Future of Lakeside corner finally revealed

Future of Lakeside corner finally revealed
John Williams, Bill Mosher and Chris King at the site of the former All-Weather Tire Company, now a sales office for a river cruise rental business.

For months, passersby have been teased by a series of signs advertising some pretty outlandish businesses coming to the corner of San Juan Avenue and Herschel Street, the former site of a gas station and tire company owned by the Thebaut family.

John Williams, who purchased the 0.34-acre property at 4323 Herschel St. in May, immediately began improving the 54-year-
old structure without altering its footprint, but declined to share details at that time.

The first notice to appear was a hand-
painted sign touting an 18-hole golf course and driving range, among other hard-to-believe amenities, the tamest of which included tax advice, tattoos and flying lessons. Next, a message board was installed with a notice for an hourly-rate motel.

According to Chris King, prankster behind the signs, inquiries came in from far and wide for the “Avondale Golf and Country Club.” Unfortunately, he published a legitimate phone number belonging to one of Williams’ daughters. “She got phone calls from all over the country, at all times of day and night,” chuckled King, who is a long-time employee of Lamb’s Yacht Center, owned by the Williams family.

Last month, King began to tease locals again with a few well-placed letters, similar to the Hangman word game, but finally he relented and posted a notice for Classic River Cruises.

“It’s the real deal,” said Williams, who has four Huckins yachts available for charter, complete with a crew, as well as four smaller fishing boats for half-day rentals. His daughters, Maggie Peyton and Murphy Williams, who manage the rental office currently located at Lamb’s, will move operations to the station by end of year. “This location will give us more visibility,” Williams said.

Williams, who hired Bill Mosher to spruce up the old gas station inside and out, only has one change planned for the parking lot. “We’re going to convert an old light fixture to a destination totem pole,” he said. Old lumber from wood docks undergoing renovation at Lamb’s will be used to create the totem pole. “You can paint your own destination on a slat and we’ll hang it,” added King.

Much of the history of the former All-Weather Tire Company is being preserved, said Williams, who pointed out a set of tire tracks and a hole in the wall from the time when a vehicle came careening off San Juan. It ploughed through the plate glass window and into Barbara Thebaut, who was sitting behind a desk, pushing her chair against the wall. Thankfully, Thebaut was not injured.

Williams said this niche business fills a void in Jacksonville, allowing non-boat-owning residents to experience the St. Johns River and see the city from a different perspective.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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