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Joani Maskell has been teaching swimming lessons for more than 25 years.
Jax Daily Record Thursday, Jun. 27, 201312:00 PM EST

Swimming Safari plans $1.3M South Jacksonville school

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Swimming instructor Joani Maskell is developing a school-with-a-pool in South Jacksonville.

Maskell is president of Swimming Safari Swim School Inc., which offers a program that emphasizes water survival skills to students from the age of 6 months to adults.

It offers instruction at nearly a dozen area pools.

The City is reviewing plans for a $1.32 million project for Swimming Safari on 1.17 acres at 4775 Windsor Commons Court. Maskell intends to open it in winter 2014.

The project consists of an 11,016-square-foot building that is shown as part retail and part swimming school.

Project costs are shown as $1.12 million for the building and $200,000 for the pool.

Maskell said construction could start in July and be completed in about six months.

"I decided to take the plunge," she said.

She said the pool will be a special-use pool just for teaching swimming. She said the depth will be from 3.5 to 4.5 feet in the main teaching area and there will be a 6-foot section for adults and diving practice.

Maskell said the pool will be a salt-water pool that uses a filtering system "to make sure the water is sparkling clean" and the filtration system and pool "will far surpass" the standard requirements set by the state.

Giles-McIvor Inc. is the contractor and Robert Allen Connor Architect is the designer for the building.

The Batts Co. is shown as the contractor for the pool, which is designed by WET Engineering Inc.

The project owner is Sparkleberry Investments LLC, whose managing member is Maskell. She and family members Clifford and Kenneth Maskell and Callie Maskell Beesley are members.

Sparkleberry Investments bought the vacant Windsor Commons land Dec. 31 for $525,000 from JTB Hodges Investments LLC and Walter D. Dickinson.

Building plans show Swimming Safari will comprise more than 6,900 square feet of space, consisting of the pool and equipment area, a changing area, office and break area and retail display and viewing.

The other almost 4,100 square feet of space is shown as four rental areas.

The swimmingsafari.com website says owner and founder Joani Maskell began teaching swimming lessons to neighborhood children in her backyard.

It says she taught swimming in college while earning her bachelor's and master's degrees in elementary education and special education.

She is certified to teach and operate a facility and has taught swimming for more than 25 years.

"After finding people who drove from all over town to come to swim lessons, Joani decided she needed to bring quality swimming lessons to other parts of the city," says the site.

Maskell approached hotels, apartment complexes and other facilities and almost a dozen now host her lessons.

The program currently consists of one indoor year-round facility and 10-plus outdoor seasonal pools throughout Northeast Florida. During the summer, the business employs more than 15 instructors and teaches more than 600 lessons a week.

The site says she is "close to her dream of building a brand new indoor swim school."

Sperry Top-Sider taking shape

The City approved a permit for Keen Construction & Development to build-out 1,910 square feet of space in St. Johns Town Center for Sperry Top-Sider. The project, at 4791 River City Drive, No. 125, carries a construction cost of $400,000.

Food signs

• McDonald's at 8570 Argyle Forest Blvd. is putting up five signs. Signsharks Sign Service is the contractor for the $10,000 project.

• Bagel Love Deli is putting up a wall sign at 4114 Herschel St., No. 121. Novalux Signs Inc. is the contractor for the $1,500 project.

[email protected]

@MathisKb

(904) 356-2466

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