Developed by Sam Morris Spevak, Paxson Shopping Center was one of Jacksonville’s early suburban plazas to challenge downtown as the city’s retail epicenter.

After serving as a lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps in Korea, Spevak returned to Jacksonville with his newlywed wife, Elaine, in 1951 and saw a market for new homes for returning veterans. They soon borrowed money to start a home-building project in North Jacksonville. Some years later, they noticed that consumerism was moving away from the downtown area and into the suburbs, providing more convenience for shoppers.

With the increasing popularity of suburban development throughout the country after World War II, a new style of shopping center would be created outside of traditional downtown borders across America. To address this retail niche in Jacksonville, the Spevaks built their first retail developments, Arlington Road’s Arlington Plaza in 1955, Paxon Shopping Center in 1958 and Norwood’s Gateway Shopping Center in 1959. A highly successful early retail developer in Jacksonville, Spevak’s projects attracted retail chains, such as Publix and G.C. Murphy, that previously had no presence in Jacksonville.

Located at Edgewood Avenue North and Broadway Avenue, early tenants at the 123,000 square foot Paxon included A&P Stores, Leibo’s Department Store, O’Steen’s Pharmacy, Economy Five & Dime Stores, Western Auto, New York Laundry and Edgewood Heights Package Store & Lounge. In a city that has witnessed many buildings being demolished over the years, all of Spevak’s early suburban shopping centers across town still survive today.

Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at Photographs courtesy of