Searching for Grocer for Northwest Jacksonville Meals Desert A Numbers Recreation – Information – The Florida Occasions-Union

A delicate mix of demographics, population density, traffic numbers, and financial incentives will be a tricky mix of demographics, population density, and financial incentives to lure grocery store developers to northwest Jacksonville – a so-called food wasteland where many residents have limited access to affordable healthy food, according to Advisor.

Projected sales volume will also be critical, said Tony Brown, whose T. Brown Consulting Group is studying the outlook for City Hall. Grocers in low-income areas need twice as many customers as grocers in higher-income areas, as higher-income customers tend to buy more, he said.

“Low-income areas tend to be underserved – there is a market imbalance based on household income,” he said. “It takes twice as many [low-income] Customers to break even. That is pure economy. “

Brown, of Fernandina Beach, explained the numbers game to food development at a community meeting Monday about the Northwest Jacksonville Food Desert Study. His company received a $ 105,000 city contract to investigate the issue and recommend how best to improve the area’s access to fresh food, meat, and vegetables, from financial incentives for store developers to health-eating courses for residents.

The final report should be in by March 31, Brown said.

The federal government defines a food wasteland as “a geographic area with no access to fresh fruits, vegetables, and other wholesome whole foods typically found in impoverished areas, largely due to the lack of grocery stores, farmers markets, and healthy food providers.” In Jacksonville, 40 of the city’s 173 census areas have been designated as food deserts, said Celeste Chavis, associate professor in Morgan State University’s Department of Transportation & Urban Infrastructure Studies who works with Brown.

“That doesn’t mean there aren’t any grocery stores [in those areas]but a significant number of people are far enough away from them, “she said.

Fifteen of these 40 areas are in northwest Jacksonville. With 37 percent of that area a food wasteland, city officials decided to launch their attack on the food wasteland there, she said.

A typical grocery store to build costs about $ 7.25 million, according to Brown, who has experience in banking and community development. Adding land and utility costs can bring the cost to $ 10 million, he said.

The city has allocated $ 3 million to fund incentives for up to six supermarket developments in northwest Jacksonville, as well as other food desert-related initiatives. Most or all of the funding for a supermarket project is “not a sustainable model,” said Kirk Wendland, chief executive of the city’s economic development agency.

“The city won’t have any grocery stores,” he said.

Brown said the city and residents also need to be ready to consider current grocery store trends such as smaller stores, online ordering, and home delivery. Online orders and home deliveries can benefit people who cannot get into a store due to physical or transportation issues, but would be problematic for people without smartphones or computers, he said.

Residents who attended the meeting suggested that the city should also consider helping small “mom and pop” dealers or a locally run food cooperative in northwest Jacksonville set up community gardens and work on the poverty that is rooting it of the lives of many low-income families.

Whether there will be more community meetings “remains to be determined,” said Cantrece Jones, president of Acuity Design Group, a local service company that is also working on the study. But Brown’s crew is ready to give their presentation in front of groups or organizations, she said.

To request a presentation or for more information, contact Jones at (904) 236-4106 or [email protected]

Beth Reese Cravey: (904) 359-4109

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