Northwest Florida roundup
Development of Landmark Center finally underway in Fort Walton Beach
Downtown Fort Walton Beach finally gets a mixed-use project that's been in the works for years.
It took nearly eight years, but construction finally began this summer on the Landmark Center, a $33-million mixeduse project on two acres in downtown Fort Walton Beach.
The five-story development will include a 112-room Hilton hotel, 24 loft-style condos, a conference center, retail and dining space and a garage.
Most restaurant spaces have already Been spoken for. Chef Ernie Danjean, owner of Dockside Oyster Bar in Niceville, will operate Roof Top Restaurant and Sky Bar, with additional restaurant and retail space on the ground floor. All executive offices have been leased in the 6,800-sq.- ft. Office center, with 12 separate tenants in the building.
The developer and the project’s backers say the center — built on property that’s part of a designated Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) — will kickstart the redevelopment of the downtown district, which has lagged activity in other northwest Florida communities, including nearby Destin.
The project’s developer, Ft. Walton Development Partners, has worked since 2006 to bring the plans to fruition. Delays came because of flaws in an early development agreement and negotiations between the city and the developers regarding the parking garage.
“This project is just like the name, truly a landmark for the city of Fort Walton Beach,” City Manager Michael Beedie says. “The impact of it will be huge; it will change the whole landscape for the area for the better.”
Profile Efficient Systems
Efficient Systems, which partners with Colombian company El TomaCorriente, leases bicycles with an electric motor and rechargeable battery to employers who then make the bikes available to their employees as a commuting option. The startup was founded by Tallahassee entrepreneurs and cycling enthusiasts Fabio Vargas and Maximo Mendoza.
The bikes can go up to 20 mph, produce no exhaust and can be folded up and carried into the office, the owners say. The company sets rates depending on the needs of each business. “If they want GPS tracking or cargo capacity for the bikes, we customize each program and set specific fees for each one,” Vargas says. Companies decide how much to charge their workers.
- Jim Haynes is the northwest Florida regional president for Centennial Bank, which has several branches in Bay County and others in Calhoun, Gulf, Franklin, Liberty and Wakulla counties.
- Sergey Kireyev is senior planner for the Tallahassee office of Hanson Professional Services. The company provides services on projects for municipal, state, federal and private-sector clients in Florida. Kireyev had been a land-use manager for the Florida Department of Transportation’s Aviation and Spaceports Office since 2007.
- Alicia Booker is the new Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce president. Booker is North Okaloosa Medical Center’s physician liaison and community programs director. She replaces Dennis Mitchell.
BAY COUNTY — American CareSource Holdings, a national network of health care providers and an operator of urgent care centers, acquired Bay Walk-In Clinic in Panama City and Panama City Beach.
FORT WALTON BEACH— Hibbett Sports opened at Uptown Station, replacing the 5,600-sq.-ft. space previously held by Bealls Outlet. The store has eight full- and part-time employees.
GULF BREEZE— Movies 4 Gulf Breeze Cinema is under new ownership and has been renamed Tree House Cinemas, located in the Live Oak Village Shopping Center. New owner Tripp Jordan plans to remake the Theaters as a family-friendly entertainment area.
MIRAMAR BEACH— Jos. A. Bank opened in the Silver Sands Premium Outlets.
NORTHWEST FLORIDA— ResortQuest Real Estate added 18 brokers to its team of more than 100 from Perdido Key to Panama City Beach.
PANAMA CITY BEACH— Dave & Buster’s opened in Pier Park shopping center, hiring 280 employees for its first location in northwest Florida.
PENSACOLA— The Port of Pensacola is gaining a new manufacturing facility, the result of a partnership between Offshore Inland and DeepFlex. The factory will be built on 3.5 acres at the port and is expected to generate 200 jobs. The facility, manufacturing and testing fexible piping for use in deep-sea applications, should be operational in late 2015. > Days Inn in historic downtown is undergoing renovations by owners Amrit & Sons. The inn, with 28 employees and 100 rooms after losing 50 rooms in a fire in 2000, reopens in August.
TALLAHASSEE— Tallahassee Community College won four 2013 Paragon Awards at the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations conference in New Orleans, more than any other Florida college.
WALTON COUNTY — Mossy Head Industrial Park received appropriations from the 2014-15 state budget, including $4.4 million for a new wastewater treatment plant to serve the companies operating at the park, along with $3 million for other infrastructure, including completion of internal roadways and drainage systems.