May 2015 view of Excel Chemical Company
Between 1952 and 2015, Mixon Town’s 2385 Corbett Street was home to industry. Here, on the banks of McCoys Creek, a polluted waterway once dredged in 1930 for sport boating and barges, the Excel Chemical Company processed industrial-strength floor waxes and degreasers. Fate would soon bring Edelson and Excel together. In 2015, Edelson was in need of additional room after outgrowing his studio space at CoRK Arts District in neighboring Riverside. Around the same time, Excel had recently lost its last client and was looking to unload an aging industrial property most would have viewed as worthless, creating a match made in Heaven. The result of this connection is Mixon Studios.
During a recent tour of the property with Edelson and Sams, the transformation of the former chemical factory into a makerspace, greenspace, event venue and more is nothing short of amazing. Embracing the shared economy economic model, Mixon Studios has quickly become a place where art, industry, innovation, creativity and nature have found a way to blend seamlessly.
Anchoring the site is a production facility operated by Heather Sams’ HAS Art Solutions. For those who don’t believe art can create jobs, the 8,189-square foot production facility HAS operates would suggest otherwise. With a mission of enhancing people’s lives through art one wall, one room, one individual at a time, HAS Art Solutions is a full service art procurement firm specializing in corporate and residential installations, and custom framing.
However, unlike the manufacturing and production facilities of yesteryear, the space is designed with ultimate flexibility in mind, allowing for it to also be used for corporate events and private functions.
Jeff Edelson’s studio is located in a 5,584-square-foot prefabricated warehouse, along with 14 other spaces for artist behind the main building. Next to it, there’s a 1,000-square-foot space known as the “Coquina” building. Dating back to 1952, it was a utility building that had not been touched in decades. Recently, it has been retrofitted and is now available for rent.
Partially utilizing a former loading dock, an elevated wood deck connects these structures with what may be Mixon Studios’ most impressive space. Abutting the bulkhead of McCoys Creek, Mixon has morphed an adjacent unwanted, unmaintained and undeveloped industrial property into a concealed outdoor waterfront event space and sculpture garden in the heart of the city.
In addition, Mixon Studios is proving to be a perfect fit for its industrial neighbors in the Mixon Town/Honeymoon Yard area of the city. In recent months, HAS has utilized the industrial fabrication skills of KGS Services, a machine shop across the street, to help create ceiling sculptures for clients in the healthcare sector. By the same token, Liberty Marine Services, a ship supply business, has utilized HAS to create custom framing for clients in maritime industry.
Mixon Studios, these businesses and a host of others, are a part of a centralized wholesale district hidden in plain view that contributes hundreds of millions of dollars in local economic impact. It’s also an area where business ownerss are formally organizing in an effort to capitalize on the district’s assets and improve on infrastructure that has gone neglected for decades.
With this in mind, one could say that the transformation of Mixon Studios reveals the true essence of Jacksonville’s uniqueness and is just a microcosm of what the future may hold for this overlooked area of town.