Local Investors Buy WP Magazine

New Ownership for FL Home Media LLC

Local Investors Buy WP Magazine

Winter Park Publishing Company LLC, a new company comprised of community leaders, has purchased the assets of Sarasota-based Florida Home Media, LLC, among them the award-winning Winter Park Magazine, which circulates primarily in Winter Park and Maitland. The purchase price was not disclosed.

In addition to Winter Park Magazine, the company publishes ArtsLife, the official magazine of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, and Florida Homebuyer Orlando, a consumer publication focused on the new-home industry.

Community Asset

“I’m pretty sure that an effort like this is unprecedented in this business,” said long-time editor and publisher Randy Noles, who is a shareholder and CEO of the new company. “People have come to regard Winter Park Magazine as a community asset and were very excited about the opportunity to be involved in this purchase.”

Florida Home Media was originally a spinoff of Sarasota Magazine and Gulfshore Life in Naples, both of which were owned by Dan Denton of Sarasota. Denton recently sold both highly successful magazines to national media companies.

Noles and Denton worked together for 18 years. Noles opened the Orlando division in 2004, and served as a consultant to the magazines in Sarasota and Naples.

“We could have gone the same route in the Orlando market and sought a national buyer,” said Denton, a member of the Florida Magazine Association Hall of Fame. “But given the character of Winter Park Magazine and its standing in the community, we thought it should be owned locally.”

Investors Stand In Line

Noles approached Allan E. Keen, CEO of The Keewin Real Property Company, and Richard J. Walsh, president of Knob Hill Group, requesting help in assembling an investor group to buy the company. Walsh was a co-founder of Winter Park Magazine and published it for three years until it was bought by Florida Home Media in 2012. Keen and Walsh agreed to lend their support and within weeks 44 local investors agreed to get involved.

Editorial Independence Intact

Noles emphasized that the Winter Park Magazine’s editorial independence would not be compromised. He noted the investor group includes people who hold a variety of opinions about local issues, but who are united in their belief that Winter Park is a special place.

“I have no experience in media assets, but my love for Winter Park and the amazing quality of Winter Park Magazine under Randy’s leadership made this an easy decision for Linda and me to invest, and to ask others to join,” said Allan Keen.

Local Ownership Is Key

Walsh added, “This investment not only ensures that a community asset remains under local ownership, but it’s also going to be enjoyable for our shareholders. All of them are proud of their community and view the magazine as the embodiment of that pride.”

In addition to Noles, Keen and Walsh, Theresa Swanson, publisher of Florida Homebuyer Orlando and a leader in the region’s new-home industry, will also be actively involved in the company’s management.

Community Owners

Larry and Joanne Adams; The Albertson Company, Ltd.; Richard O. Baldwin Jr.; Jim and Diana Barnes; Brad Blum; Ken and Ruth Bradley; John Caron; Bruce Douglas; Steve Goldman; Hal George; Michael Gonick; Micky Grindstaff; Marc Hagle; Larry and Jane Hames; Eric and Diane Holm; Garry and Isis Jones; Allan E. and Linda S. Keen; Knob Hill Group (Rick and Trish Walsh, Jim and Beth DeSimone, Chris Schmidt); Mitch Lasky; Drew and Paula Madsen; Kevin and Jacquelin Maddron; Kenneth J. Meister; Jack Myers; Ann Hicks Murrah; Jack Myers; Michael P. O’Donnell; Nicole and Mike OKaty; Bill and Jody Orosz; Martin and Ellen Prague; Serge and Kerri Rivera; Theresa Swanson; Sam Stark; Theresa Swanson; Randall J. Robertson; George Sprinkel; Philip Tiedtke; Roger Thompson; Ed Timberlake; Harold and Libby Ward; Warren “Chip” Weston; Thomas H. Yochum; and Victor and Jackie A. Zollo.

City to Reconsider Memory Care Center

Villa Tuscany Back on the Agenda

City to Reconsider Memory Care Center

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In April 2017, Villa Tuscany Holdings (VTH) sued the City of Winter Park, challenging the Commission’s March 27 denial of their application to build a 41,000-square-foot memory care center at 1298 Howell Branch Road.

Under the jurisdiction of a Special Magistrate, the City, represented by City Manager Randy Knight, has drawn up an agreement with Villa Tuscany Holdings to enable VTH to submit plans for a revised project. To read the entire document, click here.

According to the mediated settlement agreement, in early September VTH will submit plans for a re-designed memory care center to the City planning staff. After it goes through the Planning Department, the Commission will review the new application, which will include the mediated settlement agreement. The Commission will consider the agreement and the plans as one item.

