Prime F. Osborn III Convention CenterEdit profile
Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center is a 265,000-square-foot (24,600 m 2) convention center located in downtown Jacksonville, Florida. Opened in 1986, it was built incorporating Jacksonville's Union Station as well as several thousand square feet of newly-built structure. Located in Jacksonville's LaVilla neighborhood, the Prime Osbourn contains two exhibition halls totaling 78,500 square feet (7,290 m 2), several ballrooms and meetings rooms. The City of Jacksonville is looking to replace the Prime Osborn within the next decade, with a larger 500,000+ square foot convention center in downtown Jacksonville. The Convention Center station of the JTA Skyway is located across the street.
LaVilla, at that time a suburb of Jacksonville, was for many years an important railroad hub. The first union station in the area was built by the Savannah, Florida and Western Railway (later part of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad) in 1883. The Jacksonville, Tampa and Key West Railway (also later part of the ACL) began to use it in 1884. Other terminals served the Florida Central and Peninsular Railroad (later part of the Seaboard Air Line Railway), the Florida East Coast Railway, and the Georgia Southern and Florida Railway. The company was incorporated in 1894 by Henry Flagler, who owned the Florida East Coast Railway. Its first Union Depot opened on February 4, 1895, and was completed on January 15, 1897. It came to be known as the Flagler Depot. The second Union Station opened in 1919 on the site of the original one, and was last used on January 3, 1974 ( Amtrak now stops several miles north). In 1982, a public-private partnership was started, led by former CSX chairman Prime F. Osborn III. The new convention center opened on October 17, 1986.
The original company was owned by five railroads, in the following proportions:
- 25% Atlantic Coast Line Railroad
- 25% Florida East Coast Railway
- 25% Seaboard Air Line Railway
- 12.5% Southern Railway
- 12.5% Georgia Southern and Florida Railway (later merged into the Southern)
The ACL and SAL are now part of CSX, the FEC is still independent, and the Southern is now part of Norfolk Southern.
Jacksonville Transportation Authority has plans to convert the convention center back into a railroad terminal with the re-opening of passenger travel down the Florida East Coast Railway and eventually commuter rail. This plan will rebuild the passenger platforms and restore the convention center back into a rail terminal. The convention center is to stay at the location, with a convention center and rail terminal complex.