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Jim Zboril, Tavistock Development Company

Jim Zboril, Tavistock Development Company
In high school, he used to rebuild car engines. Now he's building one of the nation's most innovative master-planned communities. Get to know Tavistock President Jim Zboril. (Handout)

Jim Zboril has been at the Tavistock helm for 14 years, in which time the company has – in essence – built an entire community – hospitals, sports facilities, restaurants, parks – where before there was little more than a Tom Fazio-designed golf course.

An abundance of news outlets have touted Lake Nona's mixed-use charms, from public art (even that which is built into its parking garages), to the new, heat-beating Nona Adventure Park to its soon-to-come driverless shuttles, prompting its designation as an Orlando neighborhood that's operating farther into the future than any other.

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Zboril finds all of it exciting, in particular Lake Nona's upcoming resort hotel.

"It's our first Tavistock luxury lifestyle property, set on this Crystal Lagoon," he told GrowthSpotter. "And so, we're really just spending a lot of time getting that right."

Zboril says it's an addition that will help round-out the community's offerings.

"We have a unique visitor profile in Lake Nona – those coming to the USTA, to the KPMG training center, and let's not forget we're right by the airport – so some folks will simply use it as a convenient place to stop – but we are really positioning it for the traveler who is coming to Lake Nona for any number of reasons."

Indeed, Lake Nona's many lures – and thusly projects – keep Zboril's fires burning easily. He loves transitioning from one to the next. And if you know his history, that could be construed as a pattern.

Zboril went through an abundance of college majors – from biology and psychology to computer engineering and accounting – before walking out of Western Michigan University with a finance degree. More or less, he admits, because his time to decide had all but run out.

"My father was a dentist, and he somehow knew he wanted to be a dentist when he was 8 years old," Zboril chuckles, referencing Hermey the Elf, from the old Rankin/Bass "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" Christmas special. "He always said to me, 'What are you going to do for the rest of your life?' And I was a bit paralyzed by that."

A natural gearhead, Zboril was an auto mechanic in high school; he'd barter with his parents, trading performance in classes like calculus for the opportunity to take shop.

"I really loved building things – and now, being a developer is the ultimate expression of that, because you're really having an impact on the whole environment … and it sure does feel good for me in what I do, because I really like creating things."

He also still loves cars.

"My wife says I have a lot of spark plugs; I'm actually on a net spark plug reduction plan," he says, "which means I have to sell more spark plugs than I can buy."

It didn't prevent him, however, from talking her into letting him buy an RV. He and his son planned to drive it back to Orlando from the west coast just two weeks ago.

"But it broke down 37 miles outside Seattle!" Zboril laughs. "It was too complicated to fix and there was nothing we could do. We checked into a hotel in downtown and enjoyed two days of hanging out in Seattle."

The RV, for now, remains in the Emerald City – while Zboril continues building Oz in the 407. Trips like this one, however, inspire his vision and thusly Tavistock's, and breed innovation.

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The luxe hotel plan includes 17 stories – a profile changer along the Greeneway for sure. And who knows? There could be further mix to come among this neo-urban community's mixed uses.

"We saw some neat things in Seattle," he notes, referencing Lake Union, a community of houseboats. "They're really cool! I would love to figure out where we could do something like that."

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at Newsroom@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-6261. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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