The transformation of the former John Gorrie Junior High School to The John Gorrie a condominium may be just what the doctor ordered for the continued revitalization of the Riverside Avondale neighborhood.
Since the renovation started a few years ago, the area has seen new businesses pop up on all sides.
The condominium is at the corner of Jacksonville’s College and Stockton streets near I-10. It has been an area that has deteriorated over the years as residents have moved away, many toward the St. Johns River about six blocks away.
An industrial area between the building and the interstate also had gone down as businesses moved.
In recent years, with projects like the Gorrie and the revitalization of nearby King Street, things are happening.
A notable and visible example is a strip shipping center across Stockton Street from Gorrie. Once almost totally abandoned, it now has an eclectic group of retail businesses which appear to be thriving.
A new Gate station is around the corner and the industrial area now is thriving with two breweries and a warehouse that has become an artists’ workplace.
What this means, of course, is that Gorrie residents don’t have to venture all the way into Five Points to shop.
“I quickly became acclimated to the local lifestyle,” said resident Elizabeth McMullen. “Instead of going to chain restaurants and stores, I am first drawn to support the local boutiques and cafes. I want my neighborhood to flourish, and I know that I have a role in making that happen.”
The building itself is a major addition. It was a major junior high school many years ago when the Riverside area was one of the city’s high-end places to live.
(Dr. John Gorrie was a Scot who moved to West Florida to continue his research into tropical diseases. As part of that research, he believed that cold air could help get rid of various diseases and invented the ice maker. That invention led directly to the invention of air conditioning.)
The Gorrie school was abandoned by the school system and sat empty for years before Delores Weaver, wife of then-Jaguar owner Wayne Weaver, saw the potential. The Weavers bought the building and turned the offices and classrooms into 68 living units.
There’s also a fitness center, elevators, private gated parking and a resident reading room with Wi-Fi internet access.