Northeast Florida Roundup
Entrepreneurs use Virdee app to operate their Old Florida-style hotel like an Airbnb
Entrepreneurs Leila and Adam Bedoian have added a digital twist to their Old Florida-style hotel. Located on Anastasia Island near the St. Augustine Amphitheatre, The Local is a 21-room “modern boutique” hotel with a retro feel.
Through an app called Virdee, the Bedoians operate the property like an Airbnb — Guests can book a reservation, complete an ID verification process and get a digital key on the day of check-in.
The Bedoians save at least $40,000 by eliminating the front desk reception position, Leila says, and the digital format enables the couple to live off-site while still providing guests with service. “We want our guests to feel like a local,” Leila says. “Just coming and going like they live here.”
The Marion County Commission has approved a special use permit for an eight-acre wedding and “glamping” (glamorous camping) destination venue. Enchanted Oaks Farm and Lakehouse offers glamping in southwest Marion County via Airbnb.
- The St. Augustine Art Association will assume management of the Art Galleries of St. Augustine (AGOSA). An art gallery and artists organization established in 1993, AGOSA promotes more than 20 galleries, a job that will now go to the St. Johns Cultural Council.
- Scott Maynard has been named director of economic development for the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce. Maynard previously served as program director for employer relations at Florida State University’s Career Center.
- The civil engineering firm England-Thims & Miller has made several leadership changes. Tyler Mathews will serve as president; Brad Weeber is the company’s new executive vice president of land development, and Drew Holley is vice president of land development. The company has also appointed eight new shareholders, bringing the total to 33.
- The North Florida Land Trust has purchased more than 400 acres in Putnam County from the Eugene B. Porter Revocable Trust. The mostly native land includes scrub, sandhill, forested wetlands and ephemeral ponds and has about 1 mile of shoreline on Lake Grandin.
- Florida Blue plans to convert its headquarters and other Jacksonville facilities to 100% solar power through JEA’s SolarMax program, an energy sustainability project that focuses on increasing business use of solar energy. Florida Blue is the first corporate participant to sign on to the program, a move that will reduce the company’s overall carbon footprint by at least 50%.
- Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital will open its three-story, 60-bed hospital in south Jacksonville this month. The hospital will be adjacent to skilled nursing and assisted living facilities as well as two memory-care homes already on the 115-acre campus.
- UF Health has partnered with Flagler Health+ on graduate medical education programs. In the first phase of the collaboration, the University of Florida-affiliated hospital will hold its family practice residency programs at the Durbin Park and St. Augustine campuses. The organizations are considering partnerships on other specialties and plan for medical, nursing, pharmacy and physician assistant trainees to rotate through the various Flagler Health+ campuses.
- Avecina Medical opened urgent care clinics in Julington Creek, Orange Park and Middleburg. The Jacksonville-based medical provider plans to open a facility this year in Gainesville.
- Flagler Health+ plans to build a comprehensive health complex on 70 acres the hospital purchased for $2.2 million at U.S. 1 and Palm Coast Parkway.
- Crowley Maritime has begun work on eWolf, the first electric tugboat in the U.S. The 82-foot vessel is expected to be operational in 2023. eWolf will replace a tugboat at the Port of San Diego that consumes more than 30,000 gallons of diesel fuel each year.
- Construction is underway on the National POW/MIA Memorial and Museum at the former Naval Air Station Cecil Field, now Cecil Commerce Center. The memorial, which will honor both prisoners of war and those classified as missing in action from World War II to the present, will cost approximately $80 million and take more than 10 years to complete. The first phase of the project, which includes a display of retired war aircraft, is expected to be completed this spring.
- Former state representative and Jacksonville City Council member Reggie Fullwood has been named president of Operation New Hope, an organization that provides resources and job skills training for people with a criminal history.
- Feeding Northeast Florida has appointed Kerrie Slattery as its first chief development officer. Slattery was most recently the chief advancement officer for the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens. In her new role, she will be responsible for securing philanthropic support for the food bank.
- Atlantic Logistics has launched a volunteer and philanthropy initiative called Atlantic Cares. Through the initiative, 12 local non-profits will receive a $2,500 donation in 2022. The initiative also supports a volunteer program in which staff members are paid to help those in need.
- The St. Johns County Planning and Zoning Committee has approved an additional 5,600 homes in the SilverLeaf development, between World Golf Village and the St. Johns River. The development, already approved for 10,700 homes, will include 900,000 square feet of office space and 2 million square feet of retail space.
- Construction on a 40,673-sq.-ft. Bestbet gaming facility in St. Johns County is expected to be complete in June. The $11.6-million project includes a card room and simulcast area as well as food and beverage space and a sports bar.
- Construction has begun on the third phase of the Parkway Place at Durbin Park retail center in northern St. Johns County.
- Walmart plans to put automated market fulfillment centers in two Jacksonville locations: Beach Boulevard and 103rd Street.
- New residential fiber-optic internet provider IQ Fiber plans to base its headquarters on Jacksonville’s southside. The company plans to initiate internet infrastructure projects in the first half of this year.
- Elite Airways now has non-stop direct service from Northeast Florida Regional Airport to Newark, N.J., on Mondays and Fridays.