CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – A potential major move for the Orange Park mall could attract large crowds outside the mall for events like outdoor movies and festivals.
The mall is considering developing a venue called “The Grove” in the grassy area at the edge of its property. This would be separate from the events like the ones that are held in the mall’s parking lots.
A map was submitted to Clay County in the mall’s application for grant money to build “a modernized neighborhood hangout for Clay County and surrounding communities, as well as a destination aimed to attract visitors from near and far.”
There was support for the idea in the News 4 Clay County Facebook group.
“We need more places in the county where we can have large events besides the fairgrounds. Go for it! We need stuff to do locally,” one commenter wrote.
Another commenter posted: “I would love a place to have drive in movies close by. Of course make sure the venue is secure.”
But the mall’s application with the county says: “It is difficult to calculate the actual economic impact of The Grove, but at one event, the Freedom Fest, we expect to increase the over 20,000 visitors that we currently attract.”
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, infectious disease expert Dr. Mohammad Reza said that if the project opened soon, social distancing measures would need to be taken, but if it’s months or further down the road, the COVID-19 risk will be less.
“I think in a year or two, we’re looking at a different scenario,” Reza said. “Given the rollout of the vaccine has increased to 1.25 million vaccinations in arms a day, that looks good for trying to get a handle on this pandemic.”
The mall released the following statement to News4Jax:
“While in the early planning stages, we are working with all stakeholders to explore opportunities for an enhanced community greenspace at Orange Park Mall. We host numerous outdoor events and activations throughout the year for our guests and community, and we are always looking for ways to enrich those experiences. We will share details in the future.”