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Developers Peter Rummell, left, and Michael Balanky, who formed a partnership to develop "The Healthy Town."
Jax Daily Record Friday, Oct. 10, 201412:00 PM EST

Peter Rummell says Jacksonville could be 'cool place'


Peter Rummell, whose latest project is a pitch to develop “The Healthy Town” on the Downtown Southbank, was recognized Thursday night with the 2014 Visionary Leader Award by the Urban Land Institute North Florida.

As he accepted the award, he offered a vision for Jacksonville: A city that brings together the experienced 65-year-old and the ambitious 32-year-old, connecting ideas and capital.

“We need to figure out how to merge Austin and Naples. Jacksonville could be that place,” Rummell said, referring to the young-adult Texas mecca with the affluent southwest Florida retirement city.

“Jacksonville desperately needs an identity. If we could be that merged place, it could be simpatico. It could be that cool place.”

Rummell, who turns 69 on Monday, has spent more than 40 years developing real estate, including as the former chairman and CEO of The St. Joe Co.

Healthy Town is a proposed health-oriented housing and mixed-used project on almost 29 acres of the former JEA Southside Generating Station riverfront site.

Rummell bid with Jacksonville developer Michael Balanky to buy the site and develop the project. The bid is one of just two submitted to the JEA. Details of the two proposals should be made public Oct. 21.

Rummell and Balanky envision Healthy Town as a center for young and old, whose predominant common lifestyle is focused on optimal health.

“Healthy Town is what we think is a cool idea,” Rummell told the 140 participants at the annual “Awards For Excellence” event at WJCT Studios Downtown.

“We really want it here in Jacksonville,” he said.

Rummell also referred to this week’s unfolding news that Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan stopped funding the KYN business accelerator, which worked with startup companies. Khan said just 12 percent of the $1.1 million he invested went to the startups.

KYN’s founder is Elton Rivas, also the CEO of One Spark, which is based in Jacksonville. Rummell is the primary funder of One Spark, which completed its second Jacksonville run and its first in Berlin, and said it was fine.

He referenced the “dust-up” with Khan, “but that will pass.”

“We are in great shape. One Spark is Jacksonville-born and we want it very much to be Jacksonville-owned,” he said.

Rummell connected One Spark to his newest idea. “One Spark is built around the theme of the 32-year-old entrepreneur,” he said.

“As a 69-year-old, that’s been fine,” he said, explaining that 32-year-olds have a different view of the world.

“There also are a lot of cool 65-year-olds around,” he said.

The difference between the two are that the older person has experience, capital, a network and a Rolodex with solid contacts, along with credibility built over 40 years.

“There’s a funny kind of energy that comes when you’re playing the back nine,” he said about age. “You play a little faster, but you enjoy every shot you take.”

One Spark, he said, is identified with young people, “but it’s about everybody.”

He said he wants Healthy Town to attract both the 65- and 32-year-olds.

Convergence, Rummell said, “it’s the essence of an idea.”

He challenges the community to capture the energy of the out-of-town snowbirds who live part-time in the Ponte Vedra and Amelia Island resorts.

Those high-achieving visitors, he said, are successful and have capital, friends and expertise. Those assets need to be brought “into Jacksonville’s ecosystem.”

“Along the way, they will meet those 30-year-olds,” he said.

Rummell wants the city to be the place where “it’s cool to be young and it’s cool to be old.”

Rummell served as the chair of the global Urban Land Institute from mid-2011 to mid-2013.

Rummell, who leads Rummell Co. LLC, also is past chairman of the Florida Council of 100 and the Jacksonville Civic Council.

The Khan “dust-up” wasn’t the only Jaguars connection to the event. The master of ceremonies was Curtis Dvorak, who is the team mascot, Jaxson de Ville. He was featured in costume in videos that presented the award nominees.

The energetic, risk-taking mascot known for bungee-jumping, zip-lining and taking tumbles from high places came under fire for using the Ebola epidemic to mock the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Terrible Towels during the game Sunday.

During the game, Jaxson de Ville held up a handwritten sign late during the Jaguars’ 17-9 loss that read “TOWELS CARRY EBOLA” while carrying a yellow Terrible Towel in his right hand.

The Jaguars apologized Monday for the incident. Jaguars President Mark Lamping said “the person who has played Jaxson DeVille over the past 20 seasons made an extremely poor decision in that regard. The team was unaware of this inappropriate sign, which was hand-made by Jaxson during the fourth quarter of yesterday’s game, until after it had been displayed. We are handling the matter internally and taking it very seriously.”

At the ULI event, the professionally dressed and composed Dvorak didn’t address the situation, instead focusing on the development projects submitted for the awards.

He thanked EverBank Field contractor Preston Haskell for constructing “the stuff for me to jump off of” and congratulated the professionals who created the nominated projects. He said they gave him a greater appreciation of his brother.

“He’s an architect. I’m a professional idiot,” he said.

Among the other categories and winners:

• Private sector: Mellow Mushroom in Avondale.

• Public sector: Cascades Park in Tallahassee.

• Downtown: New Town Success Zone.

• Reuse/repurpose: The Ice Plant in St. Augustine.

Award criteria were based on the ULI mission to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. The projects also had to have been completed within the past seven years.

The institute’s mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide.

It was established in 1936 and has more than 34,000 members representing land use and development disciplines.

The ULI North Florida District Council, formed in 2005, has more than 350 members from areas that include Jacksonville, Gainesville, Tallahassee, Panama City and Pensacola. For more information, visit or

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