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July 12-18, 2018

Basch Report: Convergys merger may not have big impact here PAGE 4



INTO LANDSCAPING Record & Observer New council Freeman

Mike Zaffaroni hated his pharmaceutical sales job, so he bought JACKSONVILLE a landscaping company. A decade later, he’s Small Business Leader of the Year.


members to begin work

Record & Observer Terrance Freeman and Ju’Coby Pittman appointed to fill in for officials facing fraud charges.




hen Mike Zaffaroni acquired the landscaping business on North Main Street now known as Liberty Landscape Supply, there was one employee and about $500,000 in annual revenue. For the past decade, Zaffaroni cultivated the business that is projected to bring in about $5 million in annual revenue this year and is a burgeoning employer with 37 workers. The business, previously owned by Ronnie Cannon, was called Fernandina Mulch & Stone and located in Fernandina Beach. Zaffaroni added the location at 13385 N. Main St. about a year ago and recently opened a farm in Hilliard. Zaffaroni, 27 when he bought the business, declined to say how much he paid. However, the business flourished under his ownership. JAX Chamber named him Small Business Leader of the Year this year. He represented the chamber’s North Council. Transitioning into a landscape supply company was a radical move for Zaffaroni, who was a pharmaceutical sales representative until he bought the business. “This (North Main Street) was part of my sales territory,” he said. “I hated my job in pharmaceutical sales.”


Record & Observer



Photo by Drew Dixon

When Mike Zaffaroni bought his landscape supply business a decade ago, the company didn’t sell trees. Now trees and other plants account for almost half the business’s revenue.

Consumer confidence near peak for the past decade PAGE 3 Cawton Report: Protest over low bid to demolish old courthouse PAGE 8 OBSERVER MEDIA GROUP


City Council President Aaron Bowman will install new members Terrance Freeman and Ju’Coby Pittman to represent Districts 8 and 10 Thursday in a ceremony at City Hall. They replace suspended council members Katrina Brown and Reginald Brown. Gov. Rick Scott suspended them from office after they were indicted on federal fraud charges May 31. Freeman, a Republican, takes over for Reginald Brown in District 10. Pittman, a Democrat, will represent District 8 in Katrina Brown’s absence. Bowman said he is happy the appointments were made before council members return to work July 16 after the two-week summer legislative break. “I think first and foremost, I’m glad we’re going to start out this council year with a full slate of 19 members,” he said. “I was worried we weren’t going to be able to pull that off.” Bowman has assigned the new members to two council subcommittees each. Pittman will serve on the Land Use and Zoning Committee and SEE COUNCIL, PAGE 10


Wawa appears to be in works for Spring Park Plus: Global Diamonds rebrands PAGE 6 VOLUME 1, NO. 6 • ONE SECTION

Page 2 • Thursday, July 12, 2018

Jacksonville Daily Record/Jacksonville Record & Observer


Small businesses finding office space that’s just right


Office suites offer “only what you need and only when you need it.” Small businesses often are referred to as the “backbone” of the economy. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, they represent 99.7 percent of U.S. employer firms, 64 percent of net new private sector jobs, 49.2 percent of private sector employment and 42.9 percent of private sector payroll. Attorneys Kelly Karstaedt and Brandon Stanko have built a law practice for entrepreneurs and small business owners that’s based on providing all the resources their clients need without them having to pay for what they don’t need. And with only two people in the firm, they can relate to their clients on all levels. “We act as an outsourced in-house counsel for small to mid-size businesses and nonprofits. They know they need legal counsel, but they’re not to the point they need, or can afford, to pay someone with a fulltime salary and benefits. It’s important for them to control their overhead,” said Stanko. Like many small businesses in Jacksonville, the law partners found a solution to meeting their office space needs that reflects the “only what you need and only when you need it” philosophy that’s part of the success-

ful entrepreneur’s business plan. The firm’s office is at Executive Suite Professionals, another small business that built-out the entire 14th floor at TIAA Bank Center, creating small private offices with a shared reception area and conference and meeting rooms. Also provided are business services like a receptionist, mailboxes and personal message service. Tenants have access to the benefits of Class A space and amenities, but only as much and as often as needed. With offices within sight of the county and federal courthouses, about 70 percent of the nearly 50 tenants are attorneys, and all are very small businesses, said Lisa Gufford, Executive Suites Professionals managing member. “They are solos or have one or two people. And we know it works for them because 80 percent renew their lease,” she said. ESP is one of several similar business that have opened in Downtown office towers or suburban office parks. Michael Abel of Abel Bean Law has offices in the Regus shared office space at Bank of America Tower. After more than 12 years practicing with one of Jacksonville’s largest firms, he struck out on his own 14 months ago and has since added a partner, an associate attorney and a paralegal to the firm. “The value proposition worked when it was a new business and it has given me the flexibility to scale up. When I’ve added someone to the firm, I had a furnished office for them in five minutes,” he said. The shared office plan is a trend that will continue to grow while how company owners and consumers prefer to do business evolves. “It’s going to become the way people expect to work and people like to work with people with the same mindset,” Stanko said. MMARBUT@JAXDAILYRECORD.COM (904) 356-2466

RETAIL ‘The Profit’ star brings new concept to Town Center Entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis of “The Profit” on CNBC is bringing another concept to Jacksonville, this one named for himself. Marcus, described as a contemporary multilabel womenswear and lifestyle boutique, is slated for the St. Johns Town Center location where Lemonis operated another concept - Denim & Soul. The store is at 4742 River City Drive, No. 113. Denim & Soul opened in 2016 to sell jeans and high-end clothing and accessories in the space vacated by Cache. Marcus operMarcus Lemonis ates in 17 locations, according to his site. The first opened in October in Chicago. Others include Aspen, Colorado, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, New York City and Palm Beach. Lemonis, based near Chicago, invested in Jacksonville’s Sweet Pete’s candy business in 2014 on “The Profit.” He also is an owner in AutoMatch USA and is chair and CEO of Camping World Inc., an RV superstore. Both have a Jacksonville location.

