Neighborhoods: Commonwealth

June 29, 2011 5 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Commonwealth is home to Jacksonville's densest collection of heavy industrial, manufacturing and distribution operations. Join Metro Jacksonville as we explore this Westside neighborhood and learn about many of the companies that call it home.

About Commonwealth

Before the popularity of the automobile, the Commonwealth section of town was primarily rural and scattered with World War II Auxillary Airfields.  Just east of Edgewood and now the site of Paxon School for Advanced Studies was the location of Jacksonville's first airfield (with the exception of the beaches), dating back to the early 1920s.  Paxon Field was the infamous location of the 1926 plane accident that killed Bessie Coleman (the world's first licensed black pilot).  The Navy used the (grass) airfield for training during World War II, but eventually declared the site excess in January 1947.

The short lived Hart Field was a brief distance away, near the intersection of Lane and Commonwealth Avenues.  This grass airfield was established by the Navy in 1942 for support flight training operations in the Jacksonville area before being shut down nine months later.  After serving as a civilian airport, Hart Field was abandoned at some point between 1945 and 1956.  During this same time period, Commonwealth began to gain in popularity as replacement location for heavy industry that was being moved out of the downtown Jacksonville area by the Haydon Burns administration's desire to clean up the urban waterfront.

Today, although Jacksonville may not be a manufacturing Mecca, Commonwealth's proximity to interstate highways and railroads makes this neighborhood about as industrial as it gets for a Florida community.

A. Levin & Company junkyard at the intersection of Commonwealth Boulevard and Land Avenue during the 1950s. WW2 Hart Field's hanger can be seen in the background.

An aerial of Beaver and Lane Streets in 1955.

View looking west toward Beaver Street from Lane Avenue in 1955.

Intersection of Edgewood and Broadway Avenue in 1957.

Inside a Dixie Supermarket on Edgewood Avenue during the mid 1950s.

Complete Streets

The streets of Commonwealth present a good illustration of what Jacksonville lacks in terms of designing our streets for all modes of transportation.

Assuming streets have sidewalks, most that do only have them on one side of the street.  In this Lewis Industrial Drive scene, bus stop is a patch of dirt and a sign on the opposite side of the street from sidewalk.

By focusing too much on designing the Right-of-Way for roads, a sidewalk with a minimum width of five feet was provided along the property line.  With the addition of a bus stop, this 12th Street sidewalk is now non-ADA compliant.

Street trees are one of the most important elements of pedestrian friendly design within an urban streetscape.  However, what has become the norm in Jacksonville, is the placement of useless street trees in medians while totally ignoring the installation of them along the sidewalks as an amenity of comfort for the pedestrian and mass transit user.

Commonwealth is filled with wide streets designed for the automobile at the expense of other modes of transportation.  Edgewood Avenue is an example of a street where bicycle lanes could easily be accommodated with the addition of white paint along the outside lanes.

North (North of Commonwealth Avenue)

The Ice Man manufactures 150 tons of ice a day at its brand new, state of the art facility on Commonwealth Avenue.  According to their website, plant tours are always welcome.

Sysco Food Service's West Jacksonville distribution center will have 696,000-square-feet at buildout.

Sysco Food Services of Jacksonville has been working on plans for a major expansion of its West Jacksonville distribution center that would create 125 jobs, and the city wants to help.

Sysco occupies a 236,000-square-foot center at 1501 Lewis Industrial Drive, and plans show that it wants to add a 256,000-square-foot expansion in a second phase and another 204,000 square feet in a third phase. That information recently was filed with the city.

That plan would create a 696,000-square-foot distribution center.

It also would expand its existing estimated 525-job workforce by 125 jobs, said Joe Whitaker, senior project manager at the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission.

Featuring a 152-foot silo, the Dupuy Silo facility opened in 2005.  Dupuy stores as much as 54 different types of raw coffee beans that it blends (up to 400 million pounds annually) for downtown Jacksonville's Maxwell House Coffee Company.

Anheuser-Busch's Metal Container Corporation (MCC) manufactures beer cans for the Northside's Anheuser-Busch brewery.  Constructed in 1974, the Jacksonville plant is the oldest in the MCC network.
Metal Container Corp. supplies more than 45 percent of Anheuser-Busch’s U.S. beer cans and 55 percent of its domestic lids.  The operation also produces cans and lids for major U.S. soft drink companies including PepsiCo, Coca-Cola and Hansen Natural Corp.  Can plants are located in Arnold, Mo., Jacksonville, Fla., Mira Loma, Calif., Newburgh, N.Y. and Windsor, Colo.  Lid plants are in Oklahoma City, Okla. and Riverside, Calif.

