Let’s get real here. We certainly understand why South Carolina would want to lay exclusive claim to the lowcountry. After all, it’s one of the most naturally beautiful, culturally rich regions in all of North America. But sorry, Charleston, you’re not the only place that has sea islands, long beaches and an inland geography characterized by lush forests and wetlands brimming over with wildlife.
The geographical fact is, the lowcountry extends from the Santee River north of Charleston down past Savannah, Georgia, all the way to the St. Johns River that runs through Jacksonville. In fact, all you have to do is hop on Google maps and look at that stretch of the Atlantic coastline, and you’ll say to yourself, “Yep, that all looks pretty much the same.”
Of course we also understand that the lowcountry is more than a certain kind of geography. It’s a unique intersection of cultures and cuisines. And we happily acknowledge that as you travel from South Carolina to northeastern Florida, the cultural tone changes. It’s still lowcountry, but it gets more relaxed. More beachy. Instead of the quaint formality of Charleston and Savannah, you find the laid-back vibe of Amelia Island. You could say that in Florida, the lowcountry trades in its bow tie and seersucker for board shorts and a pair of flip-flops.
Then there are the homes. As with other places around the globe, classic lowcountry homes are a direct response to local weather. A raised first floor was a defense against high water. Tall ceilings helped to keep the indoors cooler. And a big front porch provided a shady place for everyone to come together and enjoy a cold drink and some neighborly conversation. In Wildlight, we’ve created a fresh interpretation of lowcountry style. Here you’ll find plenty of porches and high ceilings. But the forms are simpler, more streamlined. With a contemporary flair that just feels … right.
Fortunately, what doesn’t change with Florida’s version of lowcountry is the yumminess of the food. The shrimp are just as fresh, the grits are just as creamy and the lowcountry boil is just as delicious and messy as anywhere else along this magnificent stretch of coastline. Maybe even a bit tastier. And around here, you can follow it up with a slice of made-from-scratch key lime pie.
Our Porchfest Model Home Tour was a fun-filled couple of weeks, and a celebration of community—from the fresh homes to the fresh food and the fresh air. We gathered together to celebrate neighbors, nature and all the things that make Wildlight so special.
For those who couldn’t make it, here’s what you missed: live music from local artists (a feast for the ears), six beautiful model homes to tour (a feast for the eyes) and delicious fare from local eateries (a feast for … well, a literal feast).
It was our way of showcasing the wonderful way that Wildlight lives. We like to say we’re a new kind of Florida lowcountry. A town in nature, where your new home is an easy walk or ride (bike or golf cart) from a town center full of shops, restaurants, a YMCA, parks and trails. A place where, whether you prefer coastal or Craftsman, you can find a home that fits your flavor. And a spot where, without a doubt, the porch is the perfect place to spend time with family and friends.
We already can’t wait for next time.
NASSAU COUNTY, FL – Oct. 2, 2020 — UF Health Jacksonville and the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast cut the ribbon today on a new joint project in the heart of Wildlight in Nassau County, a combination rehabilitation facility and fitness center that will bring the latest innovations in healthy living to a rapidly growing part of Northeast Florida.
UF Health Rehabilitation – Wildlight has 36,000 square feet of space and offers adult and pediatric rehabilitation services, including physical and occupational therapy and speech language pathology, and a healthy living center. The new facility includes 5,000 square feet of rehabilitation space to provide specialized, one-on-one care, along with a 25,000-square-foot YMCA. Future expansion of the building is expected to add more than 15,000 square feet for specialty rehab services.
“This is a great day for Wildlight and Nassau County because the people who live here can now get the best possible rehabilitation services along with an amazing, state-of-the-art fitness facility, all right here in their community,” said Jeanne Bradshaw, P.T., D.P.T., director of rehabilitative services for UF Health Jacksonville.
This is the second facility UF Health has recently opened in Wildlight. Last December, UF Health Wildlight opened at 76011 William Burgess Blvd. It provides comprehensive health services, advanced medical technology and outstanding care opened in the heart of Nassau County. The medical complex includes family medicine, pediatrics, women’s services, dentistry, an urgent care center and more.