REAL ESTATE Soba Apartments coming to the South Bank Catalyst Development Partners announced that it will name its Home Street multifamily project the SoBa Apartments. SoBa is the shortened “South Bank.” The 147-unit, four-story community at 1444 Home St. formerly was referred to as both the San Marco Apartments and Home Street Apartments. The property is on the Southbank near Interstate 95. “SoBa was designed for the tech-friendly, pet-loving and health-conscious urbanite,” Catalyst Development Principal Jorge Sardinas said in a news release. Completion of all units and amenities is projected for the first quarter of 2020. Rental rates were not announced.



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Jacksonville Daily Record/Jacksonville Record & Observer

Thursday, July 12, 2018 • Page 3

10-YEAR-HIGH January

March 2015



U.S. economic growth is best since 2005. Later in the year, the Dow would plunge over concerns about the debt crisis in Greece.

Low unemployment and hourly wages up 2.9 percent from a year ago.


The University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research monthly consumer sentiment index hit a 10-year high in January before dipping slightly in June. Here’s how the index has fared over the past decade.



Consumer confidence shows a steady increase in Florida

October 2013


The federal government shuts down after Congress fails to agree on a budget, largely because of a standoff over the Affordable Care Act.

August 2011



Economic growth slowed in the first half of 2011 amid political fights over the debt ceiling.

June 2008


The U.S. economy remains in the Great Recession, which started in December 2007 and ended in June 2009.

Respondents older than 60 more optimistic about economy; wealthier respondents also have a better outlook. that consumers do not foresee the economy gaining much momentum in the months ahead,” Conference Board Confidence among Florida consum- Director of Economic Indicators Lynn ers has been steadily rising for the past Franco said in a news release. decade since bottoming out in the last Florida is doing well, but consumers recession. are concerned about the overall U.S. But the latest monthly consumer economy. survey by the University of Florida’s “The drop in June’s confidence came Bureau of Economic and Business primarily from consumers’ expectaResearch showed the state’s consumer tions about the national economic sentiment dipped a bit in June. conditions over the next year,” Hector The bureau last week said its Florida Sandoval, director of the bureau’s ecoConsumer Sentiment Index fell by 1.9 nomic analysis program, said in a news points to 98.3 in June. release. Floridians feel the same way as the “This decline might come as a result rest of the country. The Conference of the potential impact that the new Board two weeks ago said its national tariffs on imports and foreign retaliaConsumer Confidence Index fell by 2.4 tion might have on the economy in the points to 126.4. short run,” he said. The most FANTASMAGORICAL stage musical “While expectations remain high The Florida index is based on a scale in thestandards, history ofthe everything! by historical mod- of 2 to 150, with the index benchmarked est curtailment in optimism suggests to 100 in 1966.



In the last decade, the index fell as low as 58.8 in June 2008, in the middle of the 2007-09 recession. The index rose above 100 twice this year, including in May. The June 2018 survey for Florida showed concern about consumers’ personal finances, with the index of their current situation, compared with a year ago, and expectations of their finances a year from now both declining. Age is impacting consumer sentiment, with respondents 60 and older expressing more optimism than those under 60, UF said. Income is another factor affecting sentiment. Consumer sentiment for people with income of $50,000 or more did fall by 3.9 points but remained strong at 105.3 in June, while sentiment for those below $50,000 was unchanged but with a much lower





“While expectations remain high by historical standards, the modest curtailment in optimism suggests that consumers do not foresee the economy gaining much momentum in the months ahead.” Lynn Franco Conference Board director of economic indicators

index value of 89.9. Men and women also have sharply different outlooks. The sentiment index for men dropped by 5.2 points in June to 101.8, while the index for women rose by 0.9 points but remained much lower at 94.8. Sandoval expressed confidence that the strong Florida labor market will keep consumer confidence strong in the state. “In view of the continued positive labor market conditions in Florida, we expect consumer confidence to remain high,” he said. MBASCH@JAXDAILYRECORD.COM

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Jacksonville Daily Record/Jacksonville Record & Observer


Convergys merger may not impact city Speedway Corp. president seeks ‘star power’


Synnex Corp.’s pending $2.8 billion buyout will merge company with its subsidiary Concentrix. Convergys Corp.’s Jacksonville operation has seen wide swings in employment over the past 35 years, since it opened as a subsidiary of AT&T Corp. But based on what the companies are saying, it seems unlikely that Synnex Corp.’s pending $2.8 billion buyout of Convergys will have much of an impact on its Jacksonville workforce. Synnex will merge Convergys with its subsidiary called Concentrix, according to the agreement announced June 28. Although both provide outsourced customer service functions for businesses, there is little overlap in clients and functions, the companies said. “Concentrix has indicated that there is no plan to close any locations at this point,” Convergys said in a memo for employees posted in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. “If there are cities or locations in which we both have a presence, and there is capacity, it may make sense to consider consolidation,” it said. The merged company will have about 275 offices in 40 countries. According to the Concentrix website, its closest office to Jacksonville is in Greenville, South Carolina. Cincinnati-based Convergys operates about 150 sites but its Jacksonville office is one of only four buildings it actually owns, according to its annual report. The 330,000-square-foot building at 8000 Baymeadows Way was opened in 1983 by AT&T American Transtech, a subsidiary of AT&T formed to handle shareholder services after the court-ordered breakup of the telephone company. AT&T sold the business, which had become a provider of business services for other companies, to Cincinnati Bell Inc. in 1998. Cincinnati Bell spun off its customer service business later that year into the company called Convergys, which inherited the Jacksonville building. The Jacksonville operation employed more than 4,000 people at its peak under AT&T, but Convergys said it currently employs about 1,000 people. Employment has fluctuated under Convergys as contracts were won and lost. Synnex said it expects to realize $150 million in cost saving from the merger over three years, but its explanation of the cost cuts — as often happens when mergers are announced — was vague. “Cost savings will primarily come from delivery center

Photo by Monty Zickuhr

Convergys Corp.’s offices at 8000 Baymeadows Way. The 330,000-square-foot building opened in 1983.

alignment, rationalization of third-party spending and the leverage associated with our global infrastructure,” Concentrix President Christopher Caldwell told analysts in a conference call, according to a transcript posted by Synnex.