Premier Beverage is a leading distributor of fine wines and spirits in Florida.
Premier Beverage is one of the largest distributors of wines, spirits and other beverages in Florida. We represent some of the most valuable and well-known consumer brands in the world. The company serves the wine, spirits and other beverage needs of customers throughout Florida from distribution facilities in Pensacola, Jacksonville, Orlando, Miramar, and our new state-of-the-art facility in Tampa. Us/Pages/AboutUs.aspx

IFF International Flavors & Fragrances is leading creator and manufacturer of flavors and fragrances with sales, manufacturing and creative facilities in 30 countries worldwide.  The North Lane Avenue location is one of eight United States manufacturing plants.

A tank car in the distance at US Ink Corporation's Shawland Road plant.  The company produces ink for newsprint use.

Westinghouse Lighting Corporation's Jacksonville distribution center is one of two the company operates in the United States.  Headquartered in Philadelphia, Westinghouse develops or distributes products in 100 countries, spanning five continents.

Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. former 573,884-square-foot Commonwealth Avenue distribution center.  Winn-Dixie rejected this property's lease to save money after operations at this location were relocated to the new massive distribution complex along I-10 near Baldwin.  In 2010, this property was leased to Football Fanatics, a sports-apparel retailer with stores in Avenues and Orange Park Malls.

Central (Commonwealth to Beaver Street)

An intact WW2-era hangar, at the corner of Lane and Commonwealth Avenues, is all that remains from Hart NOLF/Hart Field.
This former airfield had an extremely short life in its original role as a military airfield. According to Army Corps of Engineers documents (courtesy of Brian Rehwinkel), the Navy acquired 220 acres by lease for Hart Outlying Field in early 1942.

The Naval Air Advanced Training Command developed the site and used it to support flight training operations in the Jacksonville area.  Only nine months later, in November 1942, the Navy terminated the lease & returned the land to the owners. After the Navy left, the field was apparently reused as a civilian airport for several years.

Looking towards I-295 while traveling west along Commonwealth Avenue in the vicinity of former Hart Field.

Hot Box Enclosures' Jacksonville location on Lane Avenue.
Hot Box has been designing and manufacturing water equipment enclosures since 1986. We originated as a design arm of an industrial insulation contracting company in Jacksonville, FL. We have since grown to be the largest designer/manufacturer of backflow equipment enclosures in the U.S.


Headquarted in Jacksonville, FL, Hot Box markets nationally through a network of manufacturer's representatives and wholesale distributors. Enclosures are designed and manufactured out of both aluminum and fiberglass, are generally insulated with polyisocyanurate foam and are often heated.

Enclosures are manufactured for the irrigation, plumbing, fire, water/wastewater and utility markets.

In 1996, the Florida Wire and Cable plant on Lane Avenue operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week, making $100 million worth of specialized coated steel products used in things like bridges, high-rise buildings and concrete railroad ties. In 2001, 18 months after purchasing the plant, Mount Airy, N.C.-based Insteel Industries, Inc. shut down, eliminating 128 employees in the process.  Jax Terminal purchased the 16-acre, 287,000-square-foot complex in 2002 and leases its nine buildings to several smaller industrial tenants.

Adcom Wire Company, near the intersection of Lane and Commonwealth Avenues, employs around 120 and makes wire for bed springs and other uses.

South (Beaver Street to I-10)

Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc.'s 180,000-square-foot headquarters on Edgewood Avenue.

Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc.
Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. (NASDAQ: WINN) is an American supermarket chain based in Jacksonville, Florida. Winn-Dixie has ranked number 24 in the 2010 "Top 75 North American Food Retailers" based on 2009 fiscal year estimated sales of $7.3 billion by Supermarket News.[1] and was ranked the 43rd largest retailer in the United States based on 2006 revenues by Stores magazine.[2] Winn-Dixie currently operates 485 stores in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, and Mississippi. The company has existed under its present name since 1955 and can date its roots back to 1925.

Prior to filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2005, Winn-Dixie was listed in the S&P 500 and had been traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "WIN" since February 18, 1952. The company is currently traded under the symbol "WINN" on the NASDAQ. The bankruptcy also left the chain with fewer stores than it had in the late 1960s.

They are known for their private label Chek brand soft drinks, which are produced in over 20 different flavors plus diet and caffeine-free varieties—one of the widest assortments. They have also been known as "The Beef People". In its advertising and print media Winn-Dixie now uses the brand promises of "Fresh Checked Every Day" in its Jacksonville DMA, "Getting Better All The Time" in its locations in Central Florida, "El Sabor De Tu Pais", or "The Flavor Of Your Country", in its Miami area stores, and "Local Flavor Since 1956" in its Louisiana area stores.

Winn-Dixie's general merchandising warehouse is located just south of Beaver Street, on Edgewood Court.
When completed, the company will move its processing, warehouse and distribution facilities on Edgewood Court and Commonwealth Avenue into the new center, which will include a grocery warehouse, refrigerated warehouse, maintenance yard, offices and garage.

