Business news: Apartments, awards and new leadership – Gainesville Sun


Emily Mavrakis
| The Gainesville Sun

As brand new apartment complexes sprout up all over Gainesville, one group has shared news on renovations to existing buildings.  

Also in the news are announcements related to an upcoming homebuilding project, a new role for a longtime leader in one Gainesville business and accolades for local attorneys. 

Here’s a look at this week’s business news: 

The Hammocks unveils new apartment renovations 

The Hammocks, a group of four apartment properties in Gainesville, unveiled new renovations to The Hammocks on 20th at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday. 

The Hammocks on 20th, 3751 SW 20th Ave., are one of four properties purchased in January 2020 by American Commercial Realty Corp., which has offices in Palm Beach County. 

Three other Hammocks properties are located at 3600 Windmeadows Blvd., near Butler Plaza;  3316 SW 41st Place, in the Phoenix neighborhood; and 321 NW 21st Lane, near Ward’s Supermarket. 

Orlando-based Atrium Management has been involved with the properties since last summer. 

Upgrades to community amenities, furniture and appliances are some of the updates new tenants will notice. The one-story buildings were originally built in the 1970s.  Rent for studio and one-bedroom, one-bath apartments at The Hammocks on 20th starts at $749.  

Rick Baer, president of American Commercial Realty, said the four Gainesville properties purchased had “good bones,” and made for a good investment in the area without the need for entirely new development.  

“I believe strongly in the economics of Gainesville,” Baer said. “Even with a pandemic and other national recessions that will take place, UF and Shands are absolute fixtures that will anchor the community.” 

Former Infinite Energy leader in new role 

Rich Blaser, who previously served as co-CEO at Infinite Energy, has been appointed co-CEO at a Newberry company, Vet Comp & Pen Medical Consulting. 

Vet Comp & Pen is a leading medical consulting firm that helps veterans identify and properly document their potential disabilities and develops the medical evidence needed to best ensure they receive all of the disability benefits they qualify for from the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

Chairman and co-CEO Jim Hill, Blaser and former VA Compensation and Pension Medical Examiner Gina Uribe co-founded VCP in 2014 and all serve on the company’s board of directors.  

Blaser is co-founder and former co-CEO of Infinite Energy, a wholesale and retailer energy marketer in Gainesville. He recently sold his interest in both Infinite Energy and Veteran Energy and will be working full-time to help America’s disabled veterans document and attain the disability benefits they deserve. 

Blackton Inc. to supply materials to High Springs’ OakRidge homes 

Blackton Inc., one of Florida’s oldest and largest suppliers of materials to the homebuilding industry, recently earned a contract from D.R. Horton’s West Central Florida Division to supply all of the homebuilder’s new homes in OakRidge at High Springs, northwest of Gainesville.  

The firm will provide an estimated $500,000 worth of ceramic tile and carpeting in the construction of 89 planned single-family homes in Oak Ridge. The homes range from 1,408 to 2,516 square feet. 

Blackton has been supplying D.R. Horton with building materials for more than 40 years.  The family-owned business, headquartered north of downtown Orlando, has been supplying the homebuilding industry from Jacksonville to Tampa for six decades. 

Local attorney lauded by Florida Bar 

Susan Mikolaitis, an Alachua attorney specializing in real estate, probate and estate planning, has been recognized with Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Award. The award is annually given to one attorney representing each of Florida’s 20 judicial circuits. 

Mikolaitis, of the law firm Bingham & Mikolaitis, P. A., will receive this year’s award from the Eighth Judicial Circuit, which includes Alachua, Levy, Baker, Bradford and Gilchrist and Union counties. 

The awards are intended to encourage lawyers to volunteer free legal services to the poor, or pro bono. The phrase means “for the public good.”  

Mikolaitis has been in practice with the firm since 2003, after graduating from the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law.  

Donnelly + Gross ranked in annual survey 

Local law firm Donnelly + Gross, which has a Gainesville office at 2421 NW 41 St. Suite A-1, has been recognized as one of the “Best Law Firms” in a ranking from the US News & World Report for 2020. 

The firm received four Tier 1 rankings— the top rank, in labor and employment law for the Jacksonville metropolitan area. Additionally, firm principals Paul Donnelly and Laura Gross have been named 2020 “Best Lawyers” for labor and employment law, representing the top 2% of attorneys in Florida. 

Law firms are chosen for the report based on an evaluation process that includes client and lawyer evaluations, peer reviews from attorneys in their industry, and review of formal submissions by the firm. More than 1,200 Florida law firms are included among the 2020 rankings.

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