Boeing, Embraer announce strategic partnership

After trying to work out a deal for months, Boeing Co. and Brazil-based Embraer S.A. announced a “strategic partnership” last week. Boeing will own 80 percent of the joint venture that will focus on Embraer’s commercial aircraft business. The two companies also said they plan to create a joint venture to focus on military aircraft, but they did not give details. Both companies have Jacksonville operations. Embraer builds military aircraft at its facility at Jacksonville International Airport and Boeing has a repair and modification facility at Cecil Commerce Center. Neither company responded to email inquiries about their Jacksonville operations. The most recent data from JAXUSA Partnership showed Boeing with 370 employees in Jacksonville and Embraer with 100. The companies said the partnership could take 12 to 18 months to complete, and it will be a major issue in Brazil. The Brazilian government has veto power over any deal involving Embraer, and the potential loss of control to an American company will be controversial. The companies said the joint venture will be led by a Brazilbased president and CEO, but “Boeing will have operational and management control of the new company.”

mCig sees profit from hemp The U.S. Senate two weeks ago acted to make hemp production legal at U.S. farms, and one Jacksonville-based company is hoping to profit from it. Publicly traded mCig Inc.,

which describes itself as a diversified company serving legal cannabis markets, has a joint venture to produce hemp at a farm in upstate New York. “We see changes on the horizon for our industry,” mCig CEO Paul Rosenberg said in a news release Monday. “Hemp legalization is drawing support from both sides of the political aisle as legislators learn more about how hemp can provide much needed revenue McConnell streams to farmers across the country,” he said. The release followed a Senate vote to approve an agriculture bill which includes a provision to allow U.S. farms to grow hemp. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been supporting the hemp provision because he believes it will be an economic boon to farmers in his home state of Kentucky. “Consumers across America buy hundreds of millions in retail products every year that contain hemp,” McConnell said in a news release. “But due to outdated federal regulations that do not sufficiently distinguish this industrial crop from its illicit cousin, American farmers

have been mostly unable to meet that demand themselves. It’s left consumers with little choice but to buy imported hemp products from foreignproduced hemp,” he said. Hemp is derived from the cannabis plant which produces marijuana and because of this, hemp has been on a federal list of controlled substances. However, according to the website of the National Hemp Association, “industrial hemp is the non-psychoactive, lowTHC, oilseed and fiber varieties of the cannabis sativa plant. Hemp has absolutely no use as a recreational drug.” Rosenberg said mCig will introduce a line of hemp products “that will include natural skin cosmetics, full spectrum tinctures and probiotic pets edibles.” Besides hemp, mCig operates a variety of businesses that produced a total of $6 million in revenue in the nine months that ended Jan. 31. More than half of that revenue came from its construction division that provides consulting for businesses looking to build cannabis grow facilities. It also generated more than $1 million in revenue each from a social media division and a supply business. The company’s stock trades on the OTC market under the ticker “MCIG.”




International Speedway Corp. President John Saunders stirred up some controversy last week as the company announced quarterly earnings, two days before the Coke Zero 400 NASCAR race at the Daytona International Speedway. Daytona Beach-based International Speedway owns that track and 12 other motorsports facilities that feature NASCAR racing. Saunders said attendance was down about 10 percent at the six NASCAR Saunders races at his company’s facilities in the second quarter that ended May 31. He blamed some of the attendance issues on a lack of “star drivers,” according to a transcript of the company’s conference call with analysts. He didn’t name any drivers, but big names Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick are among the stars who recently retired. “We still have an issue with star power and hopefully, this stable of young drivers coming along will start to win and build their brands,” Saunders said. That comment raised the ire of some of the young drivers, who feel they shouldn’t be blamed for NASCAR’s attendance issues. Although race attendance was down, International Speedway did report stronger results for the second quarter. Revenue rose 3.9 percent to $171.7 million and adjusted earnings rose by 7 cents to 37 cents a share. Saunders said the company is taking steps to offset the decline in race admissions by using its facilities for other events, including a Country 500 music festival at the Daytona Beach facility on Memorial Day weekend. International Speedway also hopes its massive One Daytona development surrounding the Daytona Beach track will contribute year-round revenue. “We expect One Daytona to be the epicenter for retail, dining and entertainment in the greater Daytona Beach area,” Saunders said.


Jacksonville Daily Record/Jacksonville Record & Observer

Thursday, July 12, 2018 • Page 5

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Page 6 • Thursday, July 12, 2018

Jacksonville Daily Record/Jacksonville Record & Observer


Spring Park site looks like another Wawa KAREN BRUNE MATHIS EDITOR

Emerson Street corner to be gas station and convenience store. A “super gas station” is proposed at Emerson Street and Spring Park Road with similarities to the Wawa Inc. gas station-convenience store projects. Southeast Investments Inc., led by leaders of The Ferber Co., is the agent for the project, which is in mobility fee review for its traffic impact. The station is designed as a 5,640-square-foot project on 2.1 acres owned by several landholders, who authorized Southeast Investments to act on their behalf in seeking approvals. A mobility fee application filed with the city says the property contains an office building, two homes and a car wash. A plan shows a gas station and convenience store building with outside seating and eight fueling stations. England-Thims & Miller Inc. is the project civil engineer. Ferber representatives at the Ponte Vedra Beach office have not returned three phone calls about the project. A Wawa representative said the proper person to comment was not available. Ferber developed the Wawa at 6787 Wilson Blvd., one of Northeast Florida’s first two Wawa stores that opened Dec. 13. Ferber sold the property in January. Wawa’s two sizes for its Florida properties are about 5,600 and 6,100 square feet on about 2 acres. The Pennsylvania-based company opened four stores, more are under construction and it plans to develop 30 to 40 locations in Northeast Florida. While it’s not confirmed to be Wawa, Gate and Daily’s

Photo by Karen Brune Mathis

This site at southeast Emerson Street and Spring Park Road could be redeveloped with a gas station and convenience store.

representatives confirmed it is not their project.

phase should be completed by April. The second phase will depend on funding.

