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A Fresh Market worker separates store keys into plastic bags for employees. The new store opens Wednesday.
Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Sep. 23, 201412:00 PM EST

Long-awaited Fresh Market in Brooklyn opens Wednesday

by: Carole Hawkins

Downtown revitalization smells like freshly baked bread.

That’s the first impression walking through the doors of Fresh Market, the high-end, fresh food store at 150 Riverside Ave.

The urban core’s newest grocery store opens Wednesday as the anchor tenant at Brooklyn Station. It’s the first retailer to occupy the highly anticipated 50,000-square-foot shopping center near the historic neighborhood of Riverside.

“Fresh Market fills a void in the area for a specialty grocer,” said Patrick McKinley, senior leasing agent for Regency Centers, the shopping center’s developer. Industry peers Earth Fare and Whole Foods Market are 13 miles to the east and 19 miles to the south, respectively.

It’s not just healthy grocers that are lacking in the area, but grocers in general.

“There’s not a whole lot of competition right now,” Fresh Market store manager Mahir Zelihic said of the location. “There’s Publix right up the street, but in the other direction, not a lot until you get all the way to University Boulevard. Also, this is an up-and-coming area with a lot of development.”

He’s referring to more than 600 new apartments coming online within the next six months, between 220 Riverside, a mixed-use apartment complex immediately to the south, and Brooklyn Riverside apartments to the west. That’s in addition to the redevelopment of historic homes in Riverside.

It’s an old urban planning mantra that retail follows rooftops, and Brooklyn Station is the first fruit of residential “rooftop” development near Downtown.

In addition to Fresh Market, seven other retailers have signed contracts for stores at Brooklyn Station, McKinley said. Talks are progressing with other prospective tenants.

Here’s who’s coming so far:

Wednesday: Fresh Market, which brands itself as “fresh food at a reasonable value,” specializes in all-natural, organic and specialty products, from coffees and candy to floral arrangements, meat and produce. Its expansive deli selection includes a large selection of cheeses and deli meats, as well as soup, salads, sandwiches and wraps. Brooklyn Station will be the chain’s fourth store in Northeast Florida.

December: Corner Bakery is a fast-casual restaurant known for its ingredient-inspired menu and neighborhood cafe atmosphere.

March: BurgerFi, which serves “handcrafted” burgers and hot dogs, fries, shakes, beer and wine, will occupy a 3,000 square-foot space.

April: Zoës Kitchen, serving Mediterranean fare, is relocating from Riverside for a more visible location, better parking and to add an outdoor seating area.

Summer: Burrito Gallery, which recently announced it would open franchises, has developed a 3,500-square-foot design that will include a bar, outdoor seating and a rooftop patio.

Also committed to the location are Lucy’s Gift Boutique, a local niche women’s boutique; Hair Cuttery; and a Navy Federal Credit Union branch.

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