Northwest Florida Roundup
Pensacola approves plans to build 29,000-sq.-ft. food hall
Belmont Hall has room for 10 aspiring chefs.
The city of Pensacola has approved plans by two Pensacola entrepreneurs to build a 29,000-sq.-ft. indoor/outdoor food hall, event space and downtown family entertainment complex. Developers Alistair McKenzie and Jordan Yee say the project is meant to provide a launching pad for area chefs who want to start their own restaurants.
Yee says Belmont Hall will provide vendor space for 10 aspiring chefs. In June, Pensacola’s Architectural Review Board approved an initial design concept for the complex, which also includes a breakfast restaurant.
Vendors will be offered short-term, one- to two-year agreements with Belmont Hall, McKenzie says. Customers will be able to buy food and dine inside the 15,000-sq.-ft., two-story building or at the 14,000-sq.-ft. outdoor space and courtyard.
Yee says the overall goal of Belmont Hall is to attract new chefs and give them an affordable opportunity to establish a clientele and eventually open their own restaurants.
“It is difficult for Pensacola’s chefs to realize their dreams of owning a restaurant because of the cost of opening a new restaurant,” says McKenzie. “And when talented chefs can’t realize their dreams, they leave Pensacola with their families in search of better opportunities.”
Yee and McKenzie say their plans call for opening Belmont Hall sometime in 2022.
- Tallahassee Community College is one of 10 finalists for the 2021 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, considered one of the country’s most prestigious recognitions of achievement and performance among community colleges. TCC was chosen from among 150 community colleges reviewed by the Aspen Institute, a non-profit think tank based in Washington, D.C. To select an overall winner from the 10 finalists, the institute’s judges will conduct site visits and examine data submitted by the colleges on learning, graduation rates and the relevance of curricula to regional workforce needs. Early next year, the panel will name the top community college and a “rising star” from among the 10 finalists; the two winners will share $1 million.
- Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet have approved a 17,080-acre land conservation acquisition in Wakulla and Franklin counties. The Nature Conservancy negotiated a $43-million purchase agreement with Ochlockonee Timberlands, the previous owner. The option purchase agreement specified that the land would be offered solely to the state for inclusion in its Florida Forever conservation program.
- The Fenholloway pipeline construction project, a $71-million project by Georgia-Pacific, has been completed. The pipeline will redirect treated wastewater from Georgia Pacific’s Foley Cellulose Mill in Taylor County to the Fenholloway River near where it empties into the Gulf of Mexico. Previously, treated wastewater from the Foley mill entered the river upstream at the plant site. Piping it farther south is part of an extensive plan to restore the river, the company says.
- More than 3,000 acres of surplus land on Tyndall Air Force Base in Bay County will be made available for long-term lease to private developers. The Department of Defense’s enhanced use lease program will allow development of housing, hotels, golf courses, a marina and other types of commercial uses. The land is located behind the Tyndall AFB main gate. First priority for leasing will be given to developers of housing and recreational projects that will benefit Air Force personnel and their families while stationed at Tyndall. “We lost over 800 homes during Hurricane Michael, and we’re looking to build back 583 homes,” says Tyndall spokesman Col. Gregory Beaulieu.
- Ascension Medical Group Sacred Heart has opened a health care facility in the Watersound Origins community in South Walton County. The outpatient office offers primary care and OB-GYN services.
- Santa Rosa County commissioners have approved a 1,055- home residential subdivision by developer and property owner Edwin Henry. The subdivision will be near the town of Milton on land adjacent the Bennett Russell Elementary School. Single-family homes will range from $175,000 to $400,000, says Henry. Meanwhile, Henry is one of several plaintiffs in a civil suit that seeks to block the collection of a $5,000 impact fee on all newly built residential single-family dwellings. The proposed revenue would be earmarked to help public schools accommodate student population growth brought on by new residential housing developments.
Former Gov. Wayne Mixson
Former Gov. Wayne Mixson died July 8. The Democrat from North Florida served as the state’s chief executive for three days from Jan. 3-6, 1987, after Gov. Bob Graham was elected to the U.S. Senate and before Bob Martinez took office.
Florida’s shortest-serving governor was first elected to the state House in 1967 and subsequently won five consecutive terms.
He was 98.
- Hospitalizations in Escambia County surged nearly 50% in July. The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration also reported in July that all of Escambia County’s 118 available intensive care units were occupied.
- The Florida Public Service Commission has approved a proposal that would clear the way for Gulf Power to pass along accounting costs of safety-related measures as well as bad debt from customers not paying bills to its approximately 428,000 customers.
- The Bay County Commission has agreed to accept the first installment of a $30-million allocation of COVID-19 funds from the Coronavirus Relief Fund. The $7.6-million allocation will be earmarked for businesses and municipalities that have experienced unanticipated expenditures because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Taylor County commissioners have rejected calls to mandate the wearing of face masks in all public buildings.
Read more in Florida Trend's September issue.
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