What’s Changed?

The proposed agreement calls for a reduction in gross square footage from 41,352 to 30,896.

Although the redesigned building will be two stories instead of three, the maximum height will be reduced by only three feet. The number of on-site parking places will increase from 23 to 25 – which still represents a variance from the required 27 spaces.

The number of patient “units” drops from 51 to 46. Despite a significant reduction in rooms and in square footage, however, the number of patient beds is reduced by only one – for a total of 50.

Commission May Review in October — Date Flexible

The date has not yet been confirmed, but it is tentatively scheduled for the first Commission meeting in October.

News Update

No Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in WP

News Update

On June 9, 2017, the Florida Legislature passed Senate Bill 8A (SB 8A), the Medical Use of Marijuana Act, designed to establish regulations for the implementation of Amendment 2, which allows the sale of medical cannabis in the state of Florida.

Political Banana Peel

In what Commissioner Peter Weldon called a “political banana peel thrown under our feet,” the law makes county and municipal governments choose. Either they must treat medical marijuana dispensaries exactly the same way they treat pharmacies or they must ban them altogether.

Dispensaries Banned – For Now

On Monday, July 24, the Commission voted 4-1 to pass an ordinance banning medical cannabis dispensaries from the City of Winter Park. Commissioner Sarah Sprinkel cast the dissenting vote.

Medical Marijuana Supporters Seek to Overturn Law

Meanwhile, proponents of medical marijuana dispensaries are asking the courts to overturn the state law. If they are successful, adoption of the City ordinance automatically establishes a one-year moratorium, which would give the City time to understand the impact of the court ruling and to devise an alternative ordinance that would be in full compliance.

Editor’s Note: Readers wishing to comment on this latest development should scroll to the end of the full story and click the Comment link there.

Will of the Voters – Up In Smoke?

State Rules Restrict Medical Marijuana in FL Cities

July 26, 2017 / by Anne Mooney

At a special work session July 25, the Planning & Zoning (P&Z) Board moved to request the Commission enact an ordinance “to prohibit medical marijuana treatment center dispensing facilities within the boundaries of the city . . . .”

If the Commission passes it, this ordinance will repeal and replace a 2014 ordinance, No. 2981-14, which would have permitted dispensaries of non-euphoric medical cannabis in limited industrial and warehouse districts within the city.

Winter Park is among 88 municipalities and four counties (Osceola, Sumpter, Hernando and Columbia) considering prohibitions, moratoriums or other restrictions on medical marijuana dispensaries.

Voters Want Medical Cannabis

On the November 8, 2016, ballot, Florida voters approved the Florida Medical Marijuana Legislation Initiative, also known as Amendment 2, with a decisive 71.3 percent of the vote. The measure went into effect January 3, 2017. The state legislature, however, neglected to establish the necessary rules and regulations for the implementation of Amendment 2 during their regular session.

House Speaker Wants to Make the Rules

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, however, objected to ceding power for making rules for implementation to the Florida Department of Health and called for a special legislative session to address medical marijuana legislation. “To just leave it to bureaucrats sitting over at the Department of Health,” he said, “I think would be a gross injustice.”

Gov. Scott: ‘Okay, Make the Rules’

On June 2, Governor Rick Scott called for a special session June 7 through June 9. He issued a statement, “Medical marijuana was approved by 71 percent of Florida voters in 2016, and I believe that it is the role of the Florida Legislature to determine how to best implement this approved constitutional amendment. I am glad that both the Florida Senate and House are moving toward crafting legislation to help patients, and I have added medical marijuana to the call for special session.”

Senate Writes the Rules . . .

On June 9, 2017, the Florida State Legislature passed Senate Bill 8A (SB 8A), the Medical Use of Marijuana Act, designed to establish regulations for the implementation of Amendment 2.

SB 8A defined the medical conditions that qualified a patient for medical marijuana. It placed a cap on the number of retail dispensaries and medical marijuana treatment centers until April 1, 2020. It banned smoking medical marijuana. It banned doctors with a financial interest in marijuana growing or testing facilities from prescribing marijuana. It levied no tax on medical marijuana.

Locals Implement the Rules . . .or Not

The law also gave local county and municipal governments a choice. Either they can regulate medical marijuana dispensaries exactly the same way they regulate pharmacies . . . or they can ban them.

In short, the only way to regulate them is to ban them completely.

Commission to Decide at July 24 Meeting.

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