Haskell’s Planning + Design Collaborative has worked with the community and multiple stakeholders to reimagine and redevelop Mayport’s core waterfront area into a vibrant, mixed-use village.

September 25, 2023

Revitalizing Mayport: A Sustainable Approach to Waterfront Development

Discover how Haskell’s Planning + Design Collaborative is transforming Mayport, Florida's shoreline into an authentic and vibrant mixed-use village.


Mayport, Florida, is a small community at the mouth of the St. Johns River about 25 miles east of Jacksonville. It has a rich history that some historians date to 1562, when French explorer Jean Ribault arrived, while others point to about 1830, when the first St. Johns lighthouse was erected.

Suffice it to say that its roots are deeply intertwined with the maritime industry. Fishing and, since World War II, the presence of Naval Station Mayport form its economic base.

Recently, the City of Jacksonville engaged Haskell’s Planning + Design Collaborative to create a two-phased approach for developing seven acres of city-owned property along the St. Johns River.

Built on Haskell’s legacy of certainty as a technically strong design-builder, the Planning + Design Collaborative thoughtfully integrates its in-house team of planners, architects, landscape architects, engineers and visualization specialists to create visionary plans that transform neighborhoods into sustainable environments.

Chris Flagg

In this case, the goal is to redevelop Mayport’s core waterfront area into a vibrant, mixed-use village comprising three uniquely defined districts: Education, Historic and Working Waterfront. Chris Flagg, Architecture and Engineering Group Operations Principal, has been working with the community and city advisors over the past few years to redevelop the beautiful shrimping village, lending the project his expertise in landscape architecture and design.

Flagg took some time to answer a few questions about the Mayport Village.

What is your biggest hope for the Mayport upgrade?

That it becomes the destination that it so deserves to be. When you look at the opportunity to pay reverence to history, to enjoy the days of a working waterfront, it is more of a personalized scale to where it is not overdone. We don’t want to create a Disney, something that goes against its authenticity. Mayport in its function is so authentic to north Florida because of its shrimping and fishing industry. It's gritty, it’s service-oriented and it’s quaint all in the same sentence.

How much of designing the redevelopment of Mayport is aesthetics vs. practicality?

There is a practical need and an aesthetic desire for Mayport. The community is very aware of scale and does not want anything over two stories high. We look at coastal cities such as Fernandina, Tarpon Springs and Mystic Seaport in Connecticut to gain architectural inspiration for what we can do in Mayport that fulfills its needs and pleases its community. Mayport is a gem that deserves to be developed smartly and that doesn’t over-commercialize its location. Our goal is for it to develop as organically and authentically as possible.

How much does community support play into achieving this redevelopment?

It’s everything. The community has to support it. The demographic is changing in Mayport. The old Mayport didn’t want to see change or the influx of the tourist dollar. They didn’t want their history suffocated. But the demographic is changing and with that, the vision has been changing for the first time in years. The human infrastructure is in place to carry out that vision, and it’s cool to be a part of that.

I see this hardworking culture in Mayport, there is so much history and so many lessons to be learned as far as ocean ecology, climate change, and sea-level rise. So, can we have reverence for the past but also look to future generations to understand what’s going on in our oceans and the industry?

There is so much to the community about how they live and how they work that deserves to be preserved and respected through this redevelopment.

How long will this project be from start to finish?

We are currently in the planning phase, and we want to set a development guideline and say, “If you’re going to build, it can’t be over two stories, it’s going to have canopies and a low-country, coastal-style type of architecture.” Someone will have to step up and say they want to develop it in that way. But they are setting their plan of action in place, and it could take years still, and it’s already been a few years, but we are closer now than we were.

What would you say this project means for Haskell and the Planning + Design Collaborative?

It has been my 30-year relationship with the community of Mayport that led to their decision to choose us to work with them on this vision. Our Planning + Design Collaborative exists to immerse itself in communities like this to plan smartly. With the leadership of Fred Jones, our Design Director, and my history here, we are trying to create a foundation to make Haskell a full-service company from planning to construction. This would be a huge feather in the Haskell cap, and to have the company associated with this historical small town where people from all over come to visit is a big accomplishment for our team.

From cities and campuses to transportation networks and the natural environment, our Planning + Design Collaborative plans, designs and implements people-focused solutions. Contact the team to discuss your hopes and needs.

Haskell delivers $2± billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 2,200 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.

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