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Mathis Report
Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Jul. 19, 201708:20 AM EST

The Mathis Report: Contract signed for Jacksonville iFLY location

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Indoor skydiving center site is near Topgolf at St. Johns Town Center.

Indoor skydiving is descending on St. Johns Town Center.

Sky Entertainment LLC Managing Partner Chester Schwartz said Tuesday his group signed a contract Friday for 2.5 acres for development of a $10 million to $12 million iFLY project.

He said the venue, which would be south of Topgolf, should be completed by September or October 2018.

“Jacksonville is one of the largest cities in Florida. It is a growing city, so we want to be part of that,” Schwartz said.

There are iFLY centers in Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa.

The Town Center property is owned by siblings Arthur Chester Skinner Jr., Charles Brightman Skinner and Mary Virginia Skinner Jones. Skinner representatives confirmed the contract was signed Friday.

Sky Entertainment representatives Duke Addison and Amanda Kinkade with Addison Commercial Real Estate Inc. said the land sale should be completed early next year.

They also said that Sky Entertainment doesn’t need the entire site and would market 1.4 acres for another entertainment or restaurant user.

Topgolf is at 10531 Brightman Blvd., along Interstate 295 north of Butler Boulevard. Schwartz said iFLY would be 60 feet high, which Addison said would make it and Topgolf distinctive structures along the interstate.

IFLY, based in Austin, Texas, calls itself “the experiential entertainment company that created modern indoor skydiving.”

It developed technology that creates a wall-to-wall air cushion generated by giant fans in a flight chamber.

It started in 1998 as SkyVenture LLC and opened its first indoor skydiving facility in 1999. It opened three more through 2005 and rebranded as iFLY.

Schwartz said Sky Entertainment is a partner with iFLY.

IFLY’s website says bodyflight is one of the fastest growing sports in the world.

Last year, the Tampa Bay Times reported about the iFLY planned next to Topgolf in Brandon. It said the company’s 50 locations worldwide have entertained more than 7 million fliers.

The Times reported that iFLY facilities feature a vertical wind tunnel powered by giant fans that can generate up to 175 mph winds, with the force adjusted for a participant’s body weight.

Participants are trained in an on-site classroom and provided a jumpsuit, helmet, goggles and earplugs. An instructor will accompany rookies.

The iFLY Orlando site says that prices start at $69.95 for two flights. Each session is 60 seconds, although the entire iFLY first-time experience takes about 90 minutes from start to finish.

Family and group packages are offered, as well as banks of time for people wanting to practice their skydiving techniques. The iFLY site says it is for participants ages 3 through 103.

When iFLY was going into the San Diego area, a news report said it was a $10 million attraction. A company spokesman said then that the three-floor, 70-foot-high facility would consist of a 48-foot-high wind tunnel that was 14 feet in diameter and capable of handling 12 people every 30 minutes.

The building was designed with an observation deck, conference room and a party room for birthday and group events. 

Like that venture, Schwartz said the Jacksonville iFLY would hire 36 employees and also work with independent consultants and coaches who would train participants in the growing sport of indoor skydiving.

Schwartz said that iFLY either owns or franchises its venues and that a franchisee has been identified for Jacksonville.

At iFLY, giant fans that can generate 175 mph winds simulate the experience of skydiving.

 

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