An Eastern Market grocery cart sits across the street at the site of the old Shell gas station.
The last decade has been an economic rollercoaster ride for Northwest 13th Street. New retailers forced original businesses to close their doors, a cycle that has continued until 2013.
Over the past two years, the area has become a popular destination for businesses. Burlington Coat Factory, Big Lots and Lucky’s Market are now located on the street, with a Ross Dress For Less set to open in March, and a Rooms To Go later this year.
Erik Bredfeldt, Gainesville’s director of Economic Development and Innovation, said the demographics of the region could be one reason why businesses find the area appealing, especially because they tend to look for nearby households with relatively strong disposable incomes.
The 2010 census released by the U.S. Census Bureau showed that the 60.3 percent of households around Northwest 13th Street and Northwest 23rd Avenue were families.
More than 55 percent of people had management, professional and related occupations. The largest income bracket (18.7 percent of the population) made $50,000 to $75,000, according to the American Community Survey.
Lucky’s Market, a franchised grocery store that originated in Colorado, is the most recent addition to the area, moving into what was once a Pic ‘N’ Save.
Garris Matthews, director of the Gainesville location, said the demographics are one of the primary reasons why the company chose its location.
“The reason that we pick these types of locations [college areas] is that we know the shopper, and people, are educated,” Matthews said. “They know the food they buy from us affects their bodies. It’s good for us. ”
Bredfeldt also cited the recovery of the U.S. economy as another influential factor.
“That’s basically added to the arrival of some more business enterprises in that corridor,” Bredfeldt said.
Betsy Whitaker, president of Asset Management Inc., said the revitalization along Northwest 13th Street creates more consumer options, makes good use of the land by recycling old buildings and vacant lots, and allows residents to avoid the hassle of navigating the traffic of Archer Road.
Whitaker’s company is responsible for bringing Verizon Wireless, Lowe’s Home Improvement and Lucky’s to the area. But, she said it was no easy feat convincing retailers.
Lowe’s Home Improvement rejected the offer three times before accepting its spot on 2564 NW 13th Street
“It took me working through a lot of noes,” she said.
Victoria Van Popering, a Gainesville native and retired nurse, remembers the site before improvements.
“It was sort of dreadful,” Van Popering said, while shopping at Lucky’s. Van Popering used to frequent the Pic ‘N’ Save when it was in businesses 20 years ago.
“I think it’s very cool [the improvements] since I live nearby,” Van Popering said.
Whitaker said Gainesvillians can expect more future retailers, like Ross, Rooms to Go and the future shopping center where the old Shell Station used to be.
“I am the one who doesn’t give up on 13th street,” she said.