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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Oct. 8, 201905:20 AM EST

Rowe’s plans expansion into old Harveys, Winn-Dixie locations

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The Commonwealth Village store on Edgewood could receive a $750,000 city grant for a food desert project.

Jacksonville independent supermarket veteran Rob Rowe is considering two more stores, one in Northwest Jacksonville and another in Baymeadows.

Both are in former Southeastern Grocers Inc. stores.

Southeastern Grocers closed those two, along with more, in spring 2018 as it restructured under bankruptcy laws.

The Northwest Jacksonville store at 1020 Edgewood Ave. N. in Commonwealth Shopping Center is a former Harveys, a banner of Southeastern Grocers.

The city Office of Economic Development wants to provide landlord Saglo Development Corp. a $750,000 grant to open a Rowe’s IGA Supermarket at the site to serve customers in a food desert. 

The Mayor’s Budget Review Committee on Monday approved the request, which means the deal will need to be completed and approved by City Council.

The money comes from $3 million in the Northwest Jacksonville Economic Development Fund earmarked to make healthy food available and affordable in food deserts.

The vacant Harveys space at 1020 Edgewood Ave. N. in Northwest Jacksonville could become a Rowe's IGA.

Miami-based Saglo and Rowe plan a $3.5 million renovation of the 49,000-square-foot Harveys store, parking lot, signage and landscaping.

The location once was a SaveRite, a division of  Jacksonville-based Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. that focused on low prices. Rowe was the SaveRite executive behind it.

“That was the first one I opened in Jacksonville. It was a store that Winn-Dixie had and we converted it to SaveRite with lower prices, to give people in the neighborhood what they want,” Rowe said Monday.

Winn-Dixie later became a banner of Southeastern Grocers.

Rowe said there isn’t a full-service grocery store within 2 to 3 miles of the location. “Definitely they need a store in that area,” he said. 

Rowe’s will offer groceries including deli, bakery, seafood and meat departments. There will not be a pharmacy.

He said the store is in bad shape and will require work. Rowe said he would open it if Saglo obtains the grant.

He anticipates a $5 million total investment. He expects the landlord will spend $1 million and he will put up the remaining $4 million or more.

“It’s going to be expensive to open,” he said. Pending approvals, it could open by March and hire up to 90 people.

When Southeastern Grocers said in April 2018 it would close that store and others, Rowe said he was not pursuing the Edgewood Avenue location.

When the landlord said it would apply for the city grant, “I said we’d take a look at it.”

The Baymeadows store is a former Winn-Dixie that Rowe bought in February for $3.7 million.

The 58,000-square-foot store at 9866 Baymeadows Road was built in 1986 and closed as part of the Southeastern Grocers bankruptcy restructuring.

Rowe said when he bought the property that he was assessing what to do with it.

Rowe said Monday he decided to open the Baymeadows store and is “getting everything started.”

Rowe expects to open in the first quarter next year. Like other Rowe’s stores, it will be full-service but without a pharmacy.

He expects to invest another several million dollars into the store and hire at least 90 people.

Rowe owns Rowe’s IGA Supermarkets, which operates five stores in west, northwest, north and south Jacksonville and in Orange Park.

The stores are at 8595 Beach Blvd., 5435 Blanding Blvd., 6765 Dunn Ave., 8299 W. Beaver St. and at 1670 Wells Road in Orange Park.

The Dunn Avenue and Beaver Street stores are several miles from the Edgewood Avenue location.

The IGA brand serves independent grocery chains.

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