JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Within days of Publix closing its store at Gateway Town Center at the end of the year, Winn-Dixie began overhauling the space with plans to open there.
On Wednesday morning, executives of the Jacksonville-based grocer gathered with three Jacksonville City Council members to announced the new Winn-Dixie on Norwood Avenue will open Feb. 12 -- about a month earlier than first expected.
“I’m smiling inside now because about a month ago we had a crisis in our community,” Councilman Reggie Gaffney said. “I’m so excited because the millions of phone calls I was getting. We actually got a partner who wants to be here at the Brentwood location.”
Winn-Dixie’s Jacksonville-based parent company, Southeastern Grocers, announced last fall the 28,120 square-foot building needed new air conditioning and a new roof, plus repaving the parking lot in addition to overhauling the interior.
City leaders and News4Jax were to get a “hard-hat tour” of progress on the store on Wednesday.
The quick transition is partly due to Jacksonville City Council approving a $850,000 grant to encourage another full-service grocery store to fill the void in a neighborhood when there aren’t many fresh-food options.
“We know one in six of Jacksonville population don’t know where their next meal is going to come from and investing in Brentwood community is a hugely important issue for us as we serve the food insecure,” said Anthony Hucker, president and CEO of Southeastern Grocers. “We are committed to being a store our customers can always count on and we want the communities we serve to know we are always here for them in their times of need. ... We are thrilled to rebuild the Gateway Town Center space from the ground up to elevate our customers’ shopping experiences.”
The Publix store had operated at the location for 20 years. To bridge the gap between that store closing and Winn-Dixie opening, the grocer’s foundation is working with Feeding Northeast Florida to provide free food to 300 people from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.
Winn-Dixie is also hiring to staff the new grocery. They have already received 640 applications and are are holding onsite interviews to fill various full- and part-time positions Monday-Thursday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Applicants are encouraged to apply before attending at http://www.winn-dixie.com/careers and reference “108” in the keywords field.