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First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross

1/18/2017: New Convention Center; Venardos Circus; In Utero

Kevin Meerschaert

Thursday on First Coast Connect we spoke with Florida Times-Union reporter David Bauerlein about a plan to build a new hotel and convention center in downtown Jacksonville (01:06).   

Kevin Venardos joined us to talk about The Venardos Circus, which is coming to the St. Augustine Amphitheater later this month (36:47).   

We were joined by film writer and director Royce Freeman, cinematographer Daniel Andujar and actress Jessica Lamb about their film In Utero (46:00).  


New Convention Center

The Downtown Investment Authority voted Wednesday to issue a request for proposals from private developers interested in building a new convention center and hotel in downtown Jacksonville.

The center would likely be built on Bay Street at the site of the old county courthouse and City Hall annex.

The city has budgeted dollars to raze both buildings and offer up the land.

It’s another of the plans meant to revitalize downtown Jacksonville, which include a mixed-use development called The District planned to go across the river from the possible convention site.

The Venardos Circus

The Venardos Circus is coming to St. Augustine.

Created by former Ringling Bros. Ringmaster Kevin Venardos, the Venardos Circus wraps world-class circus acts into a Broadway musical-style format.

The circus runs at the St. Augustine Amphitheater from Jan. 24 to Feb. 10.   

In Utero

In Utero was written, produced and filmed in and around Jacksonville.

The hardcore thriller is a throwback to movies of the 70’s like Last House on the Left and I Spit On Your Grave.

Writer and director Royce Freeman hopes to premier the movie this summer at Sun-Ray Cinema.


Kevin Meerschaert can be reached at, 904-358-6334 or on Twitter at @KMeerschaertJax.


Kevin Meerschaert has left WJCT for new pursuits. He was the producer of First Coast Connect until October of 2018.