“Residents of Wildlight and the communities around it now have access to the most advanced health care and rehabilitative services possible, all alongside a fantastic YMCA that offers the most complete and innovative fitness resources possible,” said Leon L. Haley Jr., M.D., MHSA, CEO of UF Health Jacksonville and dean of the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville. “When we kicked off this Wildlight collaboration several years ago, this was our vision, and it’s rewarding for all of us to see it come to fruition.”
The new YMCA will include a fitness center, group exercise studios, an indoor running track, a dedicated area for children to explore, play and learn while their parents are working out, and more, including the availability to take part in youth sports leagues and education programs.
“The First Coast YMCA is thrilled to officially open the Wildlight YMCA to the growing Nassau County community and surrounding areas, including St. Marys,” said Eric K. Mann, the president and CEO of YMCA of Florida’s First Coast. “More than a gym, the new Wildlight YMCA will serve as a total wellness destination for the community by combining the YMCA’s tools and resources focused on healthy living with the medical expertise of UF Health. We know this location will provide critical programming to connect families and neighbors together safely for generations to come.”
The new UF and YMCA facility is part of Wildlight’s master-planned community located east of Interstate 95 and A1A. It is the latest step in a strategic collaboration with UF Health, the University of Florida, the YMCA and developer Raydient Places + Properties and offers high-quality health care for residents living in Wildlight and the surrounding communities.
“We are appreciative of our strategic alliance with UF Health, the University of Florida and the YMCA to break the mold of conventional community development with a new national model for healthier master-planned communities,” said Chris Corr, president of Raydient Places + Properties. “The opening of the UF Health Rehabilitation – Wildlight facility is another testament of our commitment toward healthy living in Wildlight and offers convenient access to the highest quality of health and wellness services across North Jacksonville. It also marks the completion of our dynamic vision that we began working on together three years ago, and we are thrilled for residents and the surrounding community to now enjoy these services that will enhance their well-being.”
WILDLIGHT, Fla. – July 29, 2020 – Today, Raydient Places + Properties announced that Yulee KinderCare has opened a 10,000-square-foot early childhood education and care facility in Wildlight. The nationally recognized learning center will serve more than 140 children, ages six weeks to 12 years old, and offer high-quality programs in safe nurturing environments where kids can learn, grow and build confidence for life.
“Here at the Yulee KinderCare, we have a dedicated, experienced teaching team who are passionate about the education and wellbeing of young children,” said Kelli Watson, center director at Yulee KinderCare. “We believe all children can reach their full potential through high-quality education, positive guidance, inclusion and love. Our philosophy, curriculum and inclusivity make us the best company to our industry. I am so excited to welcome families to our center, so they can experience the incredible learning environment our teachers create every day.”
In order to open the child care center both properly and safely, KinderCare Learning Centers has partnered with medical experts to redesign their daily health and safety practices, which in many cases go beyond state and CDC guidelines. Some of the steps that Yulee KinderCare will follow every day to ensure the continued health of children and employees in their care include:
- Restricted access to classrooms.
- Frequent handwashing and surface/toy sanitizing.
- All staff members must wear masks.
- Temperature checks and health questionnaires are required for anyone entering the center.
- Health screenings throughout the day.
- Strict exclusion for illness policy.
- Social distancing in classrooms, when appropriate for age groups.
- Protocol in place to ensure a quick response should anyone in the center be diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19.
“We are excited to welcome Yulee KinderCare to Wildlight as the community’s first child care provider,” said Chris Corr, president of Raydient Places + Properties. “The center will provide Wildlight’s growing number of families with a safe, nurturing education program and strong foundation for learning that directly aligns with our fundamental values and will. “
Yulee KinderCare includes nine total classrooms, an indoor gym, fully equipped outdoor playground and wellness screening station. The center will also employ 17 staff members who have nearly 250 years’ worth of collective experience in early childhood education. Centrally located within Wildlight at 110 Floco Avenue, the facility is within easy walking distance to the fast-growing Nassau County community’s essential amenities, businesses and experiences.
KinderCare Learning Centers is the nation’s largest private provider of early childhood education and care, helping hardworking families pursue their personal and professional dreams. The community of passionate teachers and staff strive to make each child’s potential shine and impart a lifelong love of learning and helping children build confidence for life.
