Made in Jacksonville: Beaver Street Fisheries, Inc.July 31, 2013 6 comments Print Article
West Beaver Street is a major economic center of activity in Jacksonville that most urban core advocates tend to overlook. In our desire to expose and promote this economic asset, here is a behind-the-scenes look at one of the corridor's major employers: Beaver Street Fisheries, Inc.
Exploring the Facilities
An aerial view of the Beaver Street viaduct in 1953. The Jacksonville Farmer's Market and A&P's produce operations are on the left. On the right, A&P's Southeastern headquarters (now BSF).
Beaver Street Fisheries' Jacksonville operations occupy several blocks just north of the Beaver Street viaduct. Of interesting note, the facility dates back to the 1920s and for many years served as the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company's (A&P) Southeastern headquarters, which included a bakery, coffee plant and dry storage warehouse. A&P's produce packing operations were located in the Jacksonville Farmer's Market across the street.
In 1968, A&P moved all but their coffee plant to other facilities, mainly to a new Northside warehouse (that subsequently was occupied by Movsovitz Produce and its acquirer, Freshpoint Produce, a division also of Sysco). That same year, BSF bought the front of its existing property, Public Quick Freezing & Cold Storage, Inc.. In 1980, BSF purchased the A & P portion of the site and began using A&P's former offices in 1984. Touring the facility, the former operations of A&P can be seen, despite the addition of several new structures over the years. For example, building placement and shapes are defined by the location of old rail docks (one of which still sports A&P signage) that once ran through the property.
Furthermore, the faint scent of coffee still exists in BSF's dry storage warehouse, which was originally constructed by the Wade Farris & Wade Company in 1925. For nearly 60 years, it was utilized by A&P as a coffee roasting plant, packing under the "8 O'clock" brand. Around 1990, that operation ceased production and was consolidated into a plant in Maryland. Also, while A&P's bakery, which was built in 1932, no longer stands, the footprint of the larger 30,255 square-foot freezer that replaced it in 2000 is nearly identical. Another BSF production facility expansion in 2003 is shaped by the pattern of rail lines that once ran through the site. Lastly, the 1920s-era buildings still standing on site, the coffee plant, offices, and the unused PQF storage structure, form an L-shape that was once defined by a street intersection, which originally ran through the site.
In the future, more investment in the form of cold storage space could be on its way at BSF's West Beaver Street location. A potential location for this structure could be the 1920s Reid Brother's warehouse, once occupied by Public Quick Freezing & Cold Storage. This structure is currently not used, due to it being functionally obsolete for today's needs.
Former A&P rail docks running between BSF warehouses
Inside a warehouse formerly used by A&P as a coffee roasting plant
A look at BSF’s on-site USDA meat processing facility
Packaging lobster tails.
Packaging lobster tails.
A look inside a BSF storage freezer facility.
Established in 1979, BSF's Sea Best Brand has grown to become one of the top three seafood brands in the country.