Developers now have a little more time for their projects to go vertical after Monday night's City Council meeting — but not as much time as they were hoping for.
Up for debate was whether or not to grant a one-year extension for projects that currently have active development orders. This would ideally give the developers more time to get their projects off the ground.
Back in 2009 the City Council granted a two-year extension to all active development orders. Since then changes at the state level saw development orders receive an additional extension, although no extensions were granted as part of the 2013 legislative cycle.
During the city's Feb. 24 meeting, they had originally considered granting developers a two-year extension, but parsed it down to one year before proceeding.
The city currently has a list of 23 active development orders on file. Of those, 15 were issued between 2005 and 2011 and could take advantage of the extension. They include Caretta Dunes (an 80-unit condo), which has until Dec. 31 to begin construction; Harbor Reflections (a 28-unit condo, 99-unit hotel), which has until March 17; Village Inn Development (82-unit condo, 142-unit hotel), which has until April 21 to begin construction; and Beach Pointe Condominiums II (a 5-unit condo), which has until Sept. 9 to begin construction.
In order for these projects to remain active, they must file for an extension.
After spending "several hundred thousand dollars" to acquire a development order from the city, local attorney Dana Matthews said it makes perfect sense to extend the deadline for developers.
"These projects have been on hold and it seems like it would be unfair to make property owners start from scratch again," he said during last week's meeting. "A two year extension is fair."
While a slow economy and a lack of available lending was one of the reasons given for the extensions, Councilman Jim Bagby said that's not really the case. He said there are about 17 houses under construction in Crystal Beach. He also pointed to the Destin Commons expansion that is underway.
“People can get money and people are starting construction, and it's going on throughout the city," he said.
Despite the feedback last week, when the item came up Monday night there was little discussion and the proposed ordinance was passed on second reading, which means it will officially become a new regulation in the city. The item was approved unanimously.