Dolly meets Destin? Dolly Parton-backed development may serve up cowboy/pirate dinner theater

Matt Algarin
A Dolly Parton-backed development may serve up cowboy/pirate dinner theater, but the ‘ball is in their court,’ say county planners.

While lips are tight when it comes to a large-scale project along Commons Boulevard and U.S. Hwy. 98, records from the Okaloosa County Property Appraiser’s website suggest a Dolly Parton-backed project is in the works.

"I cannot disclose the intended use of the property," said Realtor John Paul Somers, who is involved in the deal. However, he adds "there is some exciting news that will be issued in the next few weeks."

While Somers says he can’t discuss the news, Okaloosa County planners say they have met with representatives of the project, though no formal plans are on file. Records show that over the past year, four large parcels of land have been purchased by two separate companies, CF SYN LLC and World Choice Investments LLC. The parcels range in size from 2.34-acres to 6.99-acres.

World Choice Investments is affiliated with The Dollywood Company, which operates the Dixie Stampede and Pirates Voyage dinner theaters in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Branson, Mo.

A LinkedIn profile for World Choice Investments also shows that the LLC does business as Dixie Stampede LLC, Pirates Voyage LLC and Great Choice Investments LLC.

"Sold" signs from John Paul Somers and Company surround the parcels, and show a sales price of $4,250,000 for the properties that make an L-shape. One of those properties was sold to World Choice by CF SYN LLC in December 2012.

According to the Dixie Stampede website, "Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede Dinner Shows are wonderful programs for all ages. The fabulous four-course feast and great entertainment makes it the most fun place to eat." Guests at the Pirate’s Voyage, meanwhile, “begin their voyage at the Pirate Village for a fun and interactive experience. They will then ship off to the main arena sectioned into Crimson and Sapphire pirate crew-quarters. As the experience continues, each side will compete to win the treasure of Davey Jones himself."

Okaloosa County Growth Management Director Elliot Kampert told The Log that he, as well as officials from the city of Destin, have met with representatives for the project recently.

"We talked about everything from parking to stormwater," Kampert said, noting that some of the proposed project would fall under both city and county jurisdiction based on the location of the parcels.

Given that the proposed site is split between city and county property, Kampert said the two entities would have to work through some specifics, such as taxing, traffic surveys and who would take the lead on what aspects of the project.

Community Development Director Ken Gallander said specifics of the project are confidential, but parts of the talks were based around the idea of annexing the property into the city of Destin. He said there would be "hurdles" involved with such a move. Much like any other business that looks to locate in Destin, Gallander said the representatives for this project are doing their due diligence.

"From my perspective, they are interested, but they are also looking at other areas," he said.

Since there are no iron-clad plans in place, Kampert said more details would be forthcoming as the proposed project moves forward.

"As of right now we are in wait mode; the ball is in their court,” he said.

Messages left for the Dixie Stampede marketing team were not returned by press time.