Residents voice concerns over Riverside changes


JACKSONVILLE, FLA. – Some Riverside residents are pushing back against a new addition that could be coming to the neighborhood. Two local developers want to turn an abandoned laundry and dry cleaners into a 150 seat restaurant.

The building is where the De Luxe Laundry and Dry Cleaners used to be on Oak Street.

The potential restaurant is getting mixed reviews. Some look forward to another dining option while others say they worry about parking and the area would be better served with housing and not another place to eat.

Developers are looking to change the zoning for this vacant building, as well as half of the adjacent De Luxe Launderette building. The primary concern of the community is commercial encroachment.

Kevin Pettway lives in the area. "The reason that the neighborhood is against the restaurant coming in has actually nothing to do with the restaurant itself. Our concerns are outside of the developer. We're concerned about what's going to happen after the restaurant moves and fails the PUD-, which is their rezoning. Its permit stays with the property and other restaurants can come in and abuse the things that they have set up," said Pettway.

The two buildings where the restaurant would be have been vacant since 2005.
One third of the Oak Street building is occupied by Snap Fitness.
The De Luxe Launderette building on the right side of the Deluxe Laundry and Dry Cleaners building will remain empty for now.

Developers say they are working to address neighborhood concerns, and a number of people are in favor of the development.

Juma Pryor works out next door and isn't completely opposed to the change.

"I definitely would go. I feel like the city needs a little more energy even if it's not that restaurant. It needs to be something here besides just a vacant building," said Pryor.

Although not everyone is saying yes to the restaurant, most people agree something should be done about the vacant building.

"Would you want to be there if you want to stay vacant? No! Oh not at all. We very much want to see something new then look to see that area space develop. Our best use for the property would be to see townhouses or just regular houses. I would say we have to get out of 1930s and get into 2016. We cannot stay the same if you want change. You have to build upon it and it's going to generate business for everyone," said Pryor.

Before the full council votes on the zoning change, it has to be brought up in at least two public hearings and get through the Land Use and Zoning Committee.
The bill is likely to go in front of the city council next year.

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