First Baptist Church YMCA addition issued permit for permit approved Nocatee campus First Baptist Church was issued a permit July 3 to build its FBC JAX South Campus at 1770 Valley Ridge Blvd. in Nocatee. Perry-McCall Construction Inc. will build the project, shown at 20,919 square feet, at a construction cost of almost $5.8 million. The Downtown-based church celebrated a groundbreaking May 20. The $750,000 site clearing of 29 acres was approved in June. Nocatee is about 26 miles from Downtown, where First Baptist has its large main campus at 124 W. Ashley St. First Baptist bought the South Campus land - almost 22 acres in Duval County and 7.29 acres in St. Johns County – in July 2013. South Campus members now meet in the Ponte Vedra High School auditorium. It also has an Ortega Campus and its Campus Church at the University of North Florida. The church said the first

The city granted a permit July 2 for a $2.49 million addition and renovation for the James Weldon Johnson Family YMCA at 5700 Cleveland Road. Auld & White Constructors LLC is the contractor. The addition comprises a 4,125-square-foot teen center and 1,167 square feet for office space. The Johnson Family YMCA began work May 14 on a $3.5 million expansion and renovation for the teen center, a pre-teen center and swimming pool and a renovated wellness center. The first phase of the expansion includes construction of a separate teen center building and swimming pool.

Starbucks building in Fort Caroline Starbucks is building up and out in the Fort Caroline area of East Arlington. The city approved permits for the $450,000 construction of a stand-alone,

Global Diamonds changes name As of Monday, Global Diamonds rebranded as Diamonds Direct and it intends to move from 4865 Town Center Parkway in The Markets at Town Center across the street to The Strand at Town Center. Diamonds Direct plans to occupy a 6,000-square-foot building at The Strand that provides 2,000 more square feet than the current location. Diamonds Direct President and CEO Itay Berger said the additional space will provide for a larger selection and the ability to host community and philanthropic events.

2,500-square-foot singlestory building on 1.14 acres at 11850 McCormick Road as well as a dumpster enclosure. Bay to Bay Properties LLC is the contractor. The city also is reviewing a permit application for the $225,000 interior build-out of the structure for Starbucks, which will relocate across Monument Road from Cobblestone Crossing. Plans show 48 interior seats and 24 exterior seats.

Taco Bell upgrading two locations Taco Bell is upgrading two area restaurants to its “Explorer Remodel.” The city issued permits

for C.W. Hayes Construction Co. of Oviedo to remodel its stores at 5905 Merrill Road at $200,000 and 13160 Atlantic Blvd. at $225,000. says the Modern Explorer design is inspired by the farm-to-table movement. The design uses an open kitchen concept “so you can watch your food being prepared right in front of you,” says the company. The upgrades of the brand image include remodeling the dining rooms, exterior painting and other updates. KMATHIS@ JAXDAILYRECORD.COM @MATHISKB (904) 356-2466

Panera plans Ponte Vedra Pointe location Panera Bread intends to open in the Ponte Vedra Pointe neighborhood shopping center at 880 Florida A1A N. (Rendering at left of the southeast view). St. Johns County and the St. Johns River Water Management District are reviewing permit applications for Panera Bread LLC to develop a 3,100-square-foot fastcasual bakery café in a shopping center parking lot. The property owner is IMA Ponte Vedra Ltd. of Coral Gables. Special to the Daily Record

Jacksonville Daily Record/Jacksonville Record & Observer

Thursday, July 12, 2018 • Page 7



The Jacksonville Metropolitan Statistical Area ranked third in the state MSAs in average weekly wages in 2017. Jacksonville’s weekly wage of $913 trailed the leader, Miami, by $61, or 6.5 percent. $974

Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach


Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville




Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater


Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island



Source: Florida Research and Economic Information Database Administration, Labor Market Statistics




Cape Coral-Fort Myers

Where the workers are . . . Miami-Fort Lauderdale has almost four times the number of workers as the Jacksonville MSA: MiamiFort LauderdaleWest Palm Beach

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Page 8 • Thursday, July 12, 2018

Jacksonville Daily Record/Jacksonville Record & Observer


Company protests bid to demolish courthouse


Low bidder is accused of not following procurement codes and of getting special treatment by the city. The pending demolition of the former Duval County Courthouse and Jacksonville City Hall Annex buildings along East Bay Street may have hit a snag. One company that sought to perform the work is protesting the pending award of the lowest bidder. Morrisville, North Carolinabased Environmental Holdings Group LLC submitted the low bid of $7.985 million among the four companies that bid on the demolition work. The city accepted qualified submissions through June 13, and unsealed them June 20. On July 3, attorneys from Regan, Whelan, Zebouni & Atwood informed Jacksonville Procurement Division Chief Greg Pease it was protesting EHG’s submission on behalf of Pece of Mind Environmental Inc. of Orlando. Pece of Mind submitted the next-lowest bid of $8.3 million, followed by Total Wrecking & Environmental LLC at $10.329 million and D.H. Griffin Wrecking Co. Inc. at $11.1 million. A fifth company, J.B. Coxwell Contracting Inc., qualified but did not submit a bid. The law firm is contending the city violated procurement codes for allowing EHG to amend its submission two days after the bids were opened June 20. Pece is asking the city to postpone awarding the demolition contract until a decision is made on the protest. Pece wants the city to disqualify EHG and award it the contract because of the alleged violation. The Procurement Division oversees bidding and purchasing for companies doing business with the city, including construction and demolition projects. According to the July 3 letter

File image

The city wants to demolish the former Duval County Courthouse and City Hall Annex to make way for new development.

authored by attorney Anthony Zebouni, “The city violated basic procurement law and its own procurement code by allowing EHG to amend its Bid Response after Bid Opening to add information material to achieve responsiveness on the JSEB Requirement.” Zebouni JSEB is the Jacksonville Small and Emerging Business program, which is designed to require larger companies to use smaller, local businesses when performing work for the city. The demolition project requires companies to set aside 10 percent of the work for the JSEB. Zebouni states that the city allowed EHG to “augment” its JSEB participation in the bid from less than 1 percent to 10.1 percent. “EHG bid submission cannot be amended or revised after bid opening for reasons so fundamental to public procedure that citation to authorities should be unnecessary,”

IN BRIEF Hundreds seek part-time jobs for football season The Jaguars say more than 500 people showed up Sunday and Monday to apply for part-time jobs inside TIAA Bank Field. SMG, Delaware North, Fanatics and other in-stadium contractors seek to fill spots for game day positions. The first home preseason game is 7 p.m. Aug. 9 against the New Orleans Saints.