About 700 employees will make the move, Keating said. The company also plans to hire 250 new employees at an average annual wage of more than $30,000.

Richard Darby, advisory committee chairman, said the community is gratified the company made that decision. It means jobs will remain on the Westside, and it will be a further economic boost because additional employees will be hired, Darby said.

"That's a great increase in the economy, and I have to look at that as being the Westside economy," added Carl Moore Jr., the advisory committee's economic development chairman.

The company said it lost some warehouse space with the $20 million refurbishing and expansion of its corporate headquarters on Edgewood Court. In addition, it needed more warehouse space to accommodate its new, larger supermarkets.

Meanwhile, the Commonwealth facility will be converted into a general merchandising warehouse for items such as health and beauty aids.
Source: Food chain beefs up on Westside New stores opening; warehouse planned - The Florida Times-Union - Saturday, March 13, 1999

O'neal Steel is the nation's largest family-owned metals service center.

Wamsley Road's Reichhold operations is one of the company's eight manufacturing plants in the United States.
Reichhold is one of the world's largest suppliers of unsaturated polyester resins for composites and a leading supplier of coating resins for a wide variety of markets and applications.

With its world headquarters in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, USA, and 19 manufacturing sites and 4 technology centers located around the world, Reichhold has the widest global reach of any resin supplier today.

Dixie Egg Company is the marketing arm for FOODONICS with an annual distribution of 20,000,000 dozen eggs.  Dixie Egg's Edgewood Court's location serves as the home base to FOODONICS International employees and operates as a warehousing and distribution center for all Florida based customers.
From Dixie Egg's Corporate headquarters in Jacksonville, FL, we operate a production, warehouse and distribution network that primarily services Florida, Southern Georgia and a variety of locations around the globe.

In the 1930's Jacob Klempf traversed the farmlands of Wisconsin to collect eggs from farmer's wives and, in turn, provide them with their precious, and often clandestine, "egg money."

Two generations later, Dixie Egg Company is in the learned hands of Jacques Klempf, at the helm since 1984.  Under the tutelage of his father and a marketing degree from FSU, Jacques has fine-tuned the rock solid business parctices that have been Dixie Egg's reputation for as long as Humpty Dumpty has graced their cartons (1948).

The Ellis Road Canam Steel Corporation plant makes steel bars and joists that are used in the construction of buildings ranging from sports arenas to apartment buildings. The 240 employees work rotating shifts at the plant, a large tent-like structure where steel goes from one end to the other in assembly-line fashion.
Canam produces United Steel Deck products in South Plainfield, NJ, Peru, IL, and Jacksonville, FL. The original Canam deck product line is still produced in Jacksonville, FL and Sunnyside, WA. Steel deck was developed to provide a structurally efficient product for use in roof and floor systems. Its design and fabrication maximizes the properties of the steel in order to create a high strength-to-weight ratio,
which lowers the material, handling, and erection costs but maintains the durability that has been proven by over 70 years of satisfactory performance.

Employing 600, the Colomer Group's Jacksonville operations is the largest of the Spanish company's four manufacturing facilities and a hub for research and distribution.  The others are located in Barcelona, Spain; Bologna, Italy and Queretaro, Mexico.  Colomer produces cosmetics, perfumes, and hair products.  Colomer's products include such labels as American Crew, Framesi and Abba.  Colomer's Jacksonville operations began as Roux Laboratories in 1974.  In 2000, Colomer acquired the local division when it purchased Revlon Professional Product's Worldwide division.
The history of Colomer is a fascinating journey through the dreams of its creator, Jose Colomer. An adventure that began almost a century ago, and today is as alive as ever.

Jose Colomer began his journey into the world of beauty in 1923 while living in Paris. Jose developed his skills as a stylist, and in 1931 he was awarded first prize in an international hair show.

In 1933 he moved back to his home in Barcelona and began a distribution company featuring the prestigious hair products he used in France.

In 1943 Jose started Colomer Ltd. and opened his first manufacturing plant. He was a pioneer in the manufacture of many innovative products such as perms,wet wipes aerosols and tanning products.

By 1961 he had supported the development of over 40,000 salons in Europe. He had also opened two more manufacturing sites by this time for a total of three manufacturing plants.

Jose was a major supporter of stylists by investing in education and training centers throughout Europe.

Jose's son, Carlos, joined the company in the 1966, and in 1978 Revlon bought Colomer. Carlos continued on with Revlon. In 1981 Carlos was appointed the Chairman of Revlon’s Professional Product Division.

In 2000 the Colomer family together with an investor bought back the professional products division from Revlon, and The Colomer Group was born.

FedEx Feight's Fox Street

Commonwealth is located just NE of the I-295/I-10 interchange and is generally bounded by I-295 (west), I-10 (south), Edgewood Avenue (east) and the CSX Railroad (north).

Article by Ennis Davis