Wildlight is envisioned as a new town inspired by a character, culture and pattern of living that we call “Florida Lowcountry,” where play is a part of every day and the natural world is a natural part of life. The plan for Wildlight includes a mix of homes, townhomes and rental apartments together with businesses, shops and restaurants, a new elementary school and a system of connecting trails and pathways intended to promote a walkable community and healthy lifestyle. Our Phase 1 plan is flexible and currently designed for about 1,000 homes throughout 260 acres, approximately. In addition, the community will have approximately 350 acres of permanently preserved open space. Wildlight offers comfortable and friendly Florida Lowcountry living located 20 miles North of Jacksonville and just East of Interstate-95 on A1A. There is easy access to both Amelia Island and the Jacksonville International Airport. Wildlight is being created by Raydient Places + Properties, a taxable subsidiary of Rayonier Inc., a real estate investment trust. For more information please visit www.wildlight.com.
About KinderCare® Learning Centers
KinderCare Learning Centers is America’s largest, most accredited child care provider, serving hardworking families across the country. For more than 50 years, we’ve been creating safe, encouraging environments where kids can learn, grow and build confidence for life. At KinderCare, hardworking families are family—regardless of needs, backgrounds, and experiences. To learn more, visit us online at KinderCare, on Facebook or on Instagram. For resources, information, and activity ideas for parents and teachers of young children please visit KinderCare.com/blog.
Home is where the heart is but after spending so much time there, it may be feeling a little less sweet. Even though things are starting to transition back to normal here in floco, it’s more important than ever that your home is a space you love. Here are a few tips to make at-home spaces more accommodating.
- Keep up with cleaning. Taking a few minutes to tidy up each day can go a long way toward improving your mood. Knowing where things are, seeing everything in order, and a sense of accomplishment will help your mood and your space. And it will save you from having to spend hours or days on a deep clean later.
- Make WFH work better for you. If you’re still working from home, it’s important to maintain consistency. It helps to have a place where you know you can get work done. Even if you don’t have a home office or desk, you can pick out a counter, table or even a spot on the couch, and know that when you’re there, you’re on the job. It’s a small decision that can keep you extra productive at home.
- Clear things out. Believe it or not, now is a better time than ever to get rid of excess stuff around the house. If there’s an item you haven’t been using while you’ve been home every day, chances are you aren’t going to be using it. Channel your inner Marie Kondo and go room by room to find furniture, appliances, décor and more that you can live without. You’ll open up more space in your house and as an added benefit, it can be the perfect opportunity to do some rearranging, too!
- Rearrange and redecorate. Whether you do #3 or not, consider taking some time to rearrange the layout of a room or your whole house. Is your current setup conducive to your normal everyday lifestyle? If something’s getting in the way, or there’s something you don’t need immediate access to (sorry, ironing board!), take this opportunity to change things up. It could be just the refresher you need to give your house a new feel, and make the everyday feel less ho-hum.
So, you’re home for a while. Spending your days under a roof and in a handful of rooms you know very well – in fact, you know them even better now. But if home sweet home is feeling a little less sweet or you feel like you or your loved ones are climbing the walls, here are some ways to pass the time and even have some fun doing it.
Learn to cook a new dish. Now’s a great time to build up your cooking skills. Find a simple recipe that fits the ingredients you have on hand or check which of your local farms are offering delivery service for fresh produce so you can make your favorite lowcountry dish. Right now, cooking celebrities like Alton Brown are sharing great tips, too. Not feeling up to cooking? Support your favorite local restaurant by ordering takeout!
Catch up on chores. Okay, okay, this just sounds like adding insult to injury. But those projects you’ve been putting off, like spring cleaning, doing your taxes or fixing things up around the house are a great way to burn a few hours of the day. And when you’re done, you can enjoy the feeling of accomplishment.
Perform an experiment. If you’ve got kids, even they might be getting tired of toys or excess screen time. The good news is you can dazzle and delight with at-home experiments using household items. Make a canola oil lava lamp or mix food coloring with baking soda and vinegar for a colorful twist on the classic science project volcano.
