JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Publix store could soon be coming to East San Marco -- a project 17 years in the making.
A block away from San Marco Square a lot owned by Regency Centers sits empty. But it could soon be home to retail shops, restaurants and a 30,000-sqaure-foot Publix.
The San Marco Preservation Society hosted a town hall meeting Thursday at Southside Baptist Church to discuss the latest news on the long-planned shopping center on the corner of Hendricks Avenue and Atlantic Boulevard. Regency Centers appears to be working with elected officials, retailers and residents.
"They've addressed our concerns, they've addressed all our suggestions. We've been really happy with the whole process," said Linzee Ott, president of the San Marco Preservation Society. "This is what you want to see a development company do in your neighborhood."
One San Marco resident, who didn't give a name, loves the possibility of the land being developed.
“We’ve been waiting on it for a long time," the person said. "It will simply improve the area. It’ll be a little higher density, but it will be good for it.”
Hajir Aldaod also supports the development.
“I think it is a good opinion to open Publix and more stores or restaurants here since this will offer more job opportunities for the people and for the people who live in San Marco," Aldaod said. "They don’t have to drive all that way to get their groceries. They can just go grab their groceries.”
But not all San Marco residents are behind the development. Some are concerned about parking and walkability.
“This is a historic area, and I have always loved it for all the old buildings. I just can’t see a Publix being here," Patricia Botz said.
Botz said the convenience isn't worth the cost to the area's character.
“We go off Philips Highway, either Beach or we go to Atlantic to Harvey’s," Botz said. "I just can’t see a grocery chain here.”
Ott, a Jacksonville native who lives in San Marco, is hopeful for the development.
"Right now, you know, we have to drive a little far to get to a grocery store, so, it'll be a good thing for all the residents," Ott said.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Publix said, “We executed a lease several years ago, and we’re committed to San Marco.”
Council Member Leanna Cumber said she has worked diligently with Regency Centers on the project. The Publix building will be two stories with parking on the bottom level and the shopping center on the top.
Shops including at least two full-service restaurants are part of the plan. Regency Centers hopes to break ground on the project in spring.