JACKSONVILLE, Fla. None - The Gateway Mall has been the beneficiary of tens of millions of taxpayer dollars over the last couple decades, but answers to questions about the mall's apparent financial troubles that now have it facing foreclosure have been hard to find.
In 1999, the state legislature approved $20 million in government incentives and tax breaks to revitalize the Gateway Mall, which included $5 million from the city of Jacksonville.
"I think it was a good decision, and hopefully through foreclosure it even gets to be a better facility with new ownership and new capital," says Mike Weinstein, a current state representative and the executive director of the Jacksonville Economic Development Committee in 1999.
Weinstein says if he had to make the same decision today, he wouldn't want to send more taxpayer money to Gateway because he says there are enough tenants and it's attractive enough to survive on its own.
Since learning of the story, WOKV has been looking for those answers. Mayor Alvin Brown directed us to general counsel Cindy Laquidara, who didn't get into much detail other than to say their next step would be to respond to the foreclosure notice.
The mall's landlord, Carlton Jones, tells our news partner channel 4 even he was surprised by the foreclosure notice.
"The added pressure just is added pressure. It's part of the process. We were a little bit surprsied and taken back on it. I did end up talking to the lender on Friday and he said that they didn't want to wait another 30 days."
No matter what happens, Jones says the shopping center will remain important because the property is too much of an asset.
"Regardless of who the owner is or who the mortgage lender is, the property survives all that. The tenants survive all that."
The issue even has a potential voice in Washington. Congresswoman Corinne Brown is livid that the government went out of its way to bail out the banks, and she tells channel 4 they're not stepping up to the plate in return.
"We helped them out. As one minister said, we showed them mercy. And they are just doing the opposite pertaining to my constituents and my community."
WOKV is trying to speak personally with Carlton Jones, but so far calls and emails have gone unanswered and we could not make contact with him yesterday when reporter Alyssa Spirato went searching for him at the Gateway Mall.