Three new apartment complexes going up in South Walton should give the area an economic boost

SOUTH WALTON – Three new apartment complexes going up along U.S. Highway 98 in Walton County will hold an estimated 636 units, according to county planning records.


While that growth should represent a significant economic boost for the area, it’s growth that will also come with some significant challenges.


It’s the old adage of more money, more problems.


Albeit mostly good problems.


"Financially (the apartments) will be good, I’m guessing," said Walton County Public Information Manager Louis Svehla. "There are many things that affect our economy. Permanent residents is certainly one of them … while there is an increase in taxes (received), we must also increase service to provide for our new residents."


The three apartment complexes are being built by three different companies — Huff Construction is handling work on the complex at U.S. Highway 98 and Highway 393, which will be a planned 136 units.


Innerlight Engineering Corporation of Cypressbrook Company out of Texas is in charge of building the complex by Dune Lakes Elementary in Santa Rosa Beach — the largest of the three complexes at 283 units and the only one with a definite name, Forest View Village Apartments.


The St. Joe Company is handling construction on the last, 217-unit complex. That one is located adjacent to Watersound Origins, a mixed-use project from St. Joe off U.S. Highway 98 near the Bay County line that includes development for 1,074 single-family units, 256 multi-family units and over 400,000-square feet of commercial, retail and office space.


The Sacred Heart Health Systems medical facility is also under construction in the same area.


According to St. Joe Corporate Director of Marketing Mike Kerrigan, construction on the apartments, which still don’t have a name, began in June.


"We anticipate the apartments being completed in early 2021," Kerrigan said.


Representatives from Huff and Innerlight didn’t return calls or messages seeking details on when their projects would be complete.


The biggest anticipated headache for current and future residents will no doubt be traffic. but the Florida Department of Transportation is in the midst of a $42 million project on the same stretch of highway. That includes widening out from four to six travel lanes and adding bicycle lanes.


"This increase (in residents) is not only due to the fact that we offer a fantastic place to live, but it also represents that we continue to see an increase in new businesses that provide better and higher-paying jobs," Svehla said. "We continue to work to provide a high quality of life to our residents through increased recreational opportunities, public works projects and county enhancements."