If J. Crayton Pruitt has his way, Taylor County will never be the same. The retired St. Petersburg surgeon has plans to develop a $700-million marina and resort on 3,780 acres of timberland he owns north of Keaton Beach.
The project will include a waterfront boardwalk area surrounded by shops, restaurants and some 1,400 condo-hotel units. The 24-acre marina basin with 375 wet slips and dry storage for 499 boats will connect to the Gulf via a two-mile dredged channel. Pruitt also envisions a research laboratory and educational aquarium.
Magnolia Bay Marina and Resort, the largest-ever commercial project announced for the county, is the first-phase development for the tract owned by Pruitt, 74, an inventor, entrepreneur, philanthropist and land investor. An application for environmental permits for the 525-acre project was recently submitted to the Suwannee River Water Management District. Permitting, following review by several state and federal agencies, could take 12 to 18 months.
The site, edged by salt marshes, is described as one of the area's most pristine properties. "It's the last piece of property on the coastline between Tampa and St. Marks with potential for development,'' says project developer Chuck Olson, a Treasure Island commercial Realtor.
"This will have a huge economic impact, and especially on future tourism development,'' says Rick Breer, director of the Taylor County Development Authority.
Pruitt, who recently gave $10 million to the University of Florida department of biomedical engineering, has invented several medical devices, including a pioneering surgical shunt, and founded Ideas for Medicine for their manufacture.