A new Winn Dixie store is slated to open on February 12 in North Jacksonville’s Gateway Town Center, where Publix’s December withdrawal threatened to create a food wasteland in the Brentwood community.
The 28,120 square meter rented space is currently under renovation and the grocer plans to have free weekly grocery distribution events on the premises until the store opens.
“We are humble and proud to … invest in the local community,” said Anthony Hucker, President and CEO of Winn Dixie’s parent company Southeastern Grocers, on a tour on Wednesday about her progress with the renovation.
In addition to a full-fledged grocery store, the new Winn-Dixie will also feature retail and construction work, he said.
Winn-Dixie’s plan to follow Publix was awarded with the help of a $ 850,000 grant approved by Mayor Lenny Curry’s government and the city council.
Publix announced in October that it would close the Gateway Store at the end of the year after 19 years at the site. That would leave Harvey’s on 48th Street, about a mile away, the next grocer in an area where many residents have low incomes and lack of transportation to get beyond their neighborhoods.
City officials and community leaders feared the result would be a new food desert, defined by the federal government as an urban area of at least 500 residents, or at least a third of the population, at least a mile from a full area -service grocery or market, who sells fruit, vegetables and fresh meat.
Residents “felt a little disappointed” because they couldn’t count on a business to “meet a basic human need – nutrition,” said Hucker. So the company decided to fill the gap.
“We’ll bend over here,” he said. “It’s important for us to … swim upriver.”
The community response has been “fantastic,” he said. Among the fans was Susan King, President and CEO of Feeding Northeast Florida, a regional food bank that works to end hunger.
“I can’t overstate the impact of Southeast Grocers’ decision to reopen the gateway location,” she said. “Given the very real possibility of another area where people don’t have access to healthy, nutritious food, it’s wonderful to see Winn-Dixie averting a potential food wasteland with the support of the City of Jacksonville.”
The grocery bank will help keep Winn-Dixie’s scheduled weekly food distribution events in the store’s parking lot, which will “help fill the void for many families who may otherwise have limited grocery options” until the store reopens said King.
Councilor Reggie Gaffney, to whose district the business belongs, praised the public-private partnership that resolved the crisis.
“I know my community and I know that it is really necessary that someone fills this void and prevents a food wasteland in this area. I am grateful to Southeastern Grocers and Winn-Dixie for stepping in to meet this critical need and bring relief to these people, ”he said. “I’m grateful to mine too [council] Colleagues and the administration [of Mayor Lenny Curry] for your support … to make this happen. “
The investment by Winn-Dixie and real estate owner Gator Investments Inc. is expected to be around $ 2.1 million. The city grant is released after the city issues a certificate of occupancy stating that the building is ready for occupancy and after the investments in the building have been documented.
GATEWAY TOWN CENTER WINN-DIXIE
• During the renovation, the Winn-Dixie Gives Foundation and Feeding Northeast Florida will host weekly events in the pantry in the store’s parking lot on Norwood Ave. 5210. First, first served events take place on Saturdays from 11am to 1pm on February 11th, 18th, 25th and 1st to feed up to 300 families each.
• On-site interviews to fill various full-time and part-time positions take place Monday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the store. From Monday 0113 applicants can apply in advance at winn-dixie.com/careers and enter “108” in the keyword field.