Council bill would authorize $750,000 grant toward grocery store renovation in food desert

Rowe’s IGA Supermarket could take space of closed Harveys in Commonwealth Shopping Center.

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The City Council will consider a bill issuing a $750,000 grant to Commonwealth SDC LLC to renovate and reopen a shuttered grocery store in Northwest Jacksonville.

Rowe’s IGA Supermarkets owner Rob Rowe proposes to open in the former Harveys grocery store at 1020 Edgewood Ave. N. in the Commonwealth Shopping Center.

City Council President Scott Wilson filed Ordinance 2019-767 on Thursday by at the request of the mayor’s office.

The grant will be used by landlord Saglo Development Corp. of Miami to open the Rowe’s IGA Supermarket at the site, considered by the city to be in a food desert.

Rowe said Oct. 8 that there isn’t a full-service grocery store within 2 to 3 miles of the Edgewood Avenue shopping center. Rowe’s will offer groceries including deli, bakery, seafood and meat departments. There will not be a pharmacy.

Pending approvals, it could open by March and hire up to 90 people.

Saglo purchased the 19-acre property and 81,500-square-foot shopping center in February 2017 for $5.2 million through Commonwealth SDC, according to Duval County Property Appraiser records.

Saglo and Rowe plan $3.5 million in improvements to the 49,000-square-foot store, according to the legislation.

About $3 million will be spent on interior remodeling, fixtures, point-of-sale equipment, refrigeration cases and other upgrades. The additional $500,000 would go parking lot improvements, signage, building painting and landscaping. 

The $750,000 city portion will come from the Northwest Jacksonville Economic Development Fund earmarked to make healthy food available and affordable in food deserts.

The Office of Economic Development summary for the project says grocery operators have been hesitant to invest in the economically distressed area without assistance.

Saglo and Rowe’s must obtain a certificate of occupancy from the city before the grant is issued. The development agreement will include a clawback provision of $150,000 per year over five years to ensure the project operates as a grocery store.

The Mayor’s Budget Review Committee approved funding for the grant Oct. 7.

The Council meets at 5 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 117 W. Duval St. After a first reading, the bill will be sent to the Council Finance Committee before returning to the full Council for a final vote.