It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the buildings along the main stretch of Five Points have been around for a long time.
The popular cultural center of Riverside has a lengthy history dating back nearly one hundred years. But one building, the Park Arcade Building, is often credited with setting the tone for the rest of what would become the district’s main stretch along Park Street.
The Park Arcade Building was originally constructed in 1928 in response to the area’s sudden, rapid growth. Riverside Theatre had just opened its doors one year earlier, creating buzz by being the first Jax theater to show “talkies,” and a collection of shops was quickly accruing in the surrounding area.
The Mediterranean-style building consisted of seven storefronts. Each was given a unique façade, almost creating the illusion of being entirely separate structures.
The “arcade” portion of the name comes from the succession of arches seen at its center – an older, less commonly used definition of the term.
By the ‘30s, the theater across the street had fizzled out, but a new attraction came to the Park Arcade Building itself: miniature golf. Five Points Miniature Golf Course, an indoor-outdoor mini-golf course, was built on green space behind the building. The indoor portion was housed by the Park Arcade Building.
Meanwhile, the surrounding stretch of Park Street began to fill in, following the formula first executed by Park Arcade Building. Over twenty businesses opened up shop along Park Street, creating somewhat of a mini-town center.
The mini-golf craze died down eventually, but businesses would continue to cycle in and out of Park Arcade.
Unlike many other Jax Evolved buildings, Park Arcade Building has never had any significant stretches of time where it wasn’t in use. It also hasn’t changed a whole lot from its original purpose.
However, the culture of the building – and Five Points as a whole – would see a significant shift starting in the late ‘70s.
Around that time, a smoke shop called Edge City was purchased by salesman Tom McCleery and transformed into an alternative boutique shop. The change was successful and began drawing in a new crowd to Five Points: hip, young, artistic-minded residents who had previously been seen as outcasts in the city.
The area began to change rapidly to fit this new crowd, turning Five Points into the cultural hub it is today.
While McCleery passed away in 2016, Edge City remains a tenant in the building – by far its longest-lasting tenant.
Other current tenants include BARK on Park, Crane Ramen, Escape Restaurant and Bar, 8th Day Tattoo, and Jane Doe Boutique. There are currently two vacant storefronts.
It will be exciting to see how the building – and Five Points at-large – continue to grow and evolve over the coming years. No matter what, it seems safe to say that the Park Arcade Building is here to stay.