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BoatUS is expanding its Southwest Jacksonville center.
Jax Daily Record Friday, Oct. 14, 201612:00 PM EST

BoatUS to hire up to 50 workers for expanding service center


BoatUS intends to hire 40 to 50 employees next year to staff its expanding Southwest Jacksonville service center in the Lake Gray Commerce Center.

Brief for Boat Owners Association of The United States, BoatUS employs 156 full-time workers at the office, at 6255 Lake Gray Blvd., to handle Geico and BoatUS Marine Insurance sales and claims service, along with TowBoatUS on water and roadside towing dispatch.

BoatUS is owned by Geico, which stands for Government Employees Insurance Co.

The center opened in 2006, although the group started its first Jacksonville office in another location in 1998 with two employees.

D. Scott Croft, vice president of public affairs with BoatUS, said the expansion stems from growth of the recreational boat insurance business both with Geico and BoatUS Marine Insurance Program and increased TowBoatUS 24-hour dispatch capacity to assist boaters.

He said the TowBoat assistance includes boaters with on-water troubles like dead batteries, breakdowns, soft-ungroundings, fuel drop-offs and tows back to docks or launch ramps.

Croft said it responded last year to more than 70,000 requests for assistance nationwide.

The city is reviewing a permit application for a 6,117-square-foot expansion to BoatUS’s 18,818-square-foot center, creating an almost 25,000-square-foot operation.

No contractor is listed for the $130,000 project.

Croft advises job candidates to visit for the Jacksonville opportunities.

Alexandria, Va.-based BoatUS says it is the nation’s largest advocacy, services and safety organization for recreational boaters and has operated for 50 years.

It has almost 533,900 members who pay annual dues of $24.

BoatUS said there are 601 towboats in its towing fleet and it receives more than 70,500 annual requests for on-water assistance.

The company employs almost 600 people at its headquarters and 24-hour nationwide dispatch centers and insurance sales and claims offices in Jacksonville and in Costa Mesa, Calif.

Founded in 1966, BoatUS was sold in 2007 to a Berkshire Hathaway Inc. subsidiary, National Indemnity Co. On Jan. 1, 2015, it was transferred in a change of ownership to Geico, another Berkshire Hathaway company.

First Watch files plans for 2 locations

First Watch, The Daytime Café, filed site plans for a restaurant at the Shoppes at Bartram Park and applied for a permit to build-out space for a location in Village Commons in Southside,

The permit application shows First Watch Restaurants Inc. would build-out a 130-seat location at 4492 Southside Blvd. at a construction cost of $300,000. No contractor was listed.

First Watch would lease 3,444 square feet of enclosed space and 1,414 square feet of outdoor space for patio seating at the end unit of the center, which will be developed by Rimrock Development as Rimrock Southside LLC.

The site plans for the Shoppes at Bartram Park show First Watch would occupy a 3,400-square-foot building planned at 13820 Old St. Augustine Road. Regency Centers L.P. is listed as the developer.

First Watch is a breakfast-brunch-lunch café that already operates area locations at the Riverplace shopping center in Mandarin, in Hodges Pointe Plaza along Beach Boulevard and South Beach Regional Shopping Center in Jacksonville Beach.

First Watch is based in University Park near Bradenton in Southwest Florida.

4 more McDonald’s getting kiosks

Four more McDonald’s restaurants are adding customer kiosks for its Signature Crafted program, boosting the number of Duval County locations involved in the update to 15.

The latest are at 253 E. State St. Downtown, 9841 Atlantic Blvd. in the Regency area, 5911 New Kings Road in Northwest Jacksonville and 5451 Roosevelt Blvd. in West Jacksonville.

Renovations range from $20,000 to $25,000 each to add two kiosks that will allow customers to custom-build their sandwiches.

The program should be available next year in most of the 52 Duval County McDonald’s restaurants.

Sulzbacher Village to break ground Dec. 9

Ground-breaking is scheduled Dec. 9 on Sulzbacher Village, which will provide permanent housing to single women, female veterans and families.

The three-story project is designed at 5455 Springfield Blvd., at northeast Springfield Boulevard and East 44th Street. The property is owned by Wesley Fellowship Inc.

Plans show there will be 70 one- and two-bedroom residences, as well as 54 units for women and families who need short-term emergency housing and medical respite.

The Village should open in late 2017.

Cushman & Wakefield marketing warehouse

Cushman & Wakefield reports that a 244,000-square-foot warehouse at 9431 Florida Mining Blvd. E. will be available for lease in January — and its exclusive leasing agents envision a regional or national headquarters.

The location is near Interstates 95 and 295 in the Southside.

Director Tyler Newman and Associate Director Jacob Horsley said the almost 18-acre site includes another 3 acres for expansion. The structure, built in 2005, includes 20,000 square feet of office space.

Newman said its large office component, modern finishes, attractive location and expansion capacity could support a large workforce. He called it “ideal for ecommerce or pharmaceutical uses.”

The warehouse at one time accommodated Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals.

Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. bought Ranbury Laboratories Ltd. in March 2015. Both are based in India.

A Sun Pharma spokesman said Thursday by email the company had no comment about the Jacksonville Ranbaxy facility.

Water Management to permit large projects

The St. Johns River Water Management District decided to grant permits for several large projects:

• The East San Marco commercial-residential project on 3.25 acres at Hendricks Avenue and Atlantic Boulevard

• A proposed 1,256-space parking garage on 4.15-acres at the Baptist Medical Center South campus along Old St. Augustine Road

• The 61-acre Powers Bay Business Center along Philips Highway south of Florida 9B

• The proposed shopping center at Max Leggett Parkway and North Main Street by Old No. 1 Partners LLC, partnership of North Jacksonville landowner Steve Leggett and brothers Robin and Chris Sorensen, founders of Firehouse Subs.

• The Texas Roadhouse restaurant at Town Center Promenade.

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