Pensacola, Florida
Wednesday October 17th 2018

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Outtakes—Pick a Deal

By Rick Outzen

Pretend you are the mayor of Pensacola. You are presented two real estate deals. Which deal would you choose to support?

Deal A calls for construction of a $9.4-million building and provides another $9.4 million to operate the facility for five years. The government agency would pay $50 a year to lease the land. No ad valorem taxes would be paid. The facility would employ 10-12 people.

Deal B calls for $20 million of construction for buildings on three parcels. The lease fee is $120,000 a year. Buildings on two of the parcels would pay ad valorem taxes. Over 100 jobs would be created.

Deal A is an industrial fish hatchery on Bruce Beach. School children could visit the facility and learn about the hatchery process. The plans have an option to build a pedestrian bridge to connect the site to the UWF Historic Trust’s Maritime Trail and four markers highlighting the history of the area. The city has applied for other grants to add a kayak launch on the beach.

Deal B is for the UWF Center for Entrepreneurship, a $10 million, 55,000-square-foot building that would be a downtown campus for the university on parcel six of the Community Maritime Park, a conference center and Blue Wahoos training facilities on parcel nine and childcare and a sports museum on parcel three.

Deal A did not go through the request for proposal process. It was offered to only one entity. No appraisal was done. Though Bruce Beach is in the CRA, the Community Redevelopment Agency never approved the lease, as required by law.

Deal B was approved by the Community Maritime Park Associates Board of Directors after nine months of hearings and negotiations. The parcels had been on the market for two years. They were appraised. Another company bid on the parcels and later withdrew its offer.

Deal A does not comply with the CRA Development Plan, the city’s Land Use Plan or its Comprehensive Plan. The plans do not allow an industrial production facility on Bruce Beach.

Deal B does comply with the plans.

Deal A would require an industrial waste permit and would dump its effluent into Pensacola Bay.

Deal B would use the ECUA sewer system and require no waste permit.

For most people, Deal B is clearly the best deal for the city of Pensacola. The development enhances the economic growth in downtown Pensacola, creates jobs, adds additional tax revenue and increases property values.

Unfortunately, Mayor Hayward chose Deal A. The Maritime Park parcels remain empty, and the hatchery is mired in the courts.