Today, Raydient Places + Properties and the University of Florida announced their intent to join together to develop a national model for healthier communities at Wildlight, the new master planned community currently under development in Nassau County north of Jacksonville. As part of the agreement, the University of Florida and its academic health center, UF Health, will construct health and fitness facilities in Wildlight and spearhead programs and services aimed at promoting healthier living throughout the new community and the Northeast Florida region.
Earlier this year Wildlight’s developer, Raydient Places + Properties, sought out a dedicated strategic partner with the capabilities and vision to create a new model for community development that promotes better health for the people who live, work and play there. “One of our goals at Wildlight is to create a community that promotes healthier living, so we went looking for a partner with broad and deep capabilities to bring the vision to life,” said Chris Corr, President of Raydient. “That effort led us to the University of Florida and UF Health, and we are thrilled to welcome them to Wildlight.”
One of Wildlight’s key objectives is to create a community where people can live, work and play in a dynamic environment. An individual’s health and well-being — which includes the mind, body, spirit and social aspects of life — are essential elements to this goal. As Wildlight’s strategic partner, the University of Florida will provide the breadth of knowledge, talented faculty and resources to ensure that healthy living is integrated into the very fabric of the Wildlight community through health, education, fitness and recreation programs; UF Health will ensure a forward-looking approach to prevention, early detection and health promotion.
“The expertise of our faculty and health care providers will contribute to promoting a better state of health for the whole person, inside and out,” said David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., Senior Vice President for Health Affairs at UF and President of UF Health. “We intend to build on our already substantial presence in Northeast Florida to not only keep the body healthy for Wildlight and Northeast Florida residents, but also to contribute to an environment that promotes better health in mind, spirit and social connectivity.”
UF and UF Health’s first step in the multi-year project is to construct the community’s first health care facility on Highway A1A, which will include urgent care staffed by emergency medicine faculty, primary care using a patient-centered model focused on prevention and early diagnosis, and an imaging center. Providers will initially include faculty physicians in adult primary care and pediatrics; over time, other medical specialists may be added in areas such as obstetrics, sports medicine, dentistry, orthopaedics and occupational and speech therapy, depending on the community’s needs and interests. These new facilities will expand UF’s already substantial presence in Northeast Florida and will ensure that Nassau County community members, local business employees, teachers and students have direct access to UF Health’s nationally recognized, high-quality care, programs, services and medical facilities.
In the coming months, the University of Florida and UF Health will advance planning and design with the objective of breaking ground on initial facilities next year. Final approval of the project is contingent on approval by appropriate governing boards, including the UF Board of Trustees.
Other facilities in the planning stages include a fitness and lifestyle campus as well as services focused on early childhood development, sports injury prevention, smart parks and community nutrition. UF envisions using Wildlight’s high-speed communications network to connect and communicate with residents and community members and offer virtual programs through smart apps and social media.
“Part of the mission of the University of Florida and UF Health is to shape a better future for Florida, the nation and the world,” said Dr. Guzick. “Our ambition is for the innovations that we pioneer at Wildlight to become model programs that can positively influence communities across Florida, the U.S. and maybe even beyond.”
This announcement comes weeks after Wildlight named D.S. Ware Homes and Dream Finders Homes as the first two residential home builders in the community. The news also builds on the recent opening of Wildlight Elementary School, which welcomed is first students in August. Wildlight Elementary School is a part of the “A”rated and “Academically High-Performing”-designated Nassau County School District. In addition to health care facilities, residential neighborhoods and a new elementary school, Wildlight is also designed for retail stores, restaurants and offices — all connected by a system of pathways and trails to enhance walkability, healthy lifestyles and a connection to the community.
About the University of Florida
The University of Florida is a major, public, comprehensive, land-grant, research university. The state’s oldest and most comprehensive university, UF is among the nation’s most academically diverse public universities. UF traces its beginnings to a small seminary in 1853. It opened its doors in Gainesville in 1906 with 102 students. Today, it is one of the most comprehensive and academically diverse universities in the nation, with an enrollment of some 52,000 students annually. UF is home to 16 colleges and more than 170 research centers and institutes and UF offers nearly 300 graduate degree programs. Only five other universities nationwide have as many programs of study on one campus as the University of Florida.
UF has a long history of established programs in international education, research and service. It is one of only 17 public, land-grant universities that belong to the Association of American Universities, the higher-education organization comprising the top 62 public and private institutions in North America. UF is consistently ranked among the nation’s top universities. UF has nearly 5,000 faculty members with distinguished records in teaching, research and service, including 37 Eminent Scholar chairs and 42 faculty elections to the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, or the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Awards include a Fields Medal, two Pulitzer Prizes, NASA’s top award for research, and the Smithsonian Institution’s conservation award.
About UF Health
UF Health is the Southeast’s most comprehensive academic health center. With main campuses in Gainesville and Jacksonville, UF Health includes six health colleges, nine research institutes and centers, two teaching hospitals, four specialty hospitals and a host of physician medical practices and outpatient services throughout North Central and Northeast Florida. Its mission is to promote health through outstanding and high-quality patient care, innovative and rigorous education in the health professions and biomedical sciences, and high-impact research across the spectrum of basic, translational and clinical investigation.
UF Health includes the UF colleges of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health and Health Professions, and Veterinary Medicine, which has both a large animal hospital and a small animal hospital. The system also encompasses several UF research institutes and centers. The full spectrum of patient-care services are provided through UF Health Shands Hospital and UF Health Jacksonville, UF’s private, not-for-profit affiliates. UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville includes UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital and UF Health Shands Cancer Hospital. Two additional specialty hospitals, UF Health Shands Rehab Hospital and UF Health Shands Psychiatric Hospital, are also in Gainesville. UF Health Jacksonville and UF Health North Hospital are the system’s Northeast Florida hospitals. UF Health offers a network of outpatient rehabilitation centers, two home health agencies in Gainesville and Jacksonville, and more than 100 UF physician outpatient practices throughout North Central and Northeast Florida.
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, parks, gardens and playgrounds, a new elementary school, and a system of trails and pathways intended to make it healthy and walkable and connect it all together. Our Phase 1 plan is flexible and currently designed for about 1,000 homes across about 260 acres plus nearly 350 acres of permanently preserved open space. Wildlight will offer 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 REIT subsidiary of Rayonier. For more information please visit wildlight.com.