In the News- Northeast- Jan. 2003
Columbia County -- Columbia County commissioners unanimously rejected plans for a proposed truck-racing track near U.S. 441 in White Springs. Gloria Gardner Davis' proposal to turn an 18-acre tract zoned for agriculture into the Florida/Georgia Dirt Drag was opposed by neighbors concerned about potential noise and its impact on property values.
Jacksonville -- Flagler Development Co., the commercial real estate development subsidiary of Florida East Coast Industries, recently sold 1,334 acres near Titusville to Willow Creek Development for $6.9 million.
Developers of the planned Cecil Commerce Center at the former naval air station say their project will create 16,000 jobs and $857.5 million in private investment during the next 20 years, double previous estimates. TriLegacy Commerce Group is receiving $16 million from the Better Jacksonville Plan to develop the 8,000-acre Westside site.
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce closed branches it operated inside Jacksonville-based Winn-Dixie grocery stores (NYSE-WIN). The bank owned Marketplace Banks in 184 Winn-Dixie stores throughout Florida and will pay the grocery chain a reported $60-million termination fee. Customer balances of more than $1,000 were transferred to E*Trade Bank, while lesser deposits were returned.
A once-popular Westside movie theater will be torn down to make way for a 40,000-sq.-ft. shopping center. Developer Toney Sleiman purchased the 40-year-old St. Johns 8 Theaters on Roosevelt Boulevard from Jacksonville-based StarNet Cinemas for an undisclosed amount.
Nassau County -- O.B. Island Homes of Fernandina Beach bought the remaining land inside the gated Oyster Bay Harbors subdivision. The company plans to build single-family homes, duplexes, town houses, a 102-slip marina and bridges connecting the islands to the mainland.
Ocala -- Central Florida Community College is building an education, economic and workforce development hub called The Enterprise Center on its Ocala campus. The center will house offices of the Ocala/Marion County Economic Development Corp., Citrus/Levy/Marion Works, Marion County Public Schools Adult and Technical Education Center and CFCC Corporate Learning Center classrooms.
A U.S. Forest Service report suggests that damage caused by off-road vehicles in the Ocala National Forest is more severe and widespread than expected. Though illegal, "mudding" has harmed many of the forest's prairie ponds and sandhill habitats. A Forest Service wildlife biologist called the report's results "shocking."
Ponte Vedra Beach -- The Ponte Vedra Inn and Club recently earned the American Automobile Association's Five Diamond Award status. The 75-year-old resort, one of seven Five Diamond properties in Florida, is nearing completion of a $45-million renovation.
St. Augustine -- Shortly after choosing a contractor for a proposed downtown parking garage, the facility's future was thrown in doubt when the mayor who promoted the project was voted out of office. The city's new mayor, George Gardner, campaigned on an anti-garage platform, as did two other newcomers who won city commission seats. Though Elkins Construction of Jacksonville was awarded the contract, it now appears unlikely the multideck garage behind the Lightner Museum will ever be built.
St. Johns County -- The St. Augustine Outlet Mall is being sold to a New Jersey company that plans to improve the I-95 retail center. Chelsea Property Group is buying the mall and three other outlet centers owned by New Plan Excel Trust of New York for $193 million. The St. Augustine mall has 329,000 square feet of commercial space and 95 stores.
Nassau County's population jumped 75% from 1980 to 2000 and is projected to increase another 20% by 2010. The breakdown:
ADDRESSING THE NURSING SHORTAGE
JACKSONVILLE -- Jacksonville University and Flagler Hospital in St. Augustine have formed a partnership to help address the region's critical shortage of nurses. JU's School of Nursing recently started offering a bachelor's and master's degree program in nursing at Flagler Hospital and will begin offering an additional bachelor's of nursing program designed for RNs this month.