville Plan and new housing options, are bringing vitality to the area.
Historically, the Gateway and Talleyrand areas, on the outskirts of Springfield and the emerging downtown, were some of the earliest settled neighborhoods in Jacksonville. Examples of early 1900s architecture still exist. Buyers are purchasing these older homes and restoring them to their original glory.
Parts of Talleyrand are highly industrial, but the landscape is rapidly changing. The opportunity to own riverfront housing downtown in former industrial areas has become a reality. The Plaza at Berkman Plaza and Marina, a high-end condominium and townhouse project at 400 E. Bay St., welcomed its first residents in 2002. Developments at the former Jacksonville Shipyards, an off-again, on-again project, still is on the drawing board.
Andrew Jackson High School and Jean Ribault High School, two of the oldest public schools in Duval County are the neighborhood high schools.
Intracoastal and Intracoastal West
A place like no other
When you stop in one of the neighborhoods along the Intracoastal Waterway, taking in its vibrant ecosystem, you will see why so many residents have selected the area to call their home. It is, for all practical purposes, the city's eastern frontier, not quite the Beaches, not quite Jacksonville. It is a unique community, a place like no other in Northeast Florida.
Beautiful homes along the Waterway allow residents to enjoy marsh breezes and have their boats right at hand. Homes usually start in the $400,000s and go right up to $2 million.
But development hasn't stopped with single-family homes. Spots along the Intracoastal have been tapped for condos, such as Marina San Pablo off Butler Boulevard, the first tower of which should be completed in late 2006 (with a penthouse price of $1.275 million). Other projects include condos at the site of the Lighthouse Grill and at the Palm Cove Marina, both off Beach Boulevard at the Intracoastal.
As far as west of what residents call "The Big Ditch," it hasn't been that long since Butler Boulevard was a two-lane road, meandering through tree farms and row pastures on its way to the beach. Begun simply as an access road to the University of North Florida, it is now six lanes for most of its length and has brought shopping, new communities and more roads.
Homes in the region between Butler Boulevard along Hodges and Kernan roads to Atlantic Boulevard appeal to people of every income level. The average home value is $176,887, but there are new upscale neighborhoods with homes going for more than $1 million and everything in between.
Gated golf communities, such as Jacksonville Golf & Country Club and Glen Kernan Golf & Country Club, have sold quickly. They are joined by the new First Coast Technology Park on the University of North Florida campus and a new open-air shopping center, the St. Johns Town Center, near the intersection of Butler Boulevard and St. Johns Bluff Road.
Schools in the neighborhood are already a big drawing card. Chets Creek, Sabal Palm and Alimacani Elementary schools are highly rated, as is Landmark Middle School. Both UNF and Florida Community College at Jacksonville have campuses in the region.
Atlantic and Beach boulevards have been widened in recent years, and a new bridge is planned to replace the Intracoastal Waterway drawbridge on Beach Boulevard. Butler Boulevard is to be widened to six lanes from Southside Boulevard to Interstate 95, which should help traffic flow both into and out of town.
Residences range from moderate homes starting at $175,000 to gated country club communities with homes up to $2 million and more. The average home price is $148,017. Some of the reasonable developments include Bentwater Place with homes from $150,000 to $199.000; Pablo Bay, which offers homes ranging from $200,000 to $299,000; and Highland Glen, which offers homes from $300,000 and higher.
Queen's Harbour Yacht & Country Club, which has been steadily growing for the past 10 years, has been a big hit with boaters because of its easy Intracoastal and St. Johns River access through a freshwater lock system, and with golfers because of its Mark McCumber-designed course. Resale homes begin in the high $500,000s and range to $2 million.
On the south end of the Intracoastal, just past Butler Boulevard is Marsh Landing, which opened in 1982. Prices from the high $400,000s to $6.5 million.
By the beautiful sea
After years of standing in the shadow of Atlantic Beach and Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach is finally coming into its own.
Formerly known as the beach commercial center, Jacksonville Beach was full of businesses and residential rental property. It was a nice place to visit or shop.
But as demand for homes at the Beaches continues to skyrocket, more people have found Jacksonville Beach's mix of everything from $1 million-plus oceanfront homes to the area's most affordable housing quite appealing. The average home price is $213,435.
Of course, the resort and laid-back lifestyle is Jacksonville Beach's biggest perk. The area is becoming a community of the young and active. Head out on the weekends and you'll see young people everywhere playing on school groups, bicycling along the ocean, or riding the waves on surfboards.
