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- 2012 - November - 20th -

Jacksonville Zoo plans filed for Asia Precinct expansion

by Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is preparing for an Asia Precinct expansion, shown on plans filed with the City and the St. Johns River Water Management District as a seven-structure exhibit on 2.75 acres of undeveloped property within the North Jacksonville zoo.

Diane David, director of development at the zoo, said Monday the project was in a quiet period as the zoo continued to raise funds for it.

She said the zoo was not ready to release details of the project.

Plans show the Jacksonville Zoo Monsoon Asia area and outline a development that will provide for seven new structures to house the animals, provide viewing shelters for guests and event space; associated walking paths; waterfalls; and expansion of the existing master pond to accommodate and treat the additional runoff.

Plans show 5,500 square feet of tiger-holding and event space and other holding space.

A project description shows the Asia Precinct expansion will be in the southeastern corner of the zoo.

In addition to the tiger holding and event space, there will be exhibit areas and a 1,300-square-foot pig and otter holding facility, a 940-square-foot hornbill holding area and a 1,125-square-foot mixed species pig holding facility.

The engineer is Prosser Hallock.

David said the zoo was trying to raise $10 million for the expansion and a couple of other elements that she declined to discuss.

If the fundraising is successful, "we hope we can open this for our 100-year anniversary in 2014," she said.

The zoo operates at 370 Zoo Parkway. It was established in 1914 in Springfield Park and acquired its current property in 1924, according to its website, jacksonvillezoo.org.

The zoo opened with the donation of one red deer fawn, with several domestic animals and a "monkey island" added later. In 1925, the Municipal Zoo relocated to its present site bordering the Trout River.

It started with 37.5 acres and continued to grow, reaching 89 acres in 1992. On Oct. 20, 1993, the name was changed from the Jacksonville Zoological Park to the Jacksonville Zoological Gardens.

According to the website, by the end of the 1960s, the zoo is reputed to have had the largest collection of exotic animals in the Southeast, but it had fallen on hard times. Community leaders, under the direction of Mayor Hans Tanzler, appointed a seven-member committee to search for an alternative to closing the Zoo.

The Jacksonville Zoological Society began managing the zoo in 1971, having grown from the seven-member committee to 85 City and community leaders.

According to the website, the City contracts with the society to manage all phases of the operation of the zoo. All property, including animals and equipment, and all improvements, belong to the City, which in turn contributes an annual subsidy to offset some of the zoo's operating expenses.

The website says all other zoo expenses are paid through revenues earned from admission and concession sales, membership and adoption, and group sales.

A major redevelopment began in 1992. Through River City Renaissance funds and private donations, $22.5 million was raised to complete the first phase of the master plan.

Projects completed included a new front entry gate and parking lot, the Main Camp Safari Lodge, Birds of the Rift Valley Aviary, Great Apes of the World, an expanded train ride, an elephant and breeding complex, River Branch Foundation Animal Medical Center, the PepsiCo Foundation Education Campus and redevelopment of the 11-acre Plains of East Africa. The last project of the 1992 plan, a Florida wetlands attraction, "Wild Florida," opened in March 2001.

In March 2002, the zoo opened the Outback Steakhouse Australian Adventure. Range of the Jaguar opened in March 2004. In March 2005, the Wildlife Carousel opened to the public.

In April 2005 the redesigned viewing area for the giraffes, called Giraffe Overlook, and the first botanical gardens, Savanna Blooms, opened. The main path was redesigned and widened. Play Park opened in the late spring of 2006.

In September 2007, the latest addition, the Gardens at Trout River Plaza, opened. It serves as the gateway to the Asian Bamboo Gardens that opened in spring 2009 with the Komodo dragon exhibit.

The zoo announced in October attendance reached a record 801,642 for its fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, up 49,700 from the previous year.

Clements to speak to Economic Roundtable

EverBank Financial Corp. Chairman and CEO Rob Clements is scheduled as the keynote speaker next week to the Economic Roundtable of Jacksonville.

Clements will talk about "Going Public and Sustaining Innovation."

Jacksonville-based EverBank went public in May. It has $16.5 billion in assets and $11.8 billion in deposits, as of Sept. 30.

The event is planned at 11:30 a.m. next Tuesday, Nov. 27, at the Jacksonville University Davis College of Business.

For costs and other information, contact Daniel Gilham at (904) 351-7661 or daniel.gilham@wellsfargoadvisors.com.

Water management review

The St. Johns River Water Management District is reviewing several more projects, including:

• Charter Schools Development Group LLC of Orlando proposes a 65,000-square-foot charter school at southwest 103rd Street and Rockola Road in West Jacksonville. Charter's managing members are Charles H. Cordes and Thomas Hankinson.

• New Berlin LLC proposes clearing about 3.75 acres along New Berlin Road north of Heckscher Drive for a commercial development.

• University & Spring Park LLC wants to convert a furniture store into a meat and produce market with pavement replacement for the Freshfields Farm Meat & Produce Market along University Boulevard at Spring Park Road. The ownership group of Freshfields is the same family as the owners of University & Spring Park LLC. As reported, Freshfields Farm of Orlando plans to convert the former Liberty Furniture at 5555 University Blvd. W. into a produce and meat market.

• Panera Bread wants to add a drive-thru lane at its bakery-café in Clay County at 1510 County Road 220.

Leadership Jacksonville seeks nominations

Leadership Jacksonville is seeking nominations for its next classes for its adult and Collegiate Leadership Experience programs.

Nominations are due Jan. 11 for Leadership Jacksonville. Applications are then due Jan. 31 and selection interviews will be March 18-April 29. The class will be announced mid-May.

For the Collegiate Leadership Experience, nominations are due Feb. 22 and applications are due March 22. Interviews will be April 2-16 and the class will be announced in early May.

For information, visit leadershipjax.org.

kmathis@baileypub.com

@MathisKb

(904) 356-2466

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