This front-page story appeared in the Florida Times-Union on March 27, 2011. It was awarded a Sunshine State Award by the Society of Professional Journalists' South Florida chapter in June 2011.
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Not a soul reports for work at the shell of a car dealership along Interstate 95, the cornerstone of a massive project that aimed to create more than 600 jobs.Same goes for the empty building slated for LaVilla Bistro on the outskirts of downtown. The parking lot at Union and Beaver streets is now dotted with a mound of dirt and piles of bricks - not cars belonging to hungry customers and 100 employees.The unfinished projects are glaring examples of costly meltdowns marring the $25 million Northwest Jacksonville Economic Development Trust Fund.The fund, aimed at sparking private investment in a long-neglected part of town, helped win African-American support for Mayor John Delaney's far-reaching $2.2 billion Better Jacksonville Plan in 2000.