Tinseltown business comes and goes

Commercial Realtors describe area's situation as 'complex'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Commercial Realtors are describing the health of businesses and restaurants along the Southside Boulevard strip known as Tinseltown "complex."

The Cinemark theatre is considered the anchor -- it's been there since the 90s. But shops and restaurants in surrounding plazas are coming and going.

The local commercial Realtor calls it a complicated situation.

The big chains seem to be doing well. Mellow Mushroom just signed another 10-year lease, but in between the big stores are several empty storefronts.

Dry Clean City has been in the Tinseltown area on the Southside for more than 11 years. Owner Adel Beshara said his business has had its ups and downs, but has fared much better than others in the plaza.

"Mainly restaurants that don't make it. They come in and leave," Beshara said. "There's too many restaurants in the area, not enough business for everybody."

Dry Clean City is sandwiched between three vacant retail spaces -- a former Starbucks, McAlister's Deli and Vanguard.

The plaza behind it isn't looking much better.

"The center, you know, is 15, 20 years old, and for its time, it was a great center," PJ Apol said. "It still is a great center. The only problem is the competitive market of retail."

Apol said what's going on in the Tinseltown area isn't uncommon in other cities, too.

It began with the real estate market crash. But for Tinseltown specifically, he said the nearby St. Johns Town Center is pulling business that way, and inconvenient traffic patterns aren't helping either.

"It is kind of hard to get out," Apol said. "It's easy to get in if you're heading north on Southside. It's pretty easy to get in multiple entrances there, but it is kind of tough to get out sometimes."

On the other hand, new businesses do continue to move in.

Taste Food Studio recently opened in the former Urban Flats building, and a coming soon sign shows a Vietnamese restaurant will soon occupy the old McAlister's Deli next to Dry Clean City, something Beshara is looking forward to.

"New people coming in. New business for me," Beshara said. "That's how it works, you know."

The turnover is high, especially for smaller restaurants, but the storefronts aren't staying vacant for long.

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