Around the State
The state Cabinet found that Coastal Petroleum Co.'s $224.5 million surety bond isn't enough to cover the costs of potential accidents, and it remanded to the Department of Administrative Hearings the company's permit to drill an exploratory oil well off the coast of St. George Island.
Development will help pay for city services now that the Destin City Council has approved ordinances creating impact fees, $289 for a new home and $209 for each new resort residential unit.
Veda Operations, a national defense contractor, plans to open a new facility and create 25 technology jobs by September. The company, part of Washington, D.C.-based Veridian Corp., provides database and quality-control services for the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile systems.
Folks Restaurants Ltd. launched a scaled-down version of its PoFolks restaurants. PoFolks Express features a similar menu and operates in mall food courts. Folks owns and operates a 26-store, nationwide PoFolks chain.
Inacomp acquired Destin Lab Group. Both offer computer network sales & service. Lab Group, based in Destin, will keep its name.
St. Joe Corp. announced plans to turn Southwood, a 3,200-acre parcel of land in Leon County, into the first of several St. Joe communities. The company also said it will donate land for a new medical school at Florida State University if the state approves a med school.
Private developer and multimillionaire DeVoe Moore says he'll build a $10 million, 6,500-seat stadium for the Orlando Rays, a minor league, double-A farm team for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, but only if local government ponies up some money. Leon County and the city refused. The last time a minor league baseball team called Florida's capital home was 48 years ago.
Retailer Abercrombie & Fitch expects to move into Governor's Square Mall and fill the vacancy left by The Limited.
Construction of a county government center that will bring agencies and offices together under one roof can proceed now that the Legislature has approved the county's purchase of 420 acres of land for $250 an acre, which is what the state paid in 1992 when the county first sought the land.
WALTON COUNTY (more)
Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, the Panhandle's most lavish, has a new owner. Resort company Intrawest Corp., based in Vancouver, British Columbia, paid $130 million to Southeast Asian multinational Sime Darby for the resort, including condos, golf courses and a retail center.
Sime Darby, based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, has interests in real estate and tire manufacturing, but its banking operation incurred a mountain of debt due to the Asian currency crisis, which led to a $172 million loss for the last half of 1997. Sime Darby bought the resort from its developer, Peter Bos, for $50 million in 1991, initiated about $60 million in residential construction and built a second golf course.
Intrawest expects to add 200,000 square feet of commercial space to the shopping center and 2,300 residential units, condos and single-family homes. The company also plans to build a walking village near the resort's marina and redesign the 63 holes of golf. In April, Intrawest purchased Raven Golf Group, which operates courses in Arizona. "We plan to reposition the existing Sandestin courses and build a new high-end championship course called The Raven at Sandestin," says Intrawest CEO Joe Houssian.
Not included in the sale are the Hilton Hotel and private residences. The new owners plan to retain management and staff. Intrawest owns and operates snow-ski resorts.
A Major Local Employer...
... responded to county/chamber of commerce incentives by committing to a $100 million expansion project. Near the town of Gonzalez, 15 miles north of Pensacola, St. Louis-based Solutia Inc. operates the world's largest nylon-producing factory, employing 1,500. When Solutia, the former chemical division of Monsanto Co., was spun off as a public company last September, Pensacola economic development officials were worried. "We weren't sure that Solutia would stay here," says Ted Clem, vice president, economic development, for the Pensacola Area Chamber of Commerce. "So, we let them know how important they were to the community."
A public-private partnership of county leaders and business people from the Committee of 100 and the chamber offered Solutia a 10-year exemption from ad valorem property taxes, a break valued at $3.7 million, as well as fast-track permitting for any expansion plans. Solutia, with annual sales of $3 billion, responded by announcing its capital improvement project, which is expected to create 100 new jobs when finished in 1999.
The Gonzalez plant manufactures trademarked Wear-Dated carpet and is increasing its nylon carpet production by more than 45 million pounds annually. "It is important that we have the capacity in place to support the needs of our customers in all the world areas where we are operating," says Ann McCorvey, general manager for Solutia's nylon, plastics and polymers business.
Bill Neron, an assistant county administrator, says the partnership between Escambia County and the Committee of 100/Pensacola Area Chamber of Commerce is a matter of common sense. "We've got a good working relationship and a really good example of private-public partnership."