The Okaloosa County Board of County Commissioners will hold a special meeting Tuesday, February 13, to discuss acquiring 207 acres of Eglin Air Force Base property west of Northwest Florida State College’s Niceville campus for a potential affordable housing development.
- The 2 p.m. meeting at the county’s Crestview Courthouse will focus on potentially purchasing the land near College Boulevard.
The county sent a letter of intent to Eglin last August stating interest in developing workforce housing on the wooded site once used as a golf course. In the letter, then-Commissioner Trey Goodwin outlined an overview of what the county would like to pursue.
“The intent of this proposal is to expand the opportunity of various segments of our population to obtain practical, affordable housing,” wrote Goodwin. “Though only in the concept stage, the vision is a mix of single-family and multi-family units that would be sold to a blend of owners that would include service personnel, senior citizens, and the general population. The exact mix would be refined as the planning matures in preparation for actual development.”
- Along with the residential components, the letter indicated that various commercial uses are being contemplated “not only to support the needs of the future residents, but also to provide much-needed, viable office space for defense support contractors and offer new retail options for all of Okaloosa County’s residents and visitors.”
Although a number of issues arose during early negotiations, the County and Military continued to discuss the project. Last week, the potential to purchase the property fee simple was offered to the County.
According to county documents, any actual sale would be subject to a process involving appraisals and legislative action from Congress. “The process will likely take some amount of time to complete, which would allow some of the other details to be developed beyond any acquisition,” according to the county.
The property itself is shown as 207 acres and indicates approximately 36 acres of wetland/conservation due to Mill Creek running through the property. The current cost of the property is unknown as of this time.
- Any housing development would have height restrictions and lighting standards to avoid interfering with Eglin’s missions. Previous mixed-use plans also included potential defense contractor offices and new retail space.
Funding the acquisition remains undetermined, but county documents show potential sources including general fund reserves, affordable housing fees, American Rescue Plan Act money and state housing grants. Each option carries various development conditions and spending timeline limitations.