Zebouni wrote. According to EHG’s June 11 submission, only one JSEB contractor, D and J Erosion Control Specialists, Inc., is listed as having an $11,832.50 contract to perform various services. The July 5 General Government Awards Committee meeting package includes another JSEB company in forms submitted by EHG on June 22. Environmental and Labor Solutions LLC will provide $800,000 worth of labor services in addition to the contract for D and J Erosion Control Specialists. A June 22 letter from JSEB Business Analyst Aileen Cruz to the procurement division states all EHG’s bid documents were reviewed for compliance with JSEB standards, including “supplemental documents received within the 48-hour grace period.” “Based on our assessment the lowest responsive bidder… meets the required 10 percent minimum JSEB participation,” she wrote. The city said it could not comment because of the pro-

test. Pece attorneys say EGH was given special treatment. “This was favoritism to one bidder at the competitive disadvantage of all others including Pece,” Zebouni said. “This favoritism enabled EHG to be responsive when at Bid Opening it was not.” Zebouni also accuses EGH of failing to meet the minimum requirements to even qualify to bid, saying it provided no examples of previous demolitions of buildings, five stories or taller, in the past 10 years. The project requires demolition of the old seven-story Duval County Courthouse and 16-story former City Hall Annex. A review of the EHG’s submission package lists no prior work examples. “Pece has demolished seven buildings, five stories and taller in the past 10 years,” Zebouni wrote. In a July 4 email, the city informed EHG Senior Capital Projects Manager Kip Simpson of the protest. “We’ll review the protest and more than likely schedule the protest hearing for next Thurs-

People looking for work at Jaguars games meet with the vendors at TIAA Bank Field. Photo by David Cawton

day, July 12,” Pease wrote. Pease confirmed Wednesday that the protest hearing is now scheduled for July 19. In a response July 5, Simpson wrote that “EHG has satisfied all the JSEB requirements.” “EHG possesses abundant experience and financial resources to execute the project on time and under budget,” he wrote. “EHG is eager to defend itself, its qualifications, and its bid. EHG is eager to begin working for the City of Jacksonville to make the project successful.” The city set aside $8 million in its 2018 budget to tear down the buildings in anticipation of new development. In addition to the demolition Request For Proposal, the city also is seeking proposals from companies interested in removing the buildings and developing a convention center, hotel and parking garage. Those bids are due in August. DCAWTON@ JAXDAILYRECORD.COM @DAVIDCAWTON (904) 356-2466

Jaguars move to mobile ticketing Fans of the Jacksonville Jaguars no longer will be able to use paper tickets to attend home games. The team announced it is moving to mobile ticketing for the 2018-19 NFL season. Game attendants will scan the tickets using the Jaguars official mobile app. The team hosts nine home games between the preseason and the regular season.

Jacksonville Daily Record/Jacksonville Record & Observer

Thursday, July 12, 2018 • Page 9



Here are the top 10 real estate sales in Northeast Florida, comprising Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties. The sales were recorded July 2-6.

File image

6805 Southpoint Parkway sold for $8.995 million, a 150 percent increase over the property’s last sale price of $3.6 million in 2015.






8450 Gate Parkway W., Jacksonville, Duval County

840 A1A N., Ponte Vedra Beach, St. Johns County

6805 Southpoint Parkway, Jacksonville, Duval County

R.G. Skinner Parkway, Jacksonville, Duval County

1736 Cassat Ave., Jacksonville, Duval County

Type: Thornton Park Luxury Apartment Homes Size: 29.87 acres Buyer: Centennial Thornton Park LLC Seller: EPOCH Thornton Park Apartments LLC Previous sale: $61,620,000 in 2015

Type: Retail center Size: 6.71 acres Buyer: NNN Ponte Vedra FL Owner LP Seller: PX Ponte Vedra LP Previous sale: $9,000,000 in 2012

Type: Office/industrial Size: 16.97 acres Buyer: ME Jacksonville FL Landlord LLC Seller: SCIP 6805 LLC Previous sale: $3,600,000 in 2015

Type: Vacant multifamily Size: 12.38 acres Buyer: DFC East Village LLC Seller: Eastland Timber LLC

Type: Automotive sales Size: 9.69 acres Buyer: Verde Investments Inc. Seller: Drivetime Car Sales Co. LLC Previous sale: $1,900,000 in 2017






4548 Mundy Drive S., Jacksonville, Duval County

919 King St., Jacksonville, Duval County

7911 Blanding Blvd., Jacksonville, Duval County

104 Newport Lane, Ponte Vedra Beach, St. Johns County

1177 Park Ave., Orange Park, Clay County

Type: Single-family Size: 1.32 acres Buyer: Charles P. and Anne F. Koch Seller: Jacqueline W. Nichols Previous sale: $355,000 in 1984

Type: Restaurant Size: 0.24 acres Buyer: Land Trust Service Corp. and Riverside Equities Trust Seller: C By L Properties LLC Previous sale: $280,000 in 2004

Type: Convenience store Size: 0.72 acres Buyer: Blanding and Collins LLC Seller: Louis L. Huntley Enterprises Inc. Previous sale: $500,000 in 2003

Type: Single-family Size: 0.51 acres Buyer: Jeff D. and Priscilla Klotz Seller: Andrew D. and Jennifer MacDonald Previous sale: $1,193,100 in 2012

Type: Park Avenue Plaza Shopping Center Size: 1.81 acres Buyer: SBN 1177 LLC Seller: SBL Orange Park Investments Ltd. Previous sale: $1,040,000

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Zaffaroni: Boosting revenue, workforce CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1

