'Beach Weekend' project will bring marina, wedding and event venue to downtown Fort Walton

Tony Judnich
Northwest Florida Daily News

FORT WALTON BEACH — Before next summer, local businessman Jayme Nabors plans to unveil “Beach Weekend,” a cumulative brand that will consist of a wedding/event venue on Brooks Street downtown, a major marina nearby on U.S. Highway 98 and several new short-term rental homes on Okaloosa Island.

On Friday, Nabors discussed those plans while standing on the almost 1-acre property at 109 Brooks St. that will be home to the elevated, 5,500-square-foot Beach Weekend Venue building.

He said that structure will include a full commercial kitchen and a large patio overlooking the Santa Rosa Sound and docks. The outdoor area will include a fire pit, parking area and an expansive lawn, as well as a path connecting to Fort Walton Landing.

Fort Walton Beach businessman Jayme Nabors is developing Beach Weekend Venue on Brooks Street in downtown Fort Walton Beach.

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The Venue, which will host community events in addition to weddings and other destination events, should be ready to open in late spring, Nabors said.

The Venue site is just west of Indianola on the Water condominiums and a Native American midden mound.

An iron fence guards the mound, a grassy hill containing oyster shells and live oak trees, as well as a sign that includes the words “Indian Mound.” The more than 1,000-year-old mound stands directly west of Fort Walton Landing.

In 2004, the future of the mound was much debated after developers sought to build on the property. In the end, Indianola on the Water builders worked around the mound, which is situated where a swimming pool was once proposed.

An artist's rendering shows the future Beach Weekend Venue in downtown Fort Walton Beach.

For the Beach Weekend Venue site next door, Nabors said a state-required archaeological survey recently was conducted by Prentice Thomas & Associates, a cultural resource management firm in Mary Esther.

The Indianola Mound site extends across the property of the future wedding/event venue. Its primary prehistoric component consists of a mound and plaza/occupation/use area with evidence affiliated with Santa Rosa/Swift Creek and Early to Middle Weeden Island eras (circa 250 to 600 AD), according to information from Prentice Thomas & Associates.

“They had to excavate any of the places that we would be disturbing for construction” at 109 Brooks St., Nabors said of the archaeologists. “They found some scattered pieces of pottery and part of an arrowhead. They were found a couple of feet deep, closer to Brooks Street.”

He said the firm turned in a report on its findings to the state, which later issued an approval to move forward with the project. Nabors plans to display the items in the wedding/event venue building.

The overall Beach Weekend project also will include a 100-slip reconfigured marina at 12 Miracle Strip Parkway S.W. (U.S. 98) that formerly was used by MarineMax and other businesses. MarineMax, which is a tenant of Nabors’, will continue to provide boat sales and service just west of the Beach Weekend Marina.

Nabors and Beach Weekend General Manager Gretchen Haney said 90 brand-new Harris pontoon boats will be available for rent at the marina, which has 2.5 acres of upland and 4.5 acres of submerged property.

In addition, a 49-passenger Beach Weekend catamaran will take passengers on snorkeling outings, sunset cruises and trips to see fireworks displays. It also will be available for private rentals.

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The catamaran, which will have beer and wine service, also will be used to transport guests at the wedding/event venue to several Beach Weekend short-term vacation rental properties north of Santa Rosa Boulevard on Okaloosa Island. Nabors' brother, Bobby Nabors, will manage those rental properties as well as Beach Weekend vacation rentals in downtown Fort Walton Beach.

Visitors to the marina also will be able to receive eFoil lessons. An eFoil is a surfboard with an electric propeller just above the wing of the hydrofoil, which powers the board to move through any water, according to the website, windfoilzone.com.

Fort Walton Beach businessman Jayme Nabors stands at the site of the future Beach Weekend Marina on U.S. Highway 98 in downtown Fort Walton Beach.

Next to the marina, an elevated building of about 4,200 square feet now under construction will provide boat rental services, showers and restrooms, and will contain a store that sells boating supplies and other items.

“The highest and best use for waterfront is typically residential development. Waterfront access ends up being collateral damage,” Jayme Nabors said. “Being able to take a piece of property like this and turn it around for strictly recreational waterfront access is incredible.”

He noted that the marina will be within walking distance of about 350 hotel rooms spread among the existing Residence Inn and La Quinta Inn and Suites and the Microtel hotel that’s under construction.

The marina and vacation rental projects should be completed by March, Nabors said.

To learn more, visit thebeachweekend.com.