Of all the things that have come and gone in Destin, Sandpiper Cove has maintained its spot on Gulf Shore Drive for the past 40 years.
In 1973, construction for the condominium community began and went through 27 phases before final completion in 2000. Condos were brought in on barges to the Destin Harbor, since Gulf Shore Drive was nothing but a sandy road, said general manager Jack Scelsi.
Today, Sandpiper Cove boasts 631 units, six tennis courts, five swimming pools, three golf courses and three spas on its 43-acres.
"It's a very unique property," said Scelsi. "There's a camaraderie between the owners and they all have their own special interests."
Hurricanes, the BP oil spill and even the wavering economy has not threatened Sandpiper Cove. All 631 units are sold, and have been for many years, Scelsi noted. While most of the units are second-homes and rented out throughout the year, Sandpiper has seen an increase in owners coming to their condo and staying permanently. This increase is a testament to owners not just investing in Sandpiper, but truly being a part of the community, Scelsi said.
"Many of our owners are original owners or second generation owners," Scelsi said. "I'll talk to young families about how they came here with parents and have come back to re-live family memories. Several of them have bought condos based on those experiences."
Engaging in the local area is important to those living and working at Sandpiper Cove. When the Destin Middle School tennis team needed a court, Sandpiper offered its facilities.
Four years later, the school still holds their home matches there. Owners and staff participate in beach cleanups and left-behind toiletries are regularly donated to women's shelters.
Maintaining a family atmosphere has also been important to the Sandpiper community. Spring break has typically been a more quiet affair at Sandpiper.
"We have a zero tolerance for foolishness," Scelsi said. "We're a family-friendly community."
Looking back at photos of Sandpiper Cove in the mid-1970s is like looking back on Destin's history.
"The biggest change was in 1986, when Emerald Coast Parkway was established," said Annette Riedemann, Sandpiperís real estate broker. "It was still a sleepy, fishing village.
There were no high-rises, no Target, no Wal-Mart. We were so excited when K-Mart opened where Pottery Barn is now."
Even Mayor Sam Seevers was on the Sandpiper Cove staff once upon a time, where she was a rental manager for 14 years.
"I loved working there," she said. "During my time there, 97 percent of our revenue was repeat customers. Our staff worked very hard and we were proud of that fact. That job will go down in my history as being one of my most memorable jobs. It's part of who I am today, truly."
While Sandpiper Cove has transformed physically over the years, such as the condoís color change from "battleship grey" to a pastel yellow, it has remained a popular and pleasant place to stay and live.
"All the changes have been positive," Riedemann. "It's one of the oldest condominiums in town, but itís well-maintained and still one of the most popular resorts."