JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As Publix is on its way out of the Gateway Town Center in Northwest Jacksonville after not renewing its lease, the City Council has approved an $850,000 grant for another grocery store to take its spot.
The taxpayer-funded grant was approved last week and now awaits Mayor Lenny Curry’s signature.
Shoppers told News4Jax on Sunday, which marked 13 days until Publix will vacate its spot on Norwood Avenue, that they feared, without a grocery store coming to take Publix’s space, they would be left without a nearby store, making food harder to access. Now they said they have hope there will soon be more growth.
“I felt bad for the senior citizens that stay in this area because, see, I have a vehicle. Some of them don’t have a vehicle, so how would they get to the store?" said Joyce Johnson, who lives in Northwest Jacksonville.
Northwest Jacksonville residents had said they were concerned that the Publix closing would create a food desert. The Jacksonville City Council, however, has since approved the $850,000 that Winn-Dixie requested to take Publix’s spot.
“That’s going to mean a whole lot, especially for the elderly and the handicapped because they have no other place to go unless it’s the Southside or Arlington,” Johnson said.
The Publix store, which has been in the community for 20 years, will be on its way out in less than two weeks, but City Councilman Reggie Gaffney said Winn-Dixie could possibly be opening as early as the beginning of next year.
"I hope they continue to make progress in this area," Johnson told News4Jax.
Pending the mayor’s signature, the grant money will come from the Northwest Jacksonville Economic Development Fund to help with renovation for the new store on Norwood Avenue.