As the economy continues to show signs of recovery, city leaders are considering an ordinance that would basically give developers more time to get a project off the ground.
“I think people are trying to get everything together to start working on things that have been in the pipeline,” Councilman Tuffy Dixon said.
The ordinance, if approved by the city council, would extend the expiration deadline on projects in the city that have received a final development order by 2 years.
This isn't the first time developers have had the opportunity to file for an extension since the real estate market crash and recession of the early to mid-2000s. The city granted two-year extensions in 2009 and the state Legislature passed a blanket extension in 2011, which expires on Dec. 31.
Looking at the city's current ordinance, developers can file for a one-time, 12-month extension that would give them more time to secure a building permit and begin construction.
The city will add an additional section to their current code that's called a "special economic condition extension." This will allow the developer/applicant to file a written request to the community development department seeking an extension.
Currently there are 23 development orders on file at the city of Destin that could apply for such extension. Of those, some of the projects are close to reaching the point where they must begin construction or file for an extension.
The 1900 98 project, which is slated to be the first Gulf front development in 6 years, must begin construction by Dec. 31, The project, which would be located along Restaurant Row, was originally issued a development order in 2007.
Other projects such as Caretta Dunes (an 80-unit condo), Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village, Village Inn (mixed-use development), Harbor Reflections (mixed-use development), Whitehead Pontoon Rental are up against 2014 deadlines.
While city leaders seemed in favor of the development order extensions, they were also clear that they didn’t want to leave the process open-ended.
“We need to have a date certain,” said city councilwoman Sandy Trammell said. “I understand that businesses are in a quandary, but this is doing business,”
Gallander said still to be determined is whether newer projects such as Whitehead Pontoon Rental and 1900 98 should be able to qualify for an extension since it is designed to assist those who were affected by the economic downturn.
"That's something we have to talk about," he said.
Since city leaders are still early in the process of developing a proposed ordinance, city staffers are working on drafting language, which will be presented to the city council for review before it's sent to the Local Planning Agency for review.
Any new ordinance must go through two public readings where residents can voice their opinions. No firm timeline has been set for when the proposed ordinance my come back for city review.
"We are still early in the process," Gallander said.