Community asked for input on 220 Riverside

Residents offer ideas for retail at Unity Plaza

By Stephen Kindland
Resident Community News

Residents can help determine what businesses will occupy 3,000 square feet of space at 220 Riverside, a progressive, residential high rise under construction along Riverside Avenue in Brooklyn that will include a 1,000-seat outdoor theater.

Jen Jones, executive director of Jacksonville Unity Plaza, the not-for-profit segment of the Hallmark Partners real estate project, says she welcomes any and all suggestions – especially ideas involving independent, locally owned retailers.

“This space is for Jacksonville,” Jones said of available space for up to four shops. “Right now, I am looking for unfiltered ideas.
“This is a no-holds-barred process,” she added. “We’re hoping to hear from all sorts of people.”

Jones said the businesses will be in addition to two “non-big box” restaurants, one of which will be a farm-to-table destination restaurant. The other will be a “chic, urban, after work hang-out,” according to information on unityplaza.com, the website people can use to submit ideas.

Construction of the $40 million project – which will include 294 apartments and an assortment of small-space businesses situated along a lake the size of a football field – is expected to be completed by next summer. However, Unity Plaza officials want to begin working with prospective businesses by late fall.

Several residents have submitted comments to the website, which also contains progress reports about 220 Riverside. Suggestions have included a coffee or ice cream shop, a fashion store, a food truck plaza and a microbrewery.

Jones, an accomplished art dealer and consultant who is intimately familiar with the Riverside/Avondale area, said she will look for common threads that will guide the decision making process.

“We’re all ears,” Jones said. “Every idea counts, and [they] are spurring meetings and development and programming ideas.”
She also said the chosen businesses will reflect 220 Riverside’s mission and vision.

“What we’re really looking to do is unify multiple cultures,” Jones said. “We want to be a catalyst for change.”

She said Unity Plaza plans to use a percentage of rent collected from residents and business owners to sponsor year-round concerts and educational programming at the state-of-the-art outdoor theater.

“It’s a guaranteed funding stream” for promotional events, Jones said. “Your business could not not be a success at Unity Plaza.”

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