Cultural, music and entertainment events are often on stage in Jacksonville Beach. The SeaWalk Pavilion, part of a $2.4 million downtown renovation project, is the focal point of beach festivals, which bring everything from blues legends to Latin bands to the stage. In the First Street entertainment district, you'll find the Freebird Cafe, which mixes food, local band Lynyrd Skynyrd memorabilia and every kind of music from old Southern rock to the newest local bands. Across the street is the Bukkets Baha Beach Club, one of the longest continuously open dance clubs in the city. Then there's Lynch's Irish Pub, with its traditional Irish music some nights and local '80s or funk bands on others.
There's a vibrant arts community throughout Jacksonville Beach - by day or night. You can hear classical music performed at St. Paul's By-The-Sea Episcopal Church throughout the fall as part of the Beaches Fine Arts Series and see a production by Players-By-The-Sea, one of the Beaches' two community theater groups.
All this activity, combined with some vigorous efforts by the city of Jacksonville Beach to add new landscaping and other beautification efforts, adds to the demand for Jacksonville Beach property.
Water, water everywhere
A neighborhood reaching back from the shores of the Ortega, Cedar and St. Johns rivers, Lake Shore is a family community that consists of both modest residences and waterfront homes. The average home price is $128,298. It was primarily developed after the Jacksonville Naval Air Station boom in the 1940s.
Because of its major road access - Blanding Boulevard, Cassat Avenue and Roosevelt Boulevard cross the area - Lake Shore residents are a quick drive away from shopping at Roosevelt Square, restaurants, the river with its many recreational activities and downtown.
Lake Shore students are served by Bayview Elementary and Lake Shore Middle School, a 1942 building that underwent an almost $13 million renovation completed in 1999. The $2.9 million Townsend Road drainage improvements, which were part of the Better Jacksonville Plan, have been completed and have solved previous problems.
Bringing back vitality
From its years as a bustling transportation center in the late 1800s to the time when it swung to the beat of Ray Charles, Duke Ellington and Sarah Vaughan, La Villa has had a colorful past. Its busy railway depot attracted thousands of travelers along Lee and Bay streets. In the early 1900s, its African American community of houses and entertainment venues flourished.
Today, after decades of urban decay and a controversial revitalization plan in the 1990s that left vacant lots where several longtime structures existed, La Villa has been revitalized.
The Ritz Theater has been restored to its former glory. The La Villa School of the Arts attracts talented students from across the county. Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church on Beaver Street opened a 5,000-seat sanctuary in May 2002. An increasing number of businesses are expanding or developing offices.
While development in La Villa - 770 acres north and west of the central downtown business district - has been commercial so far, it is possible that residential living might be a realty.
A bit of middle America
A distinct part of the greater Mandarin area, Loretto sits between San Jose Boulevard to the west and Philips Highway to the east. It is bordered to the north by Interstate 295 and to the south by the county line.
Loretto was formed by the Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine. In the days of Reconstruction, Loretto sprouted up next to the nuns' convent, dormitory and school. It is on what became Old St. Augustine Road, the highway between Jacksonville and St. Augustine.
According to Wayne Wood's Jacksonville's Architectural Heritage, the nuns were sent there to educate both the residents and newly freed slaves.
As more and more new Northeast Florida residents found the area's ancient tree cover, access to the river and convenient location appealing, Loretto and Mandarin started to grow.
The area public schools always have ranked high; Loretto Elementary earned A ratings on the FCAT in 2005, 2004, 2003 and 2002.
The average price for homes that become available in Loretto is $196,800. Many homes are built on some of the largest new construction lots in the area, and there are many dead-end streets and cul-de-sacs.
Loretto is popular, too, because of all its nearby amenities. Just about every merchant, service or restaurant imaginable lines San Jose Boulevard.
Loretto definitely has a solid, hometown feel. The neighborhoods are established. Parks and nature areas are nearby. There are many places for kids to play. It's a bit of proverbial middle America.
Popular, family-oriented community
Bordered by the Beauclerc area to the north, Julington Creek to the south and the St. Johns River to the west, Mandarin offers residents a suburban, family-focused lifestyle in an area that is quaint, charming and filled with history.
There are plenty of choices for home buyers with prices ranging from $140,000 to more than $3 million for a riverfront home. Many Mandarin home sites have a canopy of large trees that put nature's beauty on display.
Quality education is a priority for most families considering relocation, and Mandarin is known for its excellent schools - four elementary schools, two middle schools and Mandarin Senior High School. The area also offers various parochial and private educational facilities.
The community is central to Southpoint and Philips Highway businesses, making it a convenient commute for those who work in that busy corridor.
Downtown-area businesses, performing arts centers and Alltel Stadium are within a 20- to 25-minute drive. Mandarin has a variety of shopping facilities and resta