April 17, 2014

Development

Renewing Old Destin

A $200-million project dreamed up 32 years ago breaks ground.

Charlotte Crane | 12/1/2004
Driving over the Marler Bridge into Destin in 1972, developer Peter Bos got his first glimpse of what he and his Legendary Inc. associates now refer to as "the goosebump sight.''

"You come over the bridge and look down at that pass; it's not just the beach and the sand, but the harbor, the energy of the fishing boats," Bos says.

"So it's 32 years I've been dreaming of this project.''

The project is HarborWalk -- a 14-acre festive fishing village with 170,000 square feet of commercial space in 17 buildings and 281 condominium units in two 13-story towers at a cost edging into the $200-million range. Construction, spanning more than four years in two stages, started recently with excavation for the largely underground, 1,400-car garage.

HarborWalk will bring life back to the "old Destin,'' says Bos, 58. "And for that you need people'' -- tourists to browse through shops, eat in the restaurants and fish in the Gulf. Destin-area growth lately has been to the east, luring visitors to Seaside and St. Joe's WaterColor, and to Sandestin.

Destin City Manager Greg Kisela predicts HarborWalk will provide at least $1 million in annual tax revenue while helping solidify the city's vision of the harbor as a festive marketplace, a vision backed by business and property owners. Recent designation of the Harbor Community Redevelopment Area will funnel new property taxes into a $50-million facelift for the harbor -- "the heritage of our community,'' says Kisela, and home to a 100-boat charter fishing fleet.

HarborWalk, says charter boat owner Capt. George Eller, "is going to be fantastic. The west end of Destin is starving for good, thoughtful, well-planned development.''

HarborWalk won't lack luxury, with interiors of its Emerald Grande condominiums designed to mimic "the great yacht clubs of the 1920s,'' says Bos, offering concierge service, a spa, gyms bigger than Gold's and five heated, elevated swimming pools -- 63 feet above ground.

To increase affordability and occupancy, Bos is offering part-ownership, called fractionalizing, enabling buyers to own as little as one-eighth of a fully furnished unit. Prices for one-eighth ownership will start under $150,000 and run into the millions for 5,000-sq.-ft. suites.

A Destin-area dealmaker and business owner since 1979, Bos completed the $100-million Destin Commons last year, with partner Turnberry Associates of Aventura. Turnberry Harbour, an even-ritzier project with Turnberry -- 750 condominiums in several 30-story buildings -- is in limbo as Bos awaits a compromise over the buildings' height, primarily due to concern over possible impact on the weapons test mission of nearby Eglin Air Force Base.

Tags: Housing/Construction, Northwest

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