Zaffaroni had no experience in the landscape industry, but he had several connections that put him in touch with Cannon and the sale was completed. Zaffaroni set out to put all his effort into expanding his new company. “We made a couple of good decisions, such as adding plants and trees,” Zaffaroni said. “We originally just sold mulch and stone.” Deciding to add flora was another learning curve. “I had some people on staff who certainly knew what they were talking about. They (plants and trees) now make up close to 48 percent of the revenue,” Zaffaroni said. His customers include contractors and homeowners. Liberty Landscape Supply has about 2,000 items in its inventory. The grounds of the North Main Street location are dotted with palm trees, stacks of rocks, plants growing under the shaded shelter of an awning and piles of mulch and pine straw. With increased revenue came an increase in his workforce, recently topping three dozen. Zaffaroni also has added a farm in Hilliard where he grows small plants that he’d otherwise buy from another supplier. He foresees expansion and the addition of another location, most likely further south into Jacksonville. “We’re busting at the seams,” Zaffaroni said. “We will have space issues here.” He hasn’t earmarked a location. “There are areas of Jacksonville where there’s not a business like this one and we would probably target those areas first,” he said. In a sign of his inclination to lean south in Jacksonville, Zaffaroni moved into a house with his wife, Christi, in Springfield a few blocks off Main Street. Zaffaroni’s 22-year-old stepson, Tharin Hessenauer, works with him at Liberty Landscape. WHAT OTHERS SAY

Jacksonville City Council member Reggie Gaffney, who represents the North Main Street area, said he was more than willing to guide Zaffaroni through the city’s rezoning process to grow the business. Gaffney said Zaffaroni is a prime example of how business could expand in that area. Gaffney said Zaffaroni is “doing a tremendous job,” “It tells you that Jacksonville is growing,

Photo by Drew Dixon

Mike Zaffaroni, owner of Liberty Landscape Supply, has about 2,000 items in his inventory and is looking to expand.

especially on the Northside of town,” Gaffney said. Gaffney said when businesses come to town, “we often hear that they’re all going to the Southside.” “I can tell you that new businesses are also going to the Northside. You can see the boom in small businesses in the likes of Mike and others,” Gaffney said. Gaffney credited Zaffaroni’s personality for the success. “The enthusiasm that he has and he’s just so assured of what he’s doing,” Gaffney said. “He’s genuine and hardworking.” Carlton Robinson, vice president of entrepreneurial growth for JAX Chamber, said Zaffaroni took a traditional business and expanded it. Zaffaroni hasn’t relied on new technology or an emerging market to make his success. “While a lot of us push toward higher-growth companies that are in the tech or health care fields, Mike is an example of how to execute specific strategies and

achieve growth,” Robinson said. “He really had a good perspective in terms of what his business was, in terms of its assets. He was really big on finding the right people,” Robinson said. Zaffaroni participated in the JAX Bridges program through the chamber that focused on business and revenue models for small business entrepreneurs. Robinson said Zaffaroni absorbed the techniques and was a model of turning those theories into practical and tangible success. “I think Liberty Landscape demonstrates the ways entrepreneurs can have an impact in terms of jobs, in terms of overall growth. Most importantly, it doesn’t have to be a business in a high-growth area in order to achieve high growth,” Robinson said. He said Zaffaroni’s strategy can be replicated across the region. PRUNING THE PATH

Zaffaroni, 38, said his career path has taken an unexpected

turn or two and he admitted he didn’t see himself in the landscaping business. But as his company continues to grow, he’s glad he took the risk and bought the business. “I passionately love what I do for a living,” Zaffaroni said. He said he branched out into different businesses since buying the landscaping firm. In 2009 he bought a sign business and sold it at a profit. He lost money when in 2012 he bought a car dealership and it went under. He intends to keep his roots in landscaping. “In the different businesses that I’ve been in, this is by far and away my favorite. I see tremendous growth potential,” he said. Zaffaroni said his motivation is “watching this business grow and just the challenge behind it.” “I started with basically one employee and now I have 37, that’s the single thing I’m most proud of,” he said. “In some respects, I wish I

MIKE ZAFFARONI Age: 37 Business: Liberty Landscape Supply Award: JAX Chamber Small Business Leader of the Year Quote: “In the different businesses that I’ve been in, this is by far and away my favorite. I see tremendous growth potential.”

would have gotten into it earlier. I was 27 when I bought it. I don’t know exactly what to make of it, yet,” Zaffaroni said. While he’s proud of the progress, he knows “there’s so much more to do.”

Council: Pittman ready to ‘showcase my experience’ CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1

the Rules Committee. Freeman will join the Neighborhoods, Community Services, Public Health and Safety Committee and the Transportation, Energy and Utilities Committee. Scott formally announced the appointments Tuesday morning after the Daily Record confirmed the selections Monday evening. RESIDENCY CONCERNS

Freeman is a former council aide to Bowman, and is currently a regional director for the Ygrene Energy Fund Jacksonville office. As of Tuesday morning, he also was a resident of the Mandarin area, which is in District 6

in southeast Jacksonville. His residency triggered questions about his eligibility to represent District 10, which comprises an area in northwest Jacksonville. According to the city’s Office of General Counsel, Freeman is required to live in the district before being sworn in, and not at the time of Scott’s announcement. Freeman secured residency in the district Tuesday night and by doing so, he also now has an opportunity to run for the seat in 2019. The city charter requires candidates to be residents in the district they want to represent 183 days before the election qualifying period, which is Jan. 7 through Jan. 11. Freeman could not be reached


Pittman had no such issues establishing residency as she has two homes in District 8. She is the CEO and president on the nonprofit Clara White Mission. Tuesday, she expressed gratitude in being able to serve on council – a position that’s eluded her more than once. Most recently, in 2015 she lost in a race against At-Large Group 5 representative Sam Newby. “This is an opportunity for me to showcase my experience and my knowledge of the district and the needs of the residents,” said Pittman.

