The City and Mr. Jones

Developer Milton Jones confronts Sistrunk's segregation-induced funk

Charles Dean has lived along the Sistrunk corridor all of his 60 years, and currently resides with his mother on NW Eighth Avenue. Clad in a T-shirt depicting African-American leaders, Dean waited one recent afternoon for laundry to dry at the Wash-O-Mat on the corner of Sistrunk and NW Seventh Avenue -- a stone's throw from the shopping center's proposed location. He is wary of the plans. "We need grocery stores and places to shop," he says. "We shouldn't have to go to white areas for everything.... [But] we don't need no more [apartments]; those over there are enough," he says, pointing to Regal Trace. He adds that he's tired of seeing partly built structures stand unfinished along Sistrunk Boulevard, and thinks it's a sign that redevelopment is an empty promise. Moreover he recalls how he's seen the area deteriorate. His tired eyes, which brighten momentarily at the thought of the proposed new supermarket, again dim as he laments, "This was a good living area at one time."

Goods and services or gentrification? The future site of Milton Jones Jr.'s proposed shopping center in northwest Fort Lauderdale
Joshua Prezant
Goods and services or gentrification? The future site of Milton Jones Jr.'s proposed shopping center in northwest Fort Lauderdale

Milton Jones believes the area can be restored to its past glory. Once the shopping center contract is signed, he will start recruiting investors in earnest. He's confident his success with Regal Trace proves he can make the shopping center a reality. "We'll have to work as hard again, but I can do it," he says. "No one had a track record here before me. I've already done the grunt work."

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