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East Garden District Merges Past and Present by Will Isern

With work set to begin on the first phase of what promises to be a transformative project in the heart of downtown Pensacola, the project’s planners are drawing from the past for inspiration. Local developer Chad Henderson is driving the next phase of downtown Pensacola’s ongoing renaissance with plans to transform two blocks of Garden Street into a destination lifestyle district

featuring shops, restaurants and a hotel. Henderson’s East Garden District plan was unveiled in May and has been in the planning stages ever since. Now, work is set to begin. The first sign of progress will be the demolition of the rear half of the former Reynold’s Music building at the corner of Garden and Jefferson Streets to make way for a placemaking restaurant. More critical, though, will be the work that commences next to reimagine Jefferson Street as a pedestrian-friendly streetscape from the drab thoroughfare that it is today. At every step in the design process, Henderson has looked to the past for

inspiration. The East Garden District takes its name from the historic streetscape laid out by British officer and engineer Elias Dunford, whose 18th century grid plan for the city’s streets established many of our modern roadways. And like Dunford’s street plan, Henderson’s vision for the East Garden District is one of walkability, community and connectivity. “We’ve seen that the past several decades has mostly been made up of suburban sprawl and what we would frame as vehicular-centric development,” Henderson said. “Now in many areas and markets we’re seeing a movement of development back to the core and Business Climate 53

Profile for Ballinger Publishing

Pensacola Magazine, August 2019  

Pensacola Magazine, August 2019