It’s hard to imagine Destin without the Destin Commons. Earlier this month, the Commons celebrated their 15th anniversary.
Since their opening in 2003, the shopping center has become the place to go for entertainment, shopping and dining.
“We were the very first lifestyle center to come to the area during a time when the lifestyle center was becoming the new latest and greatest shopping opportunity,” said Heather Ruiz, the senior director of marketing and leasing for Destin Commons.
The center was developed in partnership between Turnberry Associates out of Miami and Destin developer Peter Bos' Legendary Inc.
"What Destin really needed and what the intention was, was to create a focal point for retail where you had a walk around environment," Bos said. "We really wanted a festival center where there was entertainment, where people could walk around with their kids and play in pop out fountains, and a state-of-the-art movie theater."
In a day and age where adults and kids are being encouraged to get off of their phones and computers and go outside, Destin Commons gives them that opportunity.
“We’re all time strapped, so to be able to combine one trip with great shopping, great dining, as well as your entertainment and an ambience of being outside, just gives (Destin Commons) a different feeling,” Ruiz said.
Ruiz attributed the center's success to their ability to provide something for everyone.
“We’re not a center that caters to just one type of demographic. Anybody can come here and feel welcome and find something that they enjoy eating, that they enjoy doing, or that they enjoy shopping for,” she said. “You can do everything at the Destin Commons from grocery shopping, you can go get you hair done, get your nails done, shop, eat, go to a movie, go bowling, we have something for everyone.”
With over 90 stores and more than 500,000 square feet of retail space, the shopping center has a 4.5 out of 5 rating on Trip Advisor, with visitors commenting on how clean the center was, how safe they felt and how beautiful it was.
"You can’t stay on the beach all day, you’ll burn to death," Bos said. "So shopping becomes a main attraction and in many guides, it’s listed in as the number one attraction in destination resort areas like Destin, so I think Common’s fits that bill."
A lot of the original stores, like Belk, Bass Pro and Johnny Rockets, are still staples of the center, while newer stores like Lizard Thicket and American Eagle’s Aerie expansion are still settling in.
Ruiz said the center is excited about the shift and moment they’ve been getting over the past year.
“In the early spring we’ve got Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen … and we’re very close to being able to announce an additional restaurant that will be open early next year as well,” Ruiz said.
But if you want to find out what that restaurant is, you’ll have to wait for a little bit as Destin Commons finalizes some details.
Ruiz said it’s been a fun experience for her to see how Destin Commons has grown over the years. The center was built when she was a freshman in college in Tallahassee and she would visit Destin Commons with her friends when she came home.
“Now, 15 years later, my kids have grown up on that playground and splash pad and we’re shopping at H&M together so it really is a center that has grown up with the population around here,” Ruiz said.