“I live in the district and I think I can bring new leadership and new ideas for the constituents,” she said. Pittman said she wants to focus on jobs and programs for youth in the predominantly AfricanAmerican district which covers most of Northwest Jacksonville. “I want to be the voice for them on council, and to do that, I need to get other council members involved so we can create solutions,” she said. She said the issues and disparities in the area “didn’t happen overnight,” and that residents should understand that “solutions aren’t going to happen overnight either.” “But that doesn’t mean we’re

not going to get to work,” she said. Pittman declined to comment on Katrina Brown’s and Reginald Brown’s federal indictments, other than to say it was a sad situation. “I’m sorry the situation happened, but I’m not one to judge anyone,” she said. “It needs to play out.” Pittman also is hoping the next year provides momentum for a run for the permanent seat in 2019. “I’m all in,” she said. “I’m ready to go.” DCAWTON@ JAXDAILYRECORD.COM @DAVIDCAWTON (904) 356-2466


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These are the largest commercial building permits by price issued Monday and Tuesday by the city of Jacksonville. AMUSEMENT RECREATION City of Jacksonville, 1061 Line St., contractor is Warden Contracting Corp., ADA upgrade to Westside Community Center, $23,274. APARTMENTS Jacksonville Housing Authority, 7844 Gregory Drive, contractor is Sweetwater Restoration Inc., two permits for window replacement, $51,034. Canterbury Garden Apartments, 1591 Lane Ave. S., contractor is Bemar Services Inc., 22 permits for handrail repair, $22,000. HOSPITAL, INSTITUTIONAL The Windsor at San Pablo, 4000 San Pablo Parkway, contractor is Delta Aventura Construction Corp., diesel tank installation, $65,000. The Windsor at Ortega, 5939 Roosevelt Blvd., contractor is Delta Aventura Construction Corp., diesel tank installation, $65,000. OFFICE, BANK, PROFESSIONAL Department of Highway Safety, 9550 Regency Square Blvd., No. 100, contractor is International Management Co. LLC, 3,140 square feet, tenant build-out, $187,845. MCCI Medical Group, 7077 Bonneval Road, No. 606, contractor is Wilson & Co. Inc., 3,810 square feet, tenant expansion, $160,000. ZVRS, 8823 San Jose Blvd., No. 310, contractor is International Management Co. LLC, 4,171 square feet, tenant build-out, $125,750. OTHER Evergreen Cemetery, 4535 N. Main St., contractor is Ken Dear Inc., 2,585 square feet, new building, $299,460. RESTAURANTS McDonald’s, 11310 Beach Blvd., contractor is Stansell Properties & Development LLC, 3,688 square feet, renovation, $300,000. Jimmy Fu’s, 9100 Merrill Road, No. 14, contractor is R&R General Contractors Inc., 1,400 square feet, tenant buildout, $163,337. ROOFING Vera Jacksonville Apartments, 13051 Gran Bay Parkway, contractor is Turnkey Construction Planners Inc.,


Thursday, July 12, 2018 • Page 11

five permits for new roof, $300,000. The Landings at Belle Rive Condominium Association Inc., 10200 Belle Rive Blvd., contractor is American Roofing of Jacksonville LLC, roof replacement, $30,500. Virsad Properties LLC, 1840 Southside Blvd., contractor is Taylormade Roofing Inc., roof replacement, $28,000. Splash Jax Swim School LLC, 1856 Davidson St., contractor is James Shelton Roofing Inc., new roof, $18,800. Chiaravalloti Living Trust, 2801 N. Main St., contractor is Quality Discount Roofing LLC, roof replacement, $12,000. SIGNS Target, 9041 Southside Blvd., contractor is Dowling Signs of North Central Florida LLC, three permits for wall signs, $12,000. JAX Storage Solutions, 4700 Walgreen Road, contractor is CNS Signs Inc., ground sign, $12,000. Jacksonville Pediatric Associates, 4972 Town Center Parkway, No. 301, contractor is Shark Signs of NE FL Inc., two permits for wall signs, $8,500. Watson Title, Services of North Florida Inc., contractor is Taylor Sign & Design Inc., 3951 Baymeadows Road, wall sign, $4,000. Case Construction Trekker Group, 9235 Busch Drive, contractor is B&S Signs Inc., wall sign, $3,200. Nudo Restaurant, 10111 San Jose Blvd., No. 9, contractor is Taylor Sign & Design Inc., wall sign, $2,445. Hair Revolution Salon, 13820 Old St. Augustine Road, No. 217, contractor is Shark Signs of NE FL Inc., wall sign, $2,300. V Pizza, 12601 San Jose Blvd., contractor is Shark Signs of NE FL Inc., wall sign, $2,000. UTILITIES AT&T, 6763 Firestone Road, contractor is Ericsson Inc., cell tower upgrade, $65,000. AT&T, 8831 Moncrief-Dinsmore Road, contractor is Ericsson Inc., cell tower upgrade, $65,000. Sprint, 4355 Arthur Durham Drive E., contractor is Crown Castle USA, cell tower upgrade, $65,000. Compiled by Scott Sailer

Cathedral Arts Project raises $100,000: The Delores Barr Weaver Matching Challenge helped raise $100,000 for the Cathedral Arts Project’s 25th anniversary. Weaver pledged $25,000 if $75,000 could be donated to support the 2017-18 school year. The project supports local students receiving instruction in dance, theatre, music and visual arts. Memorial Hospital honored: Memorial Hospital was awarded The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. The award acknowledges efforts to ensure stroke patients get treatment according to nationally identified, research-based guidelines based on current scientific evidence. UNF ranked: The University of North Florida is ranked 14th in the Top 50 Online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science programs for 2018 by Best College Reviews. Programs were ranked using the National Center for Education Statistics’ College Navigator database. The rankings also considered tuition, U.S. News and World Report recognition, customization and “wow” factor.

Special to the Daily Record

Gate convenience stores raised $68,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation by collecting customer donations.

