Around the State
University of Florida business incubator Sid Martin Biotechnology Development Institute is seeking federal funds to expand. The institute expects to generate 100 new jobs this year. It has a waiting list to join its roster of 12 firms.
The hotel-room count in the historic district will double next spring with the opening of a 120-suite, $10 million hotel being developed by Charlotte, N.C.-based M. Taylor and Company Hoteliers in partnership with David Murdock, chairman of Dole Food Co.
HMO AvMed Health Plan this month completes a new 60,000-square-foot regional headquarters. Three more buildings are envisioned for the 160-acre campus.
St. Louis-based Adam's Mark Hotels & Resorts plans a $126 million, 950-room hotel and convention center on the riverfront downtown. The company is seeking $21 million in incentives. Meanwhile, Interstate Hotels Corp., investor in a hotel project near the Prime Osborn Convention Center, says competition may prompt them to back out.
St. Joe Corp. (NYSE-SJP) purchased Clearwater-based Prudential Florida Realty in a $90 million cash deal.
Northrop Grumman, the first private tenant at the old Cecil Field Naval Air Station, plans to begin moving in this summer. The airplane-overhaul operation will bring 445 jobs at an average salary of $47,000.
Enterprise North Florida Corp. and First Coast Venture Capital Group broadened efforts to link entrepreneurs with financing by creating the non-profit North Florida Venture Capital Network, covering 36 counties from Jacksonville to Pensacola and as far south as Melbourne.
AccuStaff (NYSE-ASI) sold its $116.3 million healthcare division, Health Force, to Cincinnati-based CommuniCare Health Services. Meanwhile, AccuStaff's information technology subsidiary, Modis, bought the $80 million Philadelphia-based Actium Corp., which specializes in Web applications.
The county's first new bank in a decade, Community Bank of Marion County, opened this spring and plans a branch in downtown Ocala within a year.
A $40,000 study funded by Ocala and the state Transportation Department will advise whether Ocala Regional Airport, which has no commercial passenger flights, can lure a commuter airline.
ST. JOHNS COUNTY
The St. Johns River Water Management District warns of water shortages, with predictions that water use will rise 200% from 1995 to 2020.
Ponte Vedra Beach residents will vote this fall whether to incorporate and create the county's largest city and its fourth municipality.
The Largest Development...
... to hit the desks of planners at the North Central Florida Regional Planning Council may get underway this fall at the last major undeveloped interchange in Gainesville. The Haufler family, which has been active in farming in the area for generations, plans a 600-acre, $348 million project called SpringHills around the intersection of Interstate 75 and NW 39th Avenue. Over the course of the project's 20-year build-out, SpringHills could generate 7,000 jobs, 1.2 million square feet of commercial property, half-a-million square feet in warehouse space, 2,000 homes, condos and apartments and six hotels. A shopping center and motion picture studio are slated for construction this fall. "This will change the character of that part of the city and county," says Leveda Brown, Alachua County Commission chairwoman. "It will provide a tremendous boost."
Already there's concern about boosts in traffic at the interchange and on nearby roadways. Existing rush hour gridlock along the antiquated two-lane 39th Avenue overpass could stall development beyond the shopping center and movie studio. Marlie Sanderson, the planning council's head of transportation planning, says his agency will insist that if traffic exceeds the limits at any point, "They can't go onto the next phase." The Florida Department of Transportation is set to widen the overpass in 2001, but the Haufler family, neighboring AvMed Health Plan and Santa Fe Community College are lobbying to speed it up by a year. Richard Ferrell of Kissimmee-based Forbes-Hamilton Management Co., developer of the hotels and spokesman for the Hauflers, says he's confident Alachua County, the state DOT and business partners will pitch in on future roadway infrastructure costs, estimated at $40 million. The Hauflers agreed to pick up 18%.
Brown lauds the SpringHills master plan as a design that will spare the area the mismatched growth that clutters Gainesville's other key interchanges at Newberry and Archer roads. The Hauflers bought the property in 1943 and farmed there. In the 1960s, they donated 100 acres for the main campus of Santa Fe Community College. But the family held off significant development - until now.
- Jane Tanner