Councilman: Rail Yard District 'next happening place in Jacksonville'

A new nonprofit is working to revitalize Jacksonville’s Rail Yard District, an area many neighbors say has long gone ignored.

The Rail Yard District is a 4.5 square-mile part of town west of Interstate 95 and north of I-10 that includes neighborhoods like Brooklyn and New Town.

Janet Tolbert has lived here her whole life, and welcomes change.

"(I'd like to see) improvement, business, more jobs," Tolbert said. "Whatever it takes to improve the community."

Wednesday evening, the Rail Yard District Business Council held its first meeting as a nonprofit.

Its goal is advocating for the area to grow it.

"(Wednesday night's meeting) is about a group of businesses getting together to try to better our neighborhood and our district," said Kara Scremin of Engine 15 Brewing Co. and The Glass Factory.

The group said the area has already been a success for local businesses.

They said nearly 350 are operating within the district, reporting nearly $3 billion in sales.

The Rail Yard District falls in City Councilman Garrett Dennis’ district.

“How are you going to bat for them to grow this area?” Action News Jax reporter Russell Colburn asked Dennis.

“Well, I’ve gone to bat,” Dennis said.  “Several of the businesses received money out of the Northwest Economic Fund, we’ve helped with rezonings, just being an advocate and a voice for this area.”

Dennis said he’s helping cut through the red tape and providing incentives to businesses to set up shop in the district.

“This is going to be the next happening place here in Jacksonville,” Dennis said.