JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A fire destroyed a portion of a local shopping plaza and now the plans to rebuild it are dividing a historic community.
After five years in Riverside’s Five Points, Wasabi Buffet burned to the ground. It was a devastating blow for the owners. Flames leaped from one structure to the next, damaging Firehouse Subs next door. Five months later, folks on Forbes Street are ready to eradicate the eyesore.
A local developer has his sights set on a revitalized Five Points Village. Retail Properties, Inc. wants to improve its strip mall but some in the community are concerned.
"People love the neighborhood, they love the historic character of the neighborhood,” said Sally Suslak.
Suslak fears the historical identity on Forbes Street will be compromised. The Riverside-Avondale Preservation society proposed a change: rebuild retail space along Margaret Street instead of just a few feet from the houses. “If the property were moved to closer to the street then there would be a better buffer between the residential homes right here and the commercial."
The historical society says moving businesses streetside would help walkers in Riverside get from Post Street to Riverside Park.
“There's always people walking their dogs and riding their bikes and going to the park," said Riverside resident Tara Carlisle.
Now the community waits and watches to see how the burned-down building is resurrected from the ashes.
Action News contacted the developer to see if it would consider a new proposal but our calls were not returned Friday.