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What do Regency Square Mall and the old Downtown courthouse have in …



A largely empty parking lot is an obvious sign of the troubles at Regency Square Mall, once Jacksonvilles premier shopping center. The mall was put up for sale earlier this month.

A largely empty parking lot is an obvious sign of the troubles at Regency Square Mall, once Jacksonville’s premier shopping center. The mall was put up for sale earlier this month.










John Burr
Editor-in-Chief- Jacksonville Business Journal

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Before the Jacksonville Jaguars came to town, and before The Avenues mall and later the St. Johns Town Center were built, Regency Square Mall was the place to shop in Northeast Florida. Now the mall is hanging on by threads, and has been put up for sale by its owners.

Where many see a 1.4 million-square-foot white elephant with bookend Sears and J.C. Penney anchor stores, we see opportunity.

The death of suburban malls has occurred across the country, for many of the same reasons that have choked off Regency: a change in the surrounding neighborhoods and stiff retail competition from newer malls in locations closer to faster-growing parts of town. There is even a website devoted to the subject, Deadmall.com, where you can read dead mall stories from around the country.

Once a mall dies, what can be done? The ideas on what to do with dying malls has varied, from splitting them into smaller retail centers, to relocating community colleges, or job training centers, or even tearing them down and planting grass and trees for a park, soccer fields and baseball diamonds.

One thing the property has going for it is location, at the intersection of Atlantic and Southside Boulevards and the Arlington Expressway. The Mathews Bridge is just down the road, and the Dames Point Bridge just a couple of miles to the north, with the Port of Jacksonville just across the river. The parcel up for sale is 110 acres, big enough for many types of uses. Logistics industry, are you paying attention here?

And speaking of location, it’s been over a year since we raised the question of what the city of Jacksonville intends to do with the site of the former Duval County Courthouse, which sits vacant except for a thriving population of rats and other vermin on the north bank of the St. Johns River, smack in the middle of Downtown. One year later and still silence from City Hall. If we wait five or six more years, we’ll have another rotting husk like the Laura Street Trio gracing our Downtown. Won’t that be fun?

Here’s an idea that won’t tax our strained city budget too badly and still allow for future development opportunities on the site: Tear down the building, spread some topsoil around, throw in a little landscaping, plant some grass and call it a park. Who knows? People might like it well enough to keep it around for a while.

Article source: http://www.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/blog/2013/08/what-do-regency-square-mall-and-the.html