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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Jan. 7, 202105:20 AM EST

10 People to Watch in 2021

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When it comes to progress in Northeast Florida in the new year, these are the people who will be driving headlines.
Jay Stowe

Jay Stowe

Managing Director and CEO, JEA

Jay Stowe, the new CEO of Jacksonville’s municipal water and electric utility since Nov. 30, inherited an organization cooperating in a federal grand jury probe and preparing a five-year, $2.5 billion capital investment plan. 

His hiring ended a 1½-year period that saw an attempt to sell JEA to a private company, resulting in U.S. Department of Justice and City Council investigations and the firing of former CEO Aaron Zahn and his senior leadership team.

Stowe plans to repair trust within JEA while moving on plans to invest $1.6 million to modernize its its water and wastewater system. 

He wants to stabilize JEA’s use of the Floridan aquifer and diversify the utility’s water sources. On the electric side, he plans to use JEA’s purchase power agreement with the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia in nuclear Plant Vogtle and its 250 megawatts of solar generation expected online by 2022 to mitigate fuel costs and reach carbon dioxide emission reduction goals. 

Bruce Fafard

Bruce Fafard

CEO, MOSH

When 11-year Museum of Science & History President Maria Hane stepped down in August, Bruce Fafard took the reigns of the museum as it planned for its $80 million to $90 million expansion and renovation.

Fafard was serving as COO of MOSH when he was appointed interim CEO in August and now is the permanent CEO.

Fafard will plan the museum’s move to the Shipyards from the Downtown Southbank and oversee the MOSH Genesis campaign, which will fund the new facility. 

He is involved in discussions with the Downtown Investment Authority and the city to secure a 4-acre site for the museum. He could oversee the start of preconstruction in 2021 as the project works toward completion in 2024.

Thea Jeffers

Thea Jeffers

Owner, Breezy Jazz Club

Breezy Jazz Club owner Thea Jeffers will sound a note as the new jazz club on the Downtown Southbank.

She relocated her 3-year-old live music venue in December from a 2,892-square-foot site on West Adams Street Downtown to a 4,450-square-foot space at 1402 San Marco Blvd., boosting seating from 100 to 155.

Jeffers said in October she doesn’t see the move as leaving Downtown, but as growth.

“We are hoping that it is so attractive that local jazz artists and jazz students will consider that their home,” she said.

“I am really trying to be part of the Downtown community.”

The Southern Illinois University at Carbondale graduate is a dual-entrepreneur and plans to continue operating her first company, T-works Interior Decorating. 

Jeffers has owned the company since February 2005 that designs interior and exterior remodeling projects for commercial and residential properties.

Anthony Hucker

Anthony Hucker

President and CEO, Southeastern Grocers Inc.

Anthony Hucker is in a position to make Southeastern Grocers Inc. what could be Jacksonville’s fourth-largest public company based on revenue.

As the president and CEO of Winn-Dixie’s parent company, Hucker leads the private Southeastern Grocers as it pursues an initial public offering to sell shares – again becoming one of the country’s largest supermarket chains and earning a ranking in the Fortune 500.

Southeastern Grocers went private nine years ago and through Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2018.

After the IPO, It will operate more than 420 grocery stores under the Winn-Dixie, Harveys and Fresco y Mas banners in five states, which it said makes it the sixth-largest conventional supermarket operator in the U.S.

The 420 stores produced $6.7 billion in revenue in 2019.

Through 2020, it invested in 41 new and renewed grocery stores, including several former Earth Fare and Lucky’s Markets.

Alex Sifakis

Alex Sifakis

President, JWB Real Estate Capital

It seems as if Alex Sifakis is involved in most Downtown development projects.

He is working on completing the Ashley Street Container Lofts while redeveloping several North Core buildings, including the Porter Mansion and the Federal Reserve, Baptist Convention and the Seminole buildings.

Plans include apartments and restaurant, business, banquet and office space.

Across the river in Arlington, he is spearheading the redevelopment of the Town & Country Shopping Center, now rebranded College Park. It is expected to include a grocery store, apartments, public open space and a shipping container food court. 

He also hints at more projects.