Throw a party online. Getting together via video conference has become a major trend, and here’s a fun twist: Pick some songs, a play or a favorite book; do some rehearsing; then invite friends and family for a special performance. It’s another great way to get kids involved, or you could have everyone on the invite list prepare and put on a teleconferenced talent show!
WILDLIGHT, FL – February 3, 2020 – Skinner Bros. Realty is continuing expansion at Wildlight with a new multi-tenant retail complex that will bring additional retail, restaurant and specialty service offerings to the area’s Village Center. This is the third overall building development and second multi-tenant retail complex in Wildlight by the Jacksonville-based real estate developers. The building is slated for completion in August 2020 and will continue to advance the community’s growth and progression.
“We’re thrilled to welcome several new high-quality and convenient shopping, dining and specialty services to the rapidly growing Wildlight community,” said Chet Skinner, vice president of Skinner Bros. Realty. “Our second multi-tenant retail complex will contribute to the four years of continued work in Nassau County, joining a well-rounded selection of businesses already established in the area such as Tasty’s Fresh Burgers and Fries, Cold Stone Creamery, AT&T and more.”
Skinners Bros. Realty submitted a preliminary site plan to Nassau County’s Development Review Committee in September 2019, with construction having begun in January 2020. The 11,640-square-foot mixed-use building is located on State Road 200, just east of the community’s main entrance, and will serve as an extension of the Wildlight Village Center’s current offerings. Inspired by the community’s Florida Lowcountry architecture and outdoor-living approach, the complex’s exterior will maintain the unique authenticity of the culture, lifestyle and heritage. The development will feature simple lines, native Florida landscaping and a color palette to complement the community’s natural surroundings.
This retail complex will bring additional lifestyle-focused businesses and services within walking distance to about 600 homes and apartments in Wildlight. Anejo Cocina Mexicana restaurant will anchor the complex and take up 3,700 square feet, leaving 1,800 square feet to Dep Nails & Spa and 6,140 square feet to lease up. The remaining tenant spaces are broken up between 1,200 and 2,500 square feet. In the coming months, developers hope to announce additional businesses to round out the already confirmed restaurant and specialty services spaces.
“We are pleased to continue working with Skinner Bros. Realty on the expansion of Wildlight,” said Chris Corr, president of Raydient Places + Properties. “We have secured a solid foundation of retail shops, restaurants and sought-after services that will support the community’s recent growth and demand, as well as help attract additional unique, local and regional tenants.”
Looking ahead, Skinner Bros. Realty is planning three additional developments composed of single-tenant and multi-tenant buildings at Wildlight’s Village Center. Other community developments in the area slated to open this year include Fairfield Inn & Suites, The Lofts at Wildlight, St. Clare Early Learning Center and Yulee KinderCare.
About Skinner Bros. Realty
Skinner Bros. Realty Company, established in January 1999, is a developer, investor, owner and manager of retail, office and mixed-use properties. The firm specializes in acquisition, planning, permitting, development and marketing of real estate as well as the representation of individual and corporate clients in the search for premier business locations.
Wildlight is envisioned as a new town inspired by a character, culture and pattern of living that we call “Florida Lowcountry,” where play is a part of every day and the natural world is a natural part of life. The plan for Wildlight includes a mix of homes, townhomes and rental apartments together with shops and restaurants, a new elementary school and a system of trails and pathways intended to make it healthy and walkable and connect it all together. Wildlight offers comfortable and friendly Florida Lowcountry living 20 miles north of Jacksonville, just east of Interstate 95 on A1A, with easy access to both Amelia Island and the Jacksonville International Airport. Wildlight is being created by Raydient Places + Properties, a taxable subsidiary of Rayonier Inc., a real estate investment trust. For more information please visit Wildlight.com.
Labor Day can be a little bittersweet, as holidays go. Of course, it marks the unofficial end of summer, but you also get to kick back for a long weekend. At Wildlight, the warm days don’t end with the arrival of September, but with school starting up and work schedules coming off vacation time, Labor Day is still a great excuse to celebrate with friends and family with summertime traditions.
