Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Study Shows That Gateway Can Succeed

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Study Shows That Gateway Can Succeed

Article excerpt

The $5 million that the Jacksonville City Council earmarked

last month to help fill Gateway Market place's asphalt expanses

with new stores and shoppers may turn out to be one of its best

investments.

This hunch is backed by a highly placed source.

Barry Bluestone, professor of economics at the University of

Massachusetts in Boston, and other national scholars in racial,

economic and social-equality issues spent two days at Harvard

University with members of the Trotter Group, an organization of

African-American columnists and editorial writers.

Bluestone is involved in a study of racial attitudes and

demographic changes in Boston, Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles.

He said the purpose of the study is to go beyond census data to

get "a better idea of how people are doing, and for them to tell

us about their neighborhoods and their sense of it all."

What researchers are finding, says Bluestone, is that more

people think a shopping center enhances their sense of

community, and they are supporting them. He said more urban

malls such as Atlanta's South DeKalb Mall and Boston's South Bay

Center are defying the notion among banks and retailers that

doing business in older, struggling areas is an exercise in

futility.

"Here in Boston, that was precisely the same perception:

`Don't do business in the inner city, or you'll lose your

shirt,' " Bluestone said. "But those perceptions are starting to

change. Banks, if they're smart, are also beginning to realize

the gains in black middle-class income."

South Bay Center, which has been profitable, has a history

that parallels that of Gateway. Its success shows what community

support and business acumen can do for a struggling area.

The center's manager, Timothy Ready, and Larry Guilmette, one

of the directors for Samuels and Associates, which operates it,

say that before 1993, South Bay was an abandoned warehouse in

Boston's heavily ethnic inner city.

But that year, developer Steven Samuels, who has created urban

malls throughout the nation, formed a partnership with the city

of Boston and community groups to revamp the warehouse into a

shopping center. …

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