A Jacksonville City Council member is trying to see what he can do to keep Publix from closing its store in the Northside’s Gateway Town Center shopping center.
District 7 Councilman Reggie Gaffney represents the area and said he believes a large portion of nearby residents live below the poverty line and have nowhere else to buy fresh food.
“You’ve got public housing there. You’ve got a homeless center there. At least 10 to 15%, or probably higher, walk to Publix every day. They cannot walk 2 or 3 miles,” he said.
Gaffney said on Monday he talked to the shopping center landlord Gateway Management Properties and confirmed the rent of $17,000 per month would not going up for Publix.
“And what Gateway was willing to do is roll that over for the next 10 to 15 years, flat,” he said.
He also met with city Office of Economic Development Executive Director Kirk Wendland and left a message with Publix to try to get everyone around a table.
“I think the next step will be if Publix is interested to let them know that we want them in in the urban core,” he said. “Before you introduce legislation, you’ve got to have a conversation.”
The City Council this year approved a pot of $3 million specifically for attracting grocery stores to food deserts. Three-quarters of a million dollars is already being considered to go toward a Rowe’s store on Edgewood Avenue. Perhaps some of it could entice Publix to reverse its decision to close on Dec. 28.
“I'm just hoping that I can do as a leader and try to bring all the heads together and see how we can work this out,” Gaffney said.