Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

This T-Rex Will Never Go Extinct

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

This T-Rex Will Never Go Extinct

Article excerpt

Byline: Karen Brune Mathis

T-Rex lives!

The weathered, 20-foot concrete dinosaur looming along Beach Boulevard will evolve by April into a refurbished, repainted landmark.

Once the king of the former Goony Golf complex, T-Rex survived the closing, sale and reconstruction of the property into a retail shopping center, called Park Place for now.

In his honor, developers are playing with some names. Jurassic Park Place, for one. Dino Plaza, for another. Whatever the name, "we'll play off the dinosaur," says Randall Whitfield, vice president of developer Ash Properties Inc. Both T-Rex and the center should be ready for show by April 15.

It's been an overwhelming evolution.

Senior commercial leasing consultant Hawk St. John says the 1970s-era golf course, which sat along Beach Boulevard east of Southside Boulevard, closed in 1999 and Ash Properties bought the site in 2001.

Neighbors worried about the fate of the familiar but forlorn orange-painted statue, whose floodlight-lit eyes used to blink and whose mechanical arm had operated a door to collect the golf balls.

After the Times-Union wrote about the situation in May, calls flooded into Ash Properties.

St. John said Walt Disney World, Disneyland and other theme parks offered to take the dinosaur. Jacksonville politicians wanted to move it to Metropolitan Park. Chicago officials wanted it there. Offers also came from Seattle, Los Angeles, Washington, London and Australia. Calls came from people who wanted it, or at least wanted it preserved.

"I stopped counting after 1,332," St. John says, adding that about 150 calls came in before he started keeping a tally.

While Ash Properties initially intended to move T-Rex, the community response was another reason not to. It was almost immovable, anyway, created from a steel frame and wire mesh covered with concrete and plaster. And it sits on a concrete platform.

So Ash Properties executives brainstormed. …

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