A fatal shooting at the Jacksonville Landing on Martin Luther King Day was the second this month near the already struggling downtown landmark.
The Jacksonville Landing shopping mall and entertainment center has had trouble sustaining foot traffic through its iconic northbank structure the last few years, forcing store closures and even the shuttering of a maritime museum.
In the back right corner of Chicago Pizza is one of the Landing’s newest businesses — the Good Luck Have Fun Game Bar.
The walls are covered with videogame and comic book character murals and stocked with large screen TVs, computers and gaming consoles.
It’s one of three businesses that have opened since late last year.
Closer to the Landing’s front doors, Jarvis James and his family enjoyed some snacks and laughs at Coastal Cookies. He said he’s heard about the recent shootings involving teenagers, but that won’t keep him away.
“There’s no way we’ll let that run us away from the Jacksonville Landing. This is our city and we’ve got to take it back and our being here does that,” he said.
This week, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams told our partner News4Jax it’s likely the two recent shootings were connected, gang-related incidents.
“I think it’s a problem everywhere and we’ve had our share of those, absolutely. So, the same time we’ve had, in many cases, a new level of cooperation that we’re very proud of, but in some of these circles we’re not going to get that cooperation,” he said.
News4Jax also reports Jacksonville Landing owner Tony Sleiman is considering banning groups of teens younger than the age of 21. The mall already escorts groups of teens under 18 off the property.
The city’s Downtown Investment Authority launched a public forum for ideas on how to redevelop the property in 2015, but DTA and city officials couldn’t agree on who should pay the more than $11 million it would take to properly renovate the languishing property.
Sleiman said unless he gets public support for the redevelopment, the Landing will stay as it is.
Calls to Sleiman Properties went unanswered.
Reporter Ryan Benk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at (904) 358 6319 or on Twitter @RyanMichaelBenk.