The genesis of the concept came from Riverside Avondale Preservation’s (RAP) founder Dr. Wayne Wood, who was visiting Portland, Oregon, in 1993. He happened upon the Portland Saturday Market, an outdoor art market partially covered by an old bridge. Over 750,000 people visit the Portland Market every year. The weather-proof market idea seemed very adaptable to the space under Jacksonville’s Fuller Warren Bridge, which was then in the planning stage for replacement.

Wood returned to Jacksonville and convinced the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to support the project and to dedicate the usual under-the-bridge landscaping funds to accommodate the Arts Market’s amenities and requirements. Wood secured the backing of city officials as well. The concept would allow parking under the bridge during the week for Fidelity National Financial (located next door to the bridge) and the Arts Market on the weekend.

Architect Melody Bishop (a former chairman of RAP) was selected as the

architect for the Riverwalk connecting Downtown to the Fuller Warren Bridge, and her vision to integrate the Arts Market space with the riverfront pedestrian corridor was ingenious and creative. Parking spaces would become artists’ spaces on the weekend. Restrooms and a riverfront performance stage were built in. Utilities for artists’ booths, lighting, and visually attractive festival spaces were integrated into the area. Landscaping, decorative paving, and lighting under the bridge were all designed to enhance the market experience.