Dear Call Box: I’ve got a question about the old shipyards. I’ve noticed that there’s been a crew down there for a number of months doing some work. I’m just wondering what it’s all about. It looks like they are reinforcing one of the old piers from the shipyards. Sometimes I’ll see two or three cranes there, but there’s always at least one.
Dear D.P.: The crew is rebuilding Coastline Drive and Liberty Street after chunks of Liberty built on piers collapsed into the St. Johns River in 2012 and 2015. The $31 million project also involves tearing out the parking deck behind the old county courthouse, Times-Union reporter David Bauerlein reported in February.
The parking deck won’t be replaced, so that portion of the riverfront will be like an inlet. It will give a new look for the Northbank Riverwalk between the Hyatt Regency hotel and Berkman Plaza, according to Bauerlein.
Much of the recent work has involved installing sheet piles in front of the Hyatt Regency and the new Coastline Drive bridge.
City spokeswoman Tia Ford provided the following estimated construction timeline:
Bulkhead Replacement at Coastline Drive: fall 2017
Liberty Street bridge demolition: early 2018
Liberty Street bridge reconstruction: fall 2018
Coastline bridge reconstruction: spring 2018
Courthouse parking deck structure demolition: early 2018
Riverwalk construction: summer 2018
The Riverwalk will be rerouted around the area with open water where the parking deck now stands.
Dear Call Box: We have a refrigerator that didn’t make it through the storm, and I want to put it out to the curb. But I need to know when it will be picked up.
Dear P.C.: To schedule pickup of large appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, stoves, water heaters and air conditioners, call (904) 630-CITY (2489). Put your refrigerator curbside without blocking the roadway or storm drains. Remove food and other materials. For safety reasons, remove the door or tape it shut. Make sure it is at least 3 feet from poles, fire hydrants or other obstacles. Major appliances are prohibited by law in landfills and therefore are collected separately from household garbage, according to the city’s Solid Waste Division website.
Update: Linda Wilkinson called to say she was familiar with the New Windmill and New Embassy supper clubs, which were the subject of a recent Call Box column.
“The Embassy was a beautiful place which used to get fantastic floor shows and top-name entertainers on their way to Miami,” she said of the club, which gave its address in city directories as 3 miles out Beach Road.
Wilkinson occasionally went to the Embassy and a third club called the Peacock in the late 1940s when she was a student at Lee High School. The Embassy had a nice dancing floor and was “the queen of the clubs,” she said. The Peacock, on Philips Highway just north of Emerson Street, was a very nice club as well, Wilkinson said. It later became a restaurant.
Much later, she learned the Embassy, and probably the Peacock, had large gambling rooms in the back. But she never knew that at the time.
As for the Windmill, she only went there once out of curiosity, but found it too risque to go back. It was about 6 miles out U.S. 1. In its directory ad, it advertised “other entertaining features.”
None of the clubs asked for IDs, she said.
Another update: Cookie Davis said she spent many nights at the Saki Shop, another Call Box subject. She was best friends with Loretta Schill, the first wife of Art Schill, a member of the Folksters who frequently performed there. The Saki Shop was at 4725 San Jose Blvd., now the site of Calico Corners, a fabric store.
“It was always a fun-filled room,” Davis said. “The lounge show was very intimate. There was lots of music, humor and good times.”
She even lived with the Schills for a year after Loretta, who is now dead, broke her legs in an accident.
Schill, who played the guitar, ukulele and banjo and was a painter and sculptor, also frequently played the Tradewinds in St. Augustine. Schill died in 2007.
Ironically, the Saki Shop site was once a boarding house, and Davis said her parents lived there in the early 1930s before buying a house in Neptune Beach. San Jose was a two-lane road then, Davis said, and the house was set back from the road. Her parents lived upstairs. Still, whenever her father got off work, their cat could hear his car coming and would come out to the front steps to greet him. Now, there’s so much traffic you can’t hear yourself think, Davis said.
Submit questions by calling (904) 359-4622 or mailing to Call Box, P.O. Box 1949, Jacksonville, FL 32231. Please include contact information. If you have a picture to offer with your question, feel free to send it.
Sandy Strickland: (904) 359-4128