DESTIN — The City Council on Monday agreed with staff’s rankings of eight Gulf-front, Crystal Beach-area properties, one or more of which the city might buy in order to provide more public beach land for residents and visitors.
The city recently hired Humphrey & Associates of Fort Walton Beach, at a cost of $14,350, to appraise the eight parcels. The appraisals are 90 percent complete.
The parcels stand between Henderson Beach State Park and the Okaloosa County-owned James Lee Park. City staff ranked the properties based on various criteria, including each parcel’s linear beach footage, asking price and proximity to the heart of Destin.
Here are descriptions of the parcels, listed from highest- to lowest-ranked:
• Shore at Crystal Beach East #1, 2968 Scenic Highway 98: 0.44-acre parcel; 67 linear feet of beach; asking price of $3.375 million, or $50,373 per linear foot
• Capri, 3100 Scenic Highway 98: 2.1 acres; 300 linear feet; $13.2 million, or $44,000 per linear foot
• Shore at Crystal Beach East #2, 2970 Scenic Highway 98: 0.44-acre; 67 linear feet; $3.65 million, or $54,478 per linear foot
• Tarpon Beach, 3310-3324 Scenic Highway 98; 1.8 acres; 336 linear feet; $17 million, or $50,595 per linear foot
• Shore at Crystal Beach West (Crystal Port) 2942 Scenic Highway 98: 0.33-acre; 50 linear feet; $3.65 million, or $73,000 per linear foot
• Henderson Beach Villas, 2716-2740 Scenic Highway 98: 1.08-acre; 205 linear feet; $12 million, or $58,537 per linear foot
• Sunfish Street Parcel, 3430 Scenic Highway 98; 0.37-acre; 60 linear feet; $2.95 million, or $49,167 per linear foot
• West James Lee Park, adjacent to James Lee Park at 3510 Scenic Highway 98; 0.32-acre; 69 linear feet; $5 million, or $72,464 per linear foot.
In a 5-0 vote, the council also approved a motion from Councilman Skip Overdier to have staff set aside $2 million from the city’s non-allocated fund balance toward the city's public beach initiative.
That money could be combined with other possible sources, such as county bed-tax and Triumph Gulf Coast funds, to pay for the potential purchase of or upgrades to one or more of the parcels.
The council also approved paying up to $15,000 to an acquisition manager who will help the city on its quest to buy beach property.
Councilman Chatham Morgan abstained from voting on those items after saying one of his family members owns one of the parcels on the city’s list. Councilman Parker Destin was absent from the meeting.
The city’s public beach initiative goes back to at least last summer. According to city information, there are 13 beach access points within the city limits: 11 are city-owned, one is owned by the county and one is owned by the state.
But parking is limited at the city beach access points and many of them only provide entry to limited public beach frontage.
Mayor Gary Jarvis said the potential purchase of beach land for public access is one of the greatest things the city can do.
“The money (to buy property) is always the hard part,” he said.