A HOTEL ON THE HORIZON?: Developer’s change may lead to hotel at Regatta Bay

Matt Algarin
This parcel of land along U.S. Hwy. 98 at Regatta Bay could be the home of a proposed development if a modification to the Regatta Bay master plan is approved by the county.

A hotel may one day rise in front of Regatta Bay if county leaders OK a modification to the existing build-out plans for the gated community.

The change has been filed with Okaloosa County.

"It's an amendment to their development order for their master plan," County Planner Marissa Martinez told The Log. "No plans (for development) have been submitted yet."

According to documents on file at the City Hall Annex, under the current Planned Unit Development for Regatta Bay, developers were approved to build a total of 549 units as part of "future development," which would consist of 367 single-family homes and 150 apartments. It would also permit a community called "The Enclave," which would have 32 units.

The developers want to reduce the number of future apartments from 150 to 32, which would allow them to construct a hotel. There would also be a reduction in the amount of square footage that's been approved for office space on the property.

"With the reduced density and intensity, we are proposing to include a 209-unit hotel complex with meeting rooms," the application reads. The maximum intensity of the proposed hotel would be no more than 333,875 square feet.

The proposed apartments cannot exceed 75-feet in height, and the hotel cannot exceed 99-feet, documents show. The proposed project would take place on a series of parcels along U.S. Hwy. 98 and Legendary Drive.

The land that would be developed is owned by Emerald Grande Development, LLC, and Robert J. Guidry Financial Services, LLC.

Legendary Inc.'s Thomas Patton, who is listed on the paperwork, told The Log there are no immediate plans to build on the parcels. He said the change would just allow them to build something more useful given current market trends, as opposed to office space, which is currently plentiful in Destin.

"This is not a project; we're just trying to get the land use changed to something the economy will support," he said. "We feel as though there is a potential demand for hotels in this market."

The proposed change will come before county planners Feb. 14 at 5:01 p.m., when they meet in the City of Niceville Board Room at 208 North Parton Drive. The meeting is open to the public.

County commissioners will discuss the proposed changes during their March 19 meeting at 8:30 a.m. in the Okaloosa County Water and Sewer building in Fort Walton Beach.