Councilman: Winn-Dixie interested in taking over Publix space at Gateway

Residents, city leaders worry Northside store closure to create food desert

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As the Publix grocery store at the Gateway Town Center is set to close Dec. 28, a city councilman wants people living in the community not to panic.

After News4Jax's news partner, The Jacksonville Daily Record, reported that Rowe’s IGA Supermarket will not take over the Publix space, City Councilman Reggie Gaffney told News4Jax on Monday that there are still options on the table, including a possible deal with Winn-Dixie. 

After nearly two decades on the Northside, Publix officials announced the closure of the Gateway Town Center supermarket last month after deciding not to renew the lease. 

Once it closes, some residents and city leaders worry it will create a food desert because the next closest supermarket is nearly a mile away.

“I think it’s a bad idea,” said Publix shopper Beatrice Louis. “There’s a lot of elderly people in the neighborhood, and they can’t get around.”

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To make sure residents have access to fresh food, Gaffney told News4Jax he is actively talking to Gateway management to make sure residents have access to a grocery store. He said Winn-Dixie is one grocery chain interested in taking Publix's place. 

“We are on third base with Winn-Dixie, if you know anything about baseball,” explained Gaffney. “It’s just about getting the numbers together and both agreeing on those numbers so we can move forward.”

In a statement to News4Jax, Winn-Dixie’s parent company, Southeastern Grocers, said: 

“SEG is always looking at opportunities to serve communities throughout our footprint. This particular opportunity is a unique situation and we’re currently doing our due diligence to assess how we can potentially meet the needs of all parties involved.”

Even if it is not Winn-Dixie, Gaffney said he is confident there will be a store in place of Publix next year. 

According to the Daily Record, Rowe’s IGA Supermarket owner Rob Rowe told The Daily Record he will not take over the Publix space at Gateway Town Center because he could not agree on lease terms. Rowe later confirmed to News4Jax that Rowe's won't take over the Publix, saying the rent was too high.

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Jacksonville native and proud University of Florida graduate who joined News4JAX in 2016.