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Destin City Council considers purchase of 7.6 acre land near Destin Elementary School

The Destin City Council held a meeting on Thursday night. At the end of the meeting, the council discussed the potential purchase of a 7.6-acre parcel of land adjacent to […]

Source: LoopNet

The Destin City Council held a meeting on Thursday night. At the end of the meeting, the council discussed the potential purchase of a 7.6-acre parcel of land adjacent to Destin Elementary School.

  • The vacant land, located at 401 Beach Drive, recently went up for sale, prompting interest from the city and school district.

Council-member Kevin Schmidt brought the matter to the council, providing background that a few weeks ago a “For Sale” sign went up on the lot next to the elementary school. He noted the parcel could allow for expansion of the elementary school facilities and recreation space.

Schmidt recalled previous conversations where veteran council members had expressed regret about not purchasing this property in the past when it was available.

  • “The opportunity is knocking on our doorstep,” said Schmidt on Thursday night. “I think we should try to do everything we can do to buy that property.”
Source: LoopNet

The property has an institutional deed restriction, limiting it to non-residential community uses. The current owner purchased it for $1.6 million several years ago, with architectural plans for a potential 3-story assisted living facility. However, it has remained vacant land.

The Okaloosa School District confirmed they have plans to expand Destin Elementary with a new 32 classroom addition for 4th-5th grade to be completed in late 2025. However, Assistant Superintendent Steve Horton clarified the 7.6-acre parcel is not needed for their currently planned 2-story expansion.

  • He said the school district may still have interest in obtaining a portion of the land. This would allow them to shift the new building footprint over to provide more green space and play area inside the campus.
Source: LoopNet

Some council members raised concerns about how the purchase would be funded. Council-member Jim Bagby pointed out the city is “maxed out” on their debt and asked “Where’s the money coming from?” Council-member Dewey Destin also cautioned that the city cannot make a formal monetary offer until an appraisal is conducted.

  • The council discussed potentially partnering with the school district to split the cost.

After debate, the council unanimously approved a motion directing the city manager and attorney to initiate discussions with the school board to gauge their interest in a partnership. The council wants them to explore the possibility of jointly obtaining the property, but specified not to make any formal offers until an appraisal is completed.

  • Due to the property being in Canadian bankruptcy court, there is no official listing price but rather a “suggested” price of $4 million for the 7.6-acre parcel, according to Destin City Attorney Kim Kopp.

The city has until September 12th to submit an initial letter of intent. The council aims to acquire the land to allow for school expansion, maintain recreation space, and partner with community organizations.

Purchasing the parcel would require identifying funding sources in the city’s budget. Pending a favorable appraisal, which the school district has ordered, the council would need to call a special meeting next week regarding an official offer on the parcel.

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