Southeast Florida Roundup
Fitnessmith moved from regional to national exercise equipment supplier during pandemic
Changing Its Routine
In the pandemic, Boynton Beach-based Fitnessmith, a 25-year-old supplier of exercise equipment and consulting services to the commercial gym, hotel, resort and multifamily markets, turned to the home market, from single treadmills to major home workout spaces.
Michael Scichilone, who became CEO in 2010, moved the company into services, including brand consulting, franchise development, finance and leasing and warranty plans and from a regional to a national provider. The company expects $20 million in revenue this year.
- Jupiter hedge fund founder and philanthropist David J.S. Nicholson donated $10 million to Florida Atlantic University to add a third floor to the neuroscience building on its Jupiter campus and fund a professorship, a STEM teacher training program and a research center for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The state is also chipping in funds for the building, which will be called the Stiles-Nicholson Brain Institute.
- Palm Beach schools CFO Mike Burke became the district’s interim superintendent, its third superintendent in six years, after Donald Fennoy resigned, citing personal reasons. Burke received a $300,000 base salary. Meanwhile, Vickie Cartwright, a former associate superintendent for Orange County schools and former superintendent in Oshkosh, Wisc., became interim superintendent of Broward schools, replacing Robert Runcie, who resigned after being arrested on a perjury charge. Cartwright earns $275,000.
- The Florida Legislature in its next annual session will decide whether to allow the Broward County School Board to pay $25 million to victims of the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in northwest Broward. Without legislative permission, the school board cannot pay more than $300,000 in compensation.
- Developer Minto Communities plans a 50-acre retail, office and industrial component for Westlake, the newest city in Palm Beach County.
- Wantman Group plans 100 townhouses on 12 acres near Royal Palm Beach and Okeechobee boulevards in Royal Palm Beach.
- Miami-based Terra will develop 16000 Pines Market, a 135,000-sq.-ft., Publix-anchored, mixed-use project in Pembroke Pines. The first phase of the project will be finished this year. The second phase is scheduled for completion in 2022.
- Property owner Derek Vucich presented a plan to the Juno Beach Town Council for building two seven-story condo buildings and an assisted living and memory care facility on an undeveloped site at Donald Ross Road and U.S. 1.
- New York-based Related Cos., the city’s dominant downtown office landlord, paid $20 million to the First Church of Christ, Scientist, for a waterfront West Palm Beach site where Related plans One Flagler, a 25-story office building.
- Rendina Healthcare plans a 42-bed specialty hospital in Jupiter focusing on physical, occupational and speech therapy and rehab.
- Alabama-based Encompass Health plans a 50-bed rehabilitation hospital in Palm Beach Gardens.
- The South Florida Spine and Orthopedic Institute plans a 24-bed specialty hospital near Delray Beach.
- St. Lucie County funded construction of the first portion of an 18-mile segment in the county of the East Coast Greenway, a trail running from Maine to Key West.
- Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line returned to cruising from the Port of Palm Beach to the Bahamas.
- Fort Lauderdale city commissioners accepted an unsolicited proposal from Elon Musk’s Boring Co. to build a threemile tunnel connecting downtown to the beach, a vote that opened the process for competitors to bid for the project, too. The city’s interest at this point is speculative as there’s been no discussion of the feasibility of tunnels or how to pay for them. The company has built an underground loop in Las Vegas.
Pandemic’s Toll on Students
Students in Southeast Florida scored noticeably lower on standardized tests during the pandemic. Proficiency rates for third- to eighth-grade students on the Florida Standards Assessment fell to 45% in math in Broward, for example, from 63% in 2019, the second-largest drop in Florida. School officials called it imperative that students return to in-person instruction.
State officials noted a correlation in Florida between the numbers of students who returned to campus and performance. Broward, at 40%, had the lowest share of students showing up for in-person instruction. In Palm Beach, 59% of students came to school. The state average was 69%.
Read more in Florida Trend's October issue.
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