| Florida Times-Union
UF Health Jacksonville and the First Coast YMCA have opened a combination rehabilitation facility and fitness center at Wildlight in Nassau County, a new master-planned community near Yulee.
UF Health Rehabilitation-Wildlight has 36,000 square feet of space, including a 25,000-square-foot YMCA; physical and occupational therapy and speech-language pathology; and a healthy-living center. A 15,000 square-foot expansion is planned for specialty rehabilitation services.
The center will “bring the latest innovations in healthy living to a rapidly growing part of Northeast Florida,” according to UF Health.
“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, director of rehabilitative services for UF Health Jacksonville.
Plans for Wildlight, off Florida A1A east of Interstate 95, include a mix of homes, townhomes and rental apartments; shops and restaurants; an elementary school; and a system of trails and pathways.
UF Health Jacksonville has already established a presence in Wildlght. In December the hospital system opened a medical complex there that provides comprehensive health services, including family medicine, pediatrics, women’s services, dentistry and an urgent care center, and advanced medical technology.
Construction on the rehabilitation-YMCA project began in April 2019.
“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 Haley Jr., CEO of UF Health Jacksonville and dean of the University of Florida College of Medicine-Jacksonville. “When we kicked off this Wildlight collaboration … this was our vision and it’s rewarding for all of us to see it come to fruition.”
The new YMCA includes a fitness center, group exercise studios, indoor running track, dedicated children’s area and youth sports leagues and education programs.
“The First Coast YMCA is excited to offer a new location to the growing Nassau County community and surrounding areas including St. Marys [Ga.],” said Eric Mann, First Coast YMCA’s president and CEO. “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.”
Chris Corr, president of Raydient Places + Properties, developer of Wildlight, said the project is “another testament of our commitment toward healthy living.”
“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,” he said. “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.”
The completion of the new Nassau YMCA brought a bit of good news to the First Coast YMCA, which in September announced staff and pay cuts and the closure of a 14-year-old branch because of pandemic-related financial struggles. The nonprofit lost $7 million because of its three-month COVID-19 closure and the reduced programming and member cancelations that followed.
Beth Reese Cravey: (904) 359-4109