December 5, 2023

Southeast Florida Roundup

Securing the waterfront in Indian River County

Mike Vogel | 7/24/2015

Marina redevelopments catering to the growing demand for boat slips and waterside amenities have blossomed since the recession. In Sebastian, a city of 23,500 in Indian River County that started as a fishing village, one unusual redevelopment harks back to the old Florida origins of many marinas.

In 2008, former state Rep. Charlie Sembler led the creation of the Stan Mayfield Working Waterfronts Florida Forever program, which buys property to safeguard waterfront access for commercial fishermen. The program is named in honor of the late state representative who sponsored the legislation.

Sembler says he was concerned that commercial fishermen were being forced off the waterside by a combination of the 1994 Florida constitutional net ban, a demand for waterfront residences and tax bills that valued docks as future condo sites. “The old ways were dying out,” says Sembler, a ninth-generation Floridian whose family was among the early farming and fishing families in Sebastian.

He pressed the city to pursue a Working Waterfronts grant. The result: The city used $3.7 million in state, Florida Inland Navigator District and privately raised funds to buy an old bar and an adjacent marina on the Indian River Lagoon. It then rehabilitated them to house a working commercial fishing dock, an exhibit on Sebastian’s fishing past and a fresh fish market and seafood eatery. Next up: Rebuilding a fish house.

Sembler says the project has secured the waterfront for commercial fishermen and serves as a destination for locals and tourists. Visitors can learn history, buy fresh fish and see how the industry works, right down to watching the fish blood fly as catches are landed. “It doesn’t get any more real than that,” Sembler says. “It’s not theme park-y Florida. There’s nothing faux. The true old Florida is what you’ll be able to see.”


The Palm Beach School Board hired Robert Avossa, superintendent of schools in Fulton County, Ga., (Atlanta has its own school district), as the district’s new superintendent. Avossa, a native of Italy raised in Melbourne and a University of South Florida graduate, became superintendent in Fulton County in 2011.

Profile -- Delivery Dudes

Food delivery service Delivery Dudes was started in 2009 by ex-New Yorker Jayson Koss, who was baffled by why so many eateries in New York delivered and so few did in Delray Beach. The firm has grown from a local outfit to 25 franchises around Florida, Tennessee, Oregon and Colorado. CEO Koss, 30, won’t disclose revenue for the privately held company but reports the system is up to 750 drivers and 700 partner restaurants. Customers select items from partner restaurant menus online at Delivery Dudes, and company drivers pick up the food and deliver it for the cost of the items plus a $5 cash or $7 credit delivery fee.

Business Briefs

BOCA RATON — Florida Atlantic University’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine graduated 53 students from its inaugural medical school class. The graduates move on to residencies lasting three to seven years. > The 700-acre Arvida Park of Commerce has been renamed The Park at Broken Sound. The park was started in 1978 by developer Arvida, whose name is disappearing from the Florida landscape as properties and developments mature and seek new identities. The Boca park is now owned by two park associations of 66 property owners and is managed by Irongate Real Estate Management.

COCONUT CREEK — Upscale movie chain Silverspot Cinema opened its first southeast Florida theater.

FORT LAUDERDALE — To build its pilot pipeline, Silver Airways expanded a partnership with Aerosim Training Solutions’ flight academy in Orlando. Silver will send its new pilot hires there to complete certification training. > Construction firm Skanska USA will lead the $32.7-million renovation of Chris Evert Children’s Hospital at Broward Health Medical Center. Completion is scheduled for December 2018. > BBX Capital acquired sole ownership of Florida Asset Resolution Group, an entity with $94.8 million in assets that was formed to hold loans and other assets in the sale of BankAtlantic to BB&T. BB&T held a preferred interest until it recovered $285 million plus interest from the entity’s net cash flows. That happened in May, giving BBX sole ownership. > Automotive retailer AutoNation unveiled its own branded service contract program, called the AutoNation Vehicle Protection Plan. > Broward County tourism increased 5% in 2014, compared to the average increase of 3.9% statewide. The county saw a record 14.3 million visitors who spent $11.4 billion. International visits were up 26%. Occupancy rates set records of 85.9% in January and 93% in February.

JUPITER — Jupiter Medical Center opened its Margaret W. Niedland Breast Center for breast health and outpatient imaging services.

MIRAMAR — The state approved plans by the Archdiocese of Miami to build a retirement community, Casa Sant’Angelo, on the grounds of one of its churches in Miramar. The facility will have 75 independent living apartments, 13 assisted living units and 24 memory care units.

POMPANO BEACH — Developer Fernbrook Florida, an affiliate of Canada’s Fernbrook Homes, is in presales on Sabbia Beach, a 19-story, 72-unit luxury condo development and the first Oceanside condo project in Pompano in a decade. The building, designed by Arquitectonica, is scheduled for groundbreaking in the fall.

PORT ST. LUCIE — The city sold the animation studio building that housed Digital Domain, a city economic incentives project that failed, for $13 million to megachurch Christ Fellowship as a worship center. The city financed construction of the building as part of its $62-million incentive deal to land the special effects company, which then went bankrupt in 2012. The state gave Digital Domain another $20 million.

SUNRISE — National medical group Mednax acquired Eden Prairie, Minn.-based radiology physician service and telemedicine company vRad for $500 million. VRad’s headquarters, operations and client support will remain in Minnesota. VRad’s 350 doctors interpret 5 million patient studies a year for 2,100 hospitals, health systems and radiology group facilities.

Working Waterfront Grants

  • $1.9 million Blue Crab Cove, Brevard County
  • $2.6 million Sebastian Working Waterfront, Sebastian
  • $324,239 Eastpoint Working Waterfront, Franklin County
  • $814,703 Apalachicola Boatworks, Apalachicola
  • Pending Mayfield-Stock Island Maritime Facility, Monroe County


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