26-slip home for bay fishing boats is in the works off Calhoun Avenue in Destin
A dock complete with 26 boat slips for bay boats may be ready to go by next season.
Mike Buckingham and Wayne Lung of West End RV LLC are looking to build a 390-plus foot T-dock with 26 boat slips with lifts at 105 and 109 Calhoun Avenue on Choctawhatchee Bay on the west end of Destin.
"I've been pushing very hard for the last two years to try and get the city to purchase a marina in the harbor and have a city marina. ... I'm still hoping for that. My goal is to protect the fishing industry," Buckingham said.
But when his friend, Lung, said he wanted to do something with bay fishing boats on his property, "that was right up my alley," Buckingham said.
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So, their idea is to keep the deep-sea sport fishing boats over on the harbor side and have a home for the bay fisherman on Calhoun.
"That's our goal," Buckingham said.
"There's not enough slips over there for all of them now," he said, noting he and Lung have both had fishermen reach out to them and are excited about the possibility of a bay-side dock.
Buckingham got approval from the Destin City Council at the Oct. 17 meeting for the commercial marine project. One of the concerns, however, was the length of the dock.
"We're asking to go farther out because of the seagrass," Buckingham told the council.
Lung had already discussed the project with the Department of Environment Protection and the Corps of Engineers.
"They want the seagrass to be able to grow at that depth," Lung said, noting they wouldn't be able to put boats in the first 100 feet or so of the pier.
"We are nowhere near the navigable channel, that's why the corps and DEP said no problem," Buckingham said.
The council approved the project 7-0 with the stipulation that they bring it back before council for final approval on the development order.
"We'd like to see the whole plan," Councilman Kevin Schmidt said.
The property, at 105 and 109 Calhoun, has 208 feet of waterfront, 86 paved parking spaces, a restaurant that is almost complete, and two 100-foot piers, one on the north end of the property and one on the south end. It is located just north of Capt. Leonard Destin Park.
"We're getting close to having it done," Buckingham said of the restaurant. The facility may also be used as a wedding venue.
On the south end of the property, the two are planning to build a 4,200-square-foot Dick's Oyster Bar.
"When this place is built, it will be a big old open, get a cold beer and a dozen oysters, a sandwich … something light and easy (type place)," Buckingham said.
The new pier will be located between the two existing piers. And the restaurants will be on each side of the property.
"We're not running a restaurant, but we know people that want to," Buckingham said.
And the boat slips will work hand-in-hand with the restaurants.
"Bay fishing boats … for all intents and purposes, that's what we're doing. That's the market I want to get," Lung said for the slips.
"We'll have the restaurants. People can go out fishing, come back and eat breakfast or lunch … keep those people here," Lung said.
"For the record … I'm hearing, 'We can't wait for you to get this done,'" Buckingham said.
Some of the boat captains have parking problems for their customers right now with them being late because they can't find a parking spot.
"We don't have a parking issue," Buckingham said, noting they have 86 parking spots.
Along with parking, each of the boat slips will have a lift.
"They've got to have lifts. It's rough here in certain times … it will tear your boat up and my dock," Lung said.
"The tides are tough here at times ... and we want professionals out here," Buckingham said.
Although there is still some paperwork to go through with the city, the two are already excited about the pier and possibilities.
"I want to have fishing tournaments," Lung said.
Buckingham even tossed out the idea of a sign out front that says "Bay Boat Fishing Marina."
The two are hoping to have things up and running by next season.