According to news reports, verified by Historic City News through the Duval County Clerk of Court, St Johns County resident Richard R. Willich sold 17 acres of vacant residential land in the Julington Creek area in a land sale valued at $1.1 million. Willich was represented in the transaction by Walchle Lear Multifamily Advisors in Jacksonville Beach.
Willich, the controversial yet principled former Marine, whose charitable giving in St Johns County helped families, children, and conservative causes at a time when donors were scarce, was once the Chief Executive of MDI Holdings, Inc. — the Ponte Vedra Beach health care technology and analysis company that built their high-security, high-tech, state-of-the-art data processing facility in Nocatee.
A group of local investors, Grace Farms Investments LLC, led by Lewis Levi Ritter IV, purchased the site with plans to rezone the land for 40 to 50 single family homes. The land is located west of Interstate 95, north of Julington Creek Road and south of Old St Augustine Road, at the intersection of Plummer Grant Road and Joda Lane, according to published reports in the Jacksonville Business Journal.
Willich had critics of his spending habits, none of which seemed to concern him when he was on top of his game. Among other enterprises, MDI Holdings, Inc was also a third-party provider of medical services to prisons.
Beneficiaries of Willich’s generosity range from Willich Kids Bridge and the St Augustine Lighthouse, to the St Johns County public schools. He is a naturalist, conservationist, supporter of Second Amendment rights, made donations to a local Tea Party group, as well as the St Augustine Foot Soldiers monument in the Plaza de la Constitution. In June 2011, Richard Willich was selected as the first recipient of the “Unsung Hero Award”, for his compassion and commitment to those people in need.
Many of the children living in Lincolnville attend Ketterlinus Elementary School, one of the schools selected to participate in the Touch-Screen Interactive Project — a technology based program Willich created that provided iPads and iPod Touches to elementary schools in St Johns County. The goal of this program is to improve the learning skills of third and fourth grade students. This program included three schools; Crookshank Elementary, Ketterlinus Elementary, and Timberlin Creek Elementary.
MDI Holdings Inc. is now defunct — a court-appointed receiver liquidated the assets in early 2013. The opulent corporate headquarters was eventually lost to foreclosure. The building is now the corporate headquarters of Advanced Disposal.