Throw a Neighborhood Barbecue
Break out the charcoal and gather at a local park &ndash or someone’s backyard &ndash and share good times over burgers, hot dogs, salads and more. It doesn’t take much to make a memorable party this way, the outdoor environment and simple pleasures are a perfect recipe for happy memories. Of course, if you really want to celebrate Lowcountry style, check out the next recommendation…
Do a Lowcountry Boil
If barbecue is quintessential Americana, a Lowcountry boil is the local flavor. Friends and neighbors gathering around for fresh seafood, sharing the day and filling their plates is a tradition that can’t be matched. Be advised: the delicious smell may attract folks from the block who you haven’t met before, but that’s how new friends are made! For more tips on a Lowcountry boil, you can check out this blog post.
Make a Splash
With kids going back to school, they’ll love an opportunity to dive into the water for some aquatic action! The beach is a perfect place to gather and have fun before it’s time to get back into the workday or schoolday routine. From Wildlight, the beach and all its excitement are just half an hour away on Amelia Island. Take the long weekend as a chance to get wet, soak up the sun and make memories.
Spend Time with Family
It’s easy to get caught up in our schedules &ndash whether it’s a job, a project to work on or after-school activities. Labor Day is a time to put on the brakes and focus on those closest to you. Instead of big plans, you can just make time together as a family, to enjoy some outdoor activities, cook together, or just relax. When life gets busy again, you’ll be glad you took the time to be together.
Our community is built for gathering and celebrating together, and Labor Day is a wonderful time to do just that. Take the long weekend to stop worrying about work and just enjoy the company of those closest to you, to socialize with your favorite people, and maybe make some new friends, too!
A seafood boil isn’t unique to the Florida Lowcountry or even to the south. Folks from Maine to Louisiana have been celebrating family, friends and good food for decades, and even the west coast has its own spin on the tradition. But there is something about being outside on a sunny day in Florida, enjoying a dish of fresh shrimp, sausage, corn, potatoes and onions with family and neighbors around that truly feels like it belongs right here in the Lowcountry.
The tradition of getting together, sharing food and time and memories is as true to this region as sitting on your front porch at sunset, waving to and chatting with your neighbors. If you have the opportunity to attend a Lowcountry boil or want to try to capture the experience wherever you are, here are a few tips to make the most of this grand get-together.
• Fresh is best. A good boil is all about the ingredients, especially the seafood. Down here, a boil will use shrimp caught that day (or that hour!). If you have a local seafood market, we recommend stopping by and getting a heaping portion of shrimp or your shellfish of choice there.
• Be ready to get dirty. Digging into a plate of shrimp and sausage and veggies can get messy, but that’s what makes a boil so much fun. You’re around friends and family, so don’t stress and just embrace the experience. Everything tastes even better that way.
• All are welcome. A Lowcountry boil isn’t just a recipe, it’s an event best shared with others. Whether it’s family, friends, neighbors or whoever’s around (that delicious smell might just attract some new friends), it’s best to make plenty of food and enjoy the time you spend together.
If you’re throwing your own boil, we wish you luck, good food and good company. And if it seems intimidating to host, just come on down to the Florida Lowcountry for the real thing. It’s an experience you won’t regret, and you’ll make memories to savor for years to come.
Feeding FLOCO’s Future with Aquaponics
As populations grow and fewer young people enter into farming, the need for new and cost-effective solutions to maintain food supply becomes more urgent. Aquaponics is one such innovative solution that yields ample crops with more efficient use of land and water than conventional farming techniques.
A collaboration between North Florida’s largest aquaponics farm, Traders Hill Farm, and Nassau County School District is giving Wildlight students the opportunity to learn about aquaponics. This mutually beneficial partnership allows West Nassau High School students to apply what they learn by growing lettuce for the school cafeteria.
Working with aquaponics in science classes also helps prepare Nassau County students for careers in sustainable farming.
“With our biotechnology and aquaponics program at West Nassau, we have all phases of a model workforce development program,” Director of Career and Adult Education Brent Lemond told the Nassau County Economic Development Board. “There is an employer, Traders Hill Farm, assisting us to plan curriculum and ready to hire our graduates. We have a post-secondary partner in Florida State College at Jacksonville.”
We look forward to watching this program continue to grow (no pun intended)!