$68,000 raised for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation: The GATE Foundation collected $68,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. In April, Gate convenience store customers donated by buying JDRF $1 paper sneakers at stores in Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina. Compiled by Scott Sailer


Revitalizing Downtown: Power on and don’t let up A healthy and vibrant Downtown is needed to attract a 21st century workforce. BY STEVE CROSBY FORMER NATIONAL NAIOP CHAIRMAN

Cities and regions are defined by many things. Some are God-given, like our beaches and waterways. Some are enhanced by generations of care and attention, like our natural and historic preserves. Others are of our own making, like our growing airport, competitive seaport, extensive highway system, responsive public utility, increasingly innovative bus system, fabulous cultural resources, world-class recreational opportunities, an NFL team to be feared, a baseball team with a catchy name, and so on. But as anyone who has been involved in economic development, business recruiting, conventions or investment attraction in the past 10 years will tell you, cities and regions are defined by the vitality of their workforce and their downtowns. If we want to grow into a competitive 21st century economy and attract a 21st century workforce, we have to have a healthy and vibrant Downtown. Strong downtowns mean new companies, new jobs, new developments, new amenities, new energy and new taxable value. Leveraging the in-place infrastructure and growing this tax base helps us all. A Downtown revitalization is possible. Tampa has done it, Orlando has done it, Fort Lauderdale has done it and even Sarasota has done it. Jacksonville is starting to do it too — and if we want our region’s economy and quality of life to stay competitive, we can’t let up. Jacksonville has a strong spirit and an ability to accomplish things that even larger cities have not. We have a strong sense of community and entrepreneurs who want to work and live in an urban environment. We have a large stock of older buildings that lend themselves to adaptive re-use and the creation of fun and innovative spaces. There are more than a dozen

Steve Crosby

empty buildings within just a couple of blocks of City Hall. Private-public partnerships are how development projects get done in up-and-coming cities across America. Small local developers and entrepreneurs you’ve probably never heard of are taking the pioneering risks. Our elected officials and local advocates are pulling on the same oar. Maybe most importantly, a legion of deeply caring folks toil tirelessly in the background connecting, collaborating, innovating, problem-solving, cheerleading and supporting this restoration of a healthy Downtown. There are lots of reasons to believe in our Downtown renaissance. Most indicators are back to pre-recession levels according to the upcoming State of Downtown report from local nonprofit Downtown Vision Inc. Critical infrastructure and environmental improvements continue as well. Development is on the rise thanks to crucial investment by the city’s Downtown Investment Authority. The DIA has been very successful in leveraging private investment and in positively affecting the region, but it needs continued and sufficient funding. We have the talent to make this happen. We just need the will and the commitment. Like my trainer says at the gym, we make progress one pushup at a time. Or in this case, one project at a time. The result will be worth it. We need to stay the course, fund the effort appropriately and power on. STEVE CROSBY IS A RETIRED CSX REAL ESTATE EXECUTIVE AND VOLUNTEER CEO OF LOCAL PATIENT CAPITAL INITIATIVE, INVESTJAX.

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Jake Gordon came to town three years ago as CEO of Downtown Vision Inc. from an economic development career in New Jersey. Before that he practiced law in Los Angeles. The nonprofit DVI provides advocacy and services for a 90-block business improvement district. He lives in San Marco, near Downtown. Generally, Downtown is doing very well. The credit belongs to Mayor Lenny Curry, City Council, the Downtown Investment Authority and its CEO, Aundra Wallace. Then you see Steve Atkins putting all his resources into the Laura Street Trio and the Barnett Building. There’s a lot of investment coming into Downtown.

already practice radical candor. I am a pretty honest and upfront straight-shooter person.

I’m in a little Downtown bubble. I try to talk to everyone in Jacksonville and other places. A better Downtown Jacksonville is better for everyone, even if you never come here. You see that with big urban centers. They are the engines for economic activity with a ripple effect that is unbelievably beneficial to the surrounding communities.

I read “Into Thin Air” about the 1996 tragedies at Mount Everest and Everest Base Camp and became enamored with that story. When I graduated college, I saved up to take a trip to Nepal and I trekked to Everest Base Camp. I met a guy who said his goal was to climb the highest point in all 50 states*. I was like, “That’s a thing?”

It’s interesting that people think our challenges are unique. I don’t find them very unique. Everywhere around the country is struggling with transient, homeless individuals. I think it’s good to take those best practices in other places that have worked and make them uniquely Jacksonville and make sure that they make sense for us.

He gave me a book. When I was studying in law school for finals, I used to look at it and think about climbing high points in the states. From 2001-11 is when I got to them.

What Downtown needs more of is people. Right now we’re at 4,450 residents Downtown. Once we get to 10,000, things start happening. The retail on the street becomes a lot more viable. Florida State College at Jacksonville, Jacksonville University and the University of North Florida have put part of their campus Downtown. I don’t think you can underestimate how important that is for the

One of my hobbies is highpointing. I had a goal since law school of climbing the highest point in all 50 states. I only have four states I’m missing. I need Alaska, which is the hardest one, Wyoming, Montana and Oregon.

Special to the Daily Record

success of Downtown and for the success of those universities and our city. I love being in this Downtown community. There are a lot of things in Downtown that are fun, so I feel that I am always working. I do have two small children – 7 and 5 – and they are a huge amount of my time. I feel like the only time I’m truly not working is when I’m traveling. I’ve got a bunch of books. I just got “Radical Candor” by Kim Scott because I feel like I

There’s something human about being very high up in the air. I don’t have any fear of heights. I have an exhilaration that comes with heights. It shows how small we are and how much natural beauty there is in the world. The secret cool thing about Downtown is with Florida being so low, geographically, if you go to The River Club on the 35th floor, you can almost see all the way to the beach. KMATHIS@JAXDAILYRECORD.COM @MATHISKB (904) 356-2466

* Florida’s highest point is Britton Hill, 345 feet above sea level, near the Alabama border.


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ABOUT GORDON Title: CEO Organization: Downtown Vision Inc. Age: 41 Education: Bachelor of Arts, University of California San Diego, 1999; J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School, 2003. Family: Wife, Dana; son, Alex, 7; daughter, Samantha, 5. Hometown: Pennington, New Jersey, and Palo Alto, California. Hobbies: Traveling and hiking. Goal is to climb to the highest point in all 50 states. By 2011, reached the goal in 46 states; still needs Alaska, Montana, Oregon and Wyoming.

Jacksonville Record & Observer 7/12/18  
Jacksonville Record & Observer 7/12/18