Destin moves forward with final piece of Shore at Crystal Beach expansion through eminent domain

There was originally a voluntary purchase agreement on the parcel but the owner backed out of the agreement. The property is currently being used as a vacation rental.

In late-2020, Okaloosa County and the City of Destin entered into an interlocal agreement to purchase three parcels adjacent to the Shore at Crystal Beach access in order to provide 251 feet of linear beach.

  • At this time, the city has purchased two of those parcels. The structures have been removed and are being used by the public.
  • Since then, negotiations for the final parcel have stalled.
  • $10.6 million was allocated for purchase of all three properties.

According to city documents, there was originally a voluntary purchase agreement on the parcel located at 2968 Scenic Highway 98, but the owner backed out of the agreement. The property is currently being used as a vacation rental.

Because of the location of this final parcel, the city of Destin has determined that it does have a public purpose and will be pursuing acquisition via eminent domain.

“The process that we’ve agreed to with the county is to essentially file an eminent domain case against the property,” said Steven Bauman, city attorney. “This is the middle parcel between the two parcels that have closed.”

Bauman says that before the city could file the action for eminent domain, there are some steps that have to be taken. The city council has already passed a motion of necessity, but the county will still have to get an updated appraisal on the property. The other major step is for the city to draft and file the complaint.

The city will end up in a trial where the court will make a decision on which appraisal to go with: the city’s or the property owner’s appraisal.

At this point, it’s not a matter of whether the city will acquire the parcel or not, but rather what will the final price be paid for the 3rd parcel.

The process could begin in just a matter of weeks.

NOTE: Even though the county is in partnership with the city of Destin on the Shore at Crystal Beach project, it is not part of the lawsuit.

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