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Final cookies, farewells for many at Jacksonville Landing

5 businesses sign one-week extension agreement, but must be gone by June 7

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After 32 years in business, Coastal Cookies baked its last batch of cookies Friday as it and most of the other Jacksonville Landing businesses that had not already gone out of business closed up for good.

A handful of them took advantage of a one-week extension offered by the city.

At the cookie storefront, customers lined up to say goodbye to owner Susan Lindsey. She said it was a hard day for her.

“We just want to say thank you," Lindsey said. "We’ve been so blessed and so grateful for all the loyal support."

Earlier this week, tenants were given the option of a seven-day extension agreement. Some, like the owners of the clothing store Accentuate, said that deal was unfair.  

Accentuate's owners Mike and Romana Cobb said the city has not come through on promises to help them relocate and they blame City Councilman Reggie Gaffney, who met with owners earlier this month and said funds should be available to help them relocate.

The Cobbs said no extra money was offered to them. They point to the deals made to large restaurants and Compass Bank, which were given the bulk of $1.5 million the city is paying to break the leases of Landing tenants.

"Gaffney, you need to keep your word,” Ramona Cobb said.  

Other store owners, like Michelle Rhodes, who owns Hana and Her Sisters Jewelry, says it’s all unfair.

“We don’t have the money to fight, for the lawyers, for the representation that the big corporations do," Rhodes said. "Because of that, they put us out of business."

Gaffney said he understands why the store owners are upset with him.

"They got a right to say that because I met with them … after getting some direction from the administration about what the city was going to be able to do," Gaffney said.

He said at that time, he did not know the majority of the money was going to those businesses with long leases. He said he is working on legislation to try and find more money to help the smaller business.

Brian Hughes, Mayor Lenny Curry's top administrator, told News4Jax on Friday that the city has done all that it is legally required to do and met its obligations.

"We fulfilled our legal obligation and we made additional concessions to the existing tenants or the remaining tenants for the purpose of helping them transition to a space,” Hughes said.  

Five of the smaller tenants did sign the extension agreement allowing them to remain until June 7.

While all the businesses will be gone after June 7, the Landing will not close down completely. In fact, it will be the primary viewing site for the city's Fourth of July celebration. City officials said portions of the Landing might be blocked off in August so demolition work can begin.

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.