Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Faith, Funds May Revive Gateway

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Faith, Funds May Revive Gateway

Article excerpt

Being a minister and a developer should come in handy for

Carlton Jones these days. His latest project, Gateway

Marketplace, needs faith, as well as funds, for its revival.

Building that faith has been tough.

Some people would just as soon seal the fate of the 38year-old

shopping center as an economic and aesthetic graveyard, said

Jones, whose Renaissance Design Build Group of Jacksonville Inc.

is spearheading the center's revitalization.

"People have asked me why would I even associate myself with

it," the ordained minister said. "Some people have even said it

ought to be a parking lot, or a place for storing heavy

equipment since it is near Talleyrand [a shipping area]."

But the numbers show that the communities that surround Gateway

in Northwest Jacksonville are still very much alive.

About 209,000 residents live within 5 miles of the center,

which is between Norwood Avenue and Interstate 95. They earn a

median yearly income of $34,000, he said.

And a whole lot of them are tired of having to drive across the

Mathews Bridge just to catch a movie.

"What you have here are 200,000 families within a short

distance that need services," Jones said. "All you need to bring

them those services is a group of people who care."

So far, Jones has been working on the caring component. The

center began to decline in the late 1980s, when most of its

anchor stores moved out. In 1992, JCPenney became the last

anchor to leave.

But the center's former owners, the Canadian-based Bramlea

Inc., hadn't done much to breathe life into it either, to make

people want to shop there. The remodeling that the center

underwent in 1985 was minor. And it spoke volumes about the lack

of attention, and the lack of faith, that was being given to

people in that area, Jones said.

"This building still has the same roof, the same

airconditioning that it had in 1959," Jones said. "They

[Bramlea] just dressed it up a bit. Put some gingerbread on it."

Also, Jones is working with people who have roots in that

community. …

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