Neighbors believe that once opened, The Corner at Debs Store will help people improve their health and also help with long-term growth through the career center.

Author: Atyia Collins, First Coast News (On Your Side)

Published: 6:15 PM EDT March 25, 2024

Updated: 6:17 PM EDT March 25, 2024

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Construction on a historic community store is underway, expected to breathe new life into an Eastside food desert by summertime.

Neighbors told First Coast News that once The Corner at Debs Store is open, it will provide a much-needed resource in an area that is considered a food desert. It’s set to open on the corner of Florida Avenue and E. 5th Street.

“Old Debs, I use to go there for my great grandmother and my grandmother,” said third-generation Eastside resident John Williams Jr.

Williams said years ago, residents only had to walk a couple blocks to find fresh produce and meat. 

That all changed in 2011 when the original Debs Store closed.

“There’s nowhere to go around here, that’s what we need in this neighborhood,” Williams said.

“I go to Harveys but I don’t really want to go to Harveys because I stay in the neighborhood, and it’s too far. So Debs would be the perfect spot,” Henry McCulla, an Eastside resident, said.

Located in Eastside, the 5,000-square-foot building will be managed by Goodwill Industries of North Florida. The first floor will house the 1,800-square-foot community market and a Goodwill GoodCareers Center will occupy the second floor, bringing employment and job training for Debs Store neighbors.

Williams said these resources will not only help people improve their health in the short term but also help with long-term growth.

“Most people around here on a fixed income, so we need help…I want it to open, I need it for my people around here,” Williams said.

Officials say the grocery store is on track to open at the end of the summer. 

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