Could Dolly be getting closer to Destin?: Demolition permits issued for Parton-affiliated parcels

Matt Algarin
A used car dealership and a landscaping company once called this area along Henderson Beach Road and Commons Drive home, but the buildings are being removed to potentially make room for a Dolly Parton-backed dinner theater.

While there is plenty of action taking place on a series of parcels owned by World Choice Investments LLC, lips are still tight on a potential project.

"All I can say is it's going to be a very new, exciting development, and an economic driver for the area," said Broker and Realtor John Paul Somers, who sold the parcels to the Tennessee-based company.

World Choice Investments, which purchased four large parcels of land along U.S. Hwy 98 and Commons Drive near Walmart in December 2012, 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.

Since the purchase, there have been plenty of rumors that a Dolly Parton-inspired dinner theater would be making its way to Destin.

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."

Three of the parcels, which range in size from 2.34-acres to 6.99-acres, are located in the city limits of Destin, while the parcel that is home to the abandoned First National Bank at 17005 Emerald Coast Parkway is in unincorporated Okaloosa County and falls outside of the city's jurisdiction.

County Planner Marissa Martinez told The Log that a demolition permit was filed on behalf of William G. Yates of Yates Construction. The permit is for the demolition of the 21, 601-square-foot bank building. The permit was approved in April and expires in October.

City of Destin Planning Manager Ashley Grana said World Choice Investments has also applied for, and been granted, a demolition permit for the buildings along Henderson Beach Drive, next to Walmart. The permit was approved in April.

As for a development order, Grana said he has "nothing for those parcels."

A message left for World Choice Investment's Corporate Director of Sales Steve Ellis was not returned before press time.