Moncrief prepares to lose its food desert status

(Modern Cities photo)

A long-time Jacksonville food desert could be going away if the Northwest Jacksonville Community Development Corporation (CDC) has it their way.

Founded in 2001, the mission of the CDC is to revitalize Northwest Jacksonville through education, housing rehabilitation, and economic development. With this in mind, the CDC appears to be making progress with the development of North Point Town Center Phase II.

Intended to economically anchor the District of Soul, a commercial corridor centered around Myrtle Avenue and Moncrief Road, the project could provide a major boost in the area's efforts to promote its heritage as a clustered location for restaurants and entertainment in Moncrief.

The Moncrief neighborhood itself dates back to 1914, when the Moncrief Park and Speedway Park subdivisions were developed to accommodate Jacksonville's rapidly growing black population north of Durkeeville, Sugar Hill and LaVilla.

Prior to their development, the area was the site of Moncrief Park, a major tourist destination on the outskirts of town that was linked to the city by a streetcar line.

At its height, Moncrief Park included a baseball field, bathhouses, a restaurant, bowling alley, dancing pavilion and mile long racetrack. For a brief period of time, it was the site of a horse racing track with events just as popular as the races at Saratoga.

However, Florida prohibiting professional horse racing in 1911, leading to its closure and the development of the community and commercial district that North Point Town Center Phase II intends to anchor.

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