For nine months an Army truck and sign advertising a theme park called G.I. Joe’s sat along U.S. Highway 98 on a 10.25-acre parcel of land directly west of Big Kahuna’s.
The military-themed teasers drew much attention to the proposed idea, so when the truck was removed two weeks ago and a sign reading “For Lease” went up in its place, The Log reached out to land owner Maxwell “Joe” Bruner to see what had become of his amusement park plans.
“Lack of cooperation from city hall and the state of Florida has cooled my interest,” said Bruner. “Although I have not abandoned the project, I am looking at other options to make the issue not as stressful.”
Bruner told The Log that pushback from the city and state made it hard to get the permits needed to begin building on his land and he is now reevaluating his ambitions to open the military-themed amusement park in Destin.
One of the sticking points, Bruner said, was the construction of a temporary road into the property.
“I’m considering picking it back up, but the last nine months have been so frustrating. I need the government to work with me.”
As for the city, Public Information Officer Doug Rainer said, “The city staff met with him (Bruner) on more than one occasion and laid out exactly what needed to take place in order to move his project forward. Part of that process was that he needed a development order to move forward with certain aspects of his project and he did not acquire one.”
Bruner said another reason he chose to reconsider his options is due to the grand opening of another recreational park he owns in Holt.
“The key thing is, I had to focus on one project so I focused on the Blackwater G.I. Joe’s,” he said. “Black Water Joe’s River Adventures Inc., opens this week. It’s a splendid outdoor family place with canoes and cabins.”
For the time being, Bruner said he is open to leasing his Destin property to developers with family entertainment ideas.
“Destin needs a recreation facility really badly,” Bruner said. “I believe that the highest and best use of that property would be a recreational family theme park.”