The Evans Center
When Mr. Roosevelt “Ross” Evans opened his Palm Bay market on the corner of Randolph and Florida Streets (1965) he gave his community a safe, attractive place to buy healthy foods and sundry items, and a place of employment and economic viability.
Evans Supermarket was also an important community gathering spot. Elderly residents could easily walk to the store to pick up fresh meat or a box of salt without the expense and hassle of finding transportation to stores farther away. Mr. Evans even made sure that the children waiting at his store for the school bus had done their homework!
After Mr. Evans passed away, his store deteriorated, eventually becoming a dilapidated structure that become a hangout for drug dealers. Concern arose within the community and soon neighbor-driven ideas on how to revitalize and repurpose the building began to germinate. In 2007, Congregations for Community Action began facilitating discussions with members of the Powell Subdivision Neighborhood Watch, City of Palm Bay leaders, and other interested neighborhood residents to further develop a vision for a future market on the site. In 2009, Brevard Neighborhood Development Coalition (now Neighbor Up Brevard) was invited to join the collaborative effort to revive the market, and Evans Center LLC was born the following year. To foster wider range community input and add more voices to the vision conversation, two community surveys were taken in 2011 and 2016.
The boarded up, asbestos-ridden building was demolished in 2012. The vision cast for its replacement was a 6,000 square foot Florida vernacular-style facility to be called Evans Center, a structure that would include not only a market, but a Brevard Health Alliance clinic and classroom/community room space, all under one roof.
In December 2016, a new nonprofit created to replace the LLC and called Evans Center, Inc., purchased the former Evans Supermarket property and two adjacent parcels from the city of Palm Bay. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on December 2, 2017 and construction began in the winter 2018. It is anticipated that construction of the Evans Center will be completed before the year is out, proving that dreams can and do become reality.
The Evans Center site is located within Palm Bay’s enterprise zone and the Bayfront Community Redevelopment Area. In addition to bringing much-needed services, Evans Center is a critical project for stabilizing this community and stimulating economic growth.