Ellen Wiss

Ellen Wiss

President, Homkor Florida Inc.

Ellen Wiss is a community volunteer and a Downtown Jacksonville investor. Both roles continue into 2021.

She and her husband, Jim Wiss, bought nearly a full city block of the First Baptist Church Downtown campus before the pandemic and said they could invest $25 million for adaptive reuse of the site. They see Downtown Jacksonville “at the edge of a resurgence” and intend to buy more property.

In community service, she co-founded Read USA Inc., which encourages lifelong learning to end the cycle of poverty, and is a lifetime legacy member of the Women’s Giving Alliance. She also has served on the boards of the World Affairs Council, City Year, Teach for America, Hubbard House Foundation, JAX Chamber and more. Her focus is to work with nonprofits to improve literacy, education, health and economic opportunities for low-income youth and families, women and girls.

Mark Lamping

Mark Lamping

President, Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars President Mark Lamping, who is team owner Shad Khan’s lead negotiator, will spend the early part of 2021 securing City Council support for a $245.3 million public incentives package for the franchise and development partner The Cordish Companies’ proposed $450 million Lot J project.

Lamping and the Jaguars are pitching the entertainment, retail and residential venue as a catalyst for development in the Downtown Sports and Entertainment District.

If Council approves the Lot J incentives, Lamping plans to begin negotiations with the Downtown Investment Authority on Khan’s proposed Four Seasons hotel and a medical and residential development at Metropolitan Park and the city-owned Shipyards property. 

 He also started a three-year assessment of TIAA Bank Field’s infrastructure needs with the city and the Haskell construction and engineering firm.

In his eight years with the Jaguars, the former 14-season president of Major League Baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals has become Khan’s spokesperson.

Andy Allen

Andy Allen

CEO, Corner Lot Development Group

Corner Lot Development Group CEO Andy Allen grew the company in 2020, including creating the Corner Lot Living brand that focuses on multifamily development and buying a Riverside historic building to house those employees. 

That growth is expected to continue in 2021 as he plans to add three new employees to Corner Lot Living in 2021. The branch will have five multifamily projects underway as the new year begins. 

Corner Lot’s Park Place apartments project in San Marco, on part of South Jacksonville Presbyterian Church’s property, is expected to break ground in 2021. It will add 133 units adjacent to San Marco Square. 

Allen’s plans with Kelco Management and Development Inc. to construct a Home2 Suites by Hilton in Brooklyn likely also will move ahead in the coming year. It will bring another lodging option in the rapidly growing Brooklyn neighborhood, between Downtown and Riverside.

Bryan Greiner

Bryan Greiner

President, Augustine Development Group

Bryan Greiner is Augustine Development Group LLC president and leads Axis Income Fund, which identifies multifamily and hospitality investments in low-supply markets. His focus is the Caribbean Islands and the Southeastern United States.

Greiner executed more than $100 million in equity investments over the past five years, according to Augustine Development’s website. He is on advisory boards for two publicly traded companies.

The St. Augustine-based developer plans about $75 million in adaptive reuse and new construction in a two-block area in Downtown’s North Core. 

Through Axis Hotel LLC, his group plans to invest $15 million to renovate the former Ambassador Hotel into a TRYP by Wyndham Hotel.

Axis 404 Julia LLC is moving forward on a $30 million mixed-use restoration with a new addition to the historic Central National Bank Building, and PEP10 LLC plans a $30 million restoration of the historic Independent Life tower for apartments, a restaurant and grocery store.

Carlton Robinson

Carlton Robinson

Chief Innovation Officer, JAX Chamber

Carlton Robinson, the founder of JAX Chamber’s JAX Bridges program and its former vice president of entrepreneurial growth, took on a new role at year-end as the chamber’s chief innovation officer.

Robinson will help oversee the chamber’s new Venture Services division and innovation efforts.

That department will help address how businesses can access capital, foster innovation in their companies and grow talent from within. 

Robinson will help launch the Bridges Work and Learn Program, which will allow area large and small employers offer a work-and-learn opportunity. 

He also will lead the chamber’s Open Innovation Center, which will be in the Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center in LaVilla. It will serve as an innovation and technology training center for companies and entrepreneurs.

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