Transforming a Southside public nuisance into a breath of fresh air

A business owner’s vision of transforming a Southside property that was once considered a public nuisance into an upscale gallery has neighbors breathing a sigh of relief.

On the corner of Southside and Beach Boulevards, a large building that was once the home of Mascara’s Gentleman’s Club is now the new location for Pave’ & Company Home Design Gallery. Meghan Besore is the gallery owner. She told News4JAX that went she first decided to set up shop inside the building, she knew it had to undergo major renovations to transform the place from a dark strip club to a gallery with lots of natural lighting.

Related: ‘We’re closing it’: Councilmen say Mascaras Gentleman’s Club is public nuisance | Last dance for Jacksonville strip club with history of gun violence

“It was definitely rough,” Besore said. “It was pitch black inside and when they told me they could take all the boards off the windows and open it up and make look like it does now, I was so excited. There was a lot of damage within the building that we had to clean up. We completely tore down the interior walls to open the space more. We removed a lot of extra lighting that wasn’t needed. We revamped the exterior as well and gave it a new paint job.”

New4JAX was given a tour of the building, which looked very different than when it was a nightspot.

The new look was also noticed by nearby homeowners who were glad to see contractors flipping the building into something the homeowners felt was more pleasing.

“And I said I am so thankful you guys are here. He acknowledged and said he understood the pain that we had been going through in this neighborhood,” said homeowner Flo Murray.

For several years, she and many of her neighbors complained to the city when the building was a strip club. The complaints were about loud noise coming from the club late at night, visible drug activity outside the club, trash left behind on private property from clubgoers, and gun violence.

“A lot of gunshots. Someone was killed over there. I remember that. I walked out there at two in the morning, and someone was shot. I don’t want to experience that again, so I’m glad it’s gone,” said neighbor Mark Murray.

“I saw people drugged on this street. I often heard gunfire. There were murders down there. I’m glad it’s gone,” said another homeowner who asked to remain anonymous.

Complaints to the city had become so compounding that in 2021, the City Council voted unanimously to approve a bill requesting the place be investigated as a public nuisance based on criminal activity. There were so many red flags associated with the club that according to multiple sources, the owner of the property discontinued the lease to the owner of Mascara’s. The lease agreement ended on Jan. 1, 2022.

Fast forward more than a year later, the place is now a luxury home design gallery with none of the baggage associated with the previous business. Besore told News4JAX that neighbors have personally welcomed her and her business into the community.

“They’re so thankful, of course, because our business operates during normal business hours. It’s much quieter here for them in the evenings. There’s no more violence. There are no more noise complaints. And we’re really trying to add something of value to the community. They can source materials from us and really feel good about what we’re doing here,” Besore said.

Although Pave’ and Company is now open for business, the owner is throwing a grand opening event on Oct. 5. She’s inviting the local community to come check out the place.

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