For the past week, “sidewalk closed” signs have lined the sidewalk on the north side of U.S. Highway 98 between Benning Drive and Beach Drive.
While you may think it’s a part of FDOT’s Harbor Boulevard project, it actually has to do with the new Gregg Orr Pre-Owned Auto dealership being built next to Half-Hitch on U.S. 98.
According to Kevin Kaple, general manager of Gregg Orr Marine, the only part of the sidewalk that is actually being worked on is directly in front of the new dealership.
“Whenever you tear up sidewalk, no matter what, you have to put a sidewalk detour signs from nearest crosswalk to nearest crosswalk, according to FDOT,” Kaple said.
Construction on the new dealership began in April 2018 and is expected to be completed near the end of February. The sidewalk work is expected to be completed by the end of next week, weather permitting.
“It’s been a long process, but we’re really excited for it,” he said.
Kaple said the new location will be an extension of their current pre-owned dealership located on Main Street.
“They do really good business over there so these guys are super stoked to be on a higher traffic road,” he said.
Inventory from the other 28 Gregg Orr dealerships that are spread out between Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and here in Destin will be brought in to stock the new car lot.
In addition to the dealership, a new Gregg Orr Marina is being built across the street on the Destin harbor. It will feature a small sales building, a new dock, retainer wall and a boardwalk. All of the boats docked at the marina will be ready for test drives at all times.
“What better way to see if you like a boat than a little introductory cruise around the harbor and then you can go test drive it in the gulf or in the bay, so it’s super nice,” Kaple said.
Construction on the marina will take some time as the contractor for the marina is based out of Panama City and was set back due to Hurricane Michael.
“It was about a month and a half before they could get back over here but they’ve been steadily working on it for about three weeks,” Kaple said. “We probably won’t see the beginnings of the building until June.”
He estimates the marina will be open by January 2020.
“It’s just a super complicated piece of property because of the upper retainer wall,” he said. “That itself will probably take about three months to build and the building will sit on a part of that wall.”
Kaple has been with the Gregg Orr company for 10 years, but has lived in Destin for the past 30. He helped open the first Gregg Orr Marina in Hot Springs, Arkansas, six years ago and said Gregg Orr is a good businessman who loves his employees.
“We’re close to 800 employees total and he knows every one of them,” Kaple said about his boss. “He’s been coming to Destin since he was a kid and has a place near Watercolor. He just loves the area.”