The city of Jacksonville on Wednesday is celebrating the development of a new shopping center in the Brooklyn area, which is nestled between the Fuller Warren and Acosta bridges.
Mayor Alvin Brown was the keynote speaker at a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Shoppes on Riverside.
"I'm very proud of this, my vision to invest in downtown to make sure we had a place people would want to work and live and visit," he said. "So with the Fresh Market grocery store groundbreaking today is a part of that whole strategy."
The Fresh Market and Corner Bakery Cafe will be opening stores at the 50,000-square-foot shopping center, which is across the street from the Yates Family YMCA on Riverside Avenue, between Five Points and downtown.
It's an area developers say is being completely revitalized.
Fresh Market, the anchor store for the shopping center, has already signed on for its third Jacksonville store. It will open in October.
"We're going to have an additional 30,000 square feet of small shop retail and restaurants throughout the site," said Paul Maxwell, vice president and regional officer for Regency Centers Corp., one of the developers. "It's a very integrated site right off Riverside Avenue. A lot of our shop space is going to be right on the front edge of Riverside facing back into the center."
This project is surrounded by several others, including a couple new apartment complexes.
"The unique design has made it a place where retailers and restaurants have had strong interest," said Patrick McKinley, a senior leasing agent. "The site itself also is an urban infield site. You've got dense residential, strong daytime traffic. You've got 600 apartments that are coming online within the next year. It's really something we're excited for."
The mayor said the shopping center represents a significant milestone in the revitalization of downtown Jacksonville and will bring the first new grocery store in the area in nearly a generation.
"Our center is going to be uniquely situated in the heart of that, and the retail that we're going to be offering along with the restaurants are going to be a very nice complement to the area, not only to downtown Jacksonville but to the residents of Brooklyn and Riverside," Maxwell said.
Negotiations for more tenants are ongoing, and Regency Centers says it'll have more "coming soon" announcements in the near future.
"Honestly, these are some great products," said Daniel Davis, president of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce. "You have to have residential -- if we want to make downtown grow and prosper, we have to have people living down here. This is great opportunity for us to have workforce, housing, a grocery store and all the amenities people would expect to live in a certain area."