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It is widely known for a downtown to survive and prosper, infrastructure must be improved to entice customers to patronize local businesses. One of the improvements, which are always at the top of the minds of downtown business owners, is the need for additional parking. This will entice more customers to enjoy the historic downtown area and have a great shopping experience. It is also understood to attract investors, developers, restaurant, and retail owners to invest in the City of Fort Walton Beach; you must invest in infrastructure improvements, such as additional parking, to accommodate a larger customer base in the historic downtown area. Why is this important now? A Lender is willing to loan over $25M to the Developers of the Landmark Center today to bring a 120,000 square foot mixed use Development, featuring a Hotel, Restaurants, Retail Shops, and a small number of Loft Condos to the historic downtown district. To accommodate the parking needs of this development and use the adjacent city property to increase the parking available for local citizens, the Landmark Center developers have proposed a joint venture opportunity in the construction of a Parking Deck, which will service the customers of the Landmark Center, as well as, the remaining business in the downtown Fort Walton Beach area. This initiative would create a major economic boost to the Historic Downtown District, as well as a number of jobs for the local economy. Below is information from an economic report created recently by HAAS Center of the University of Northwest Florida, which outlines the economic impact of the Landmark Center Project.
· Total construction costs will now total $25.5 million
· The hotel will cover 70,000 square feet, have 90 rooms, a projected occupancy rate of 70%, and projected average nightly room rate of $130.
· The Landmark Center will house an apartment complex containing 15 units at approximately 1,200 feet2 per unit to be leased at $1,500 per month with a projected occupancy of 90%.
· The parking garage will house 305 spaces to be managed by the Center directly.
· The project will be fully complete on Summer 2014.
· Total millage rates for Okaloosa County are assumed to be 0.003290 for the life of the project, 0.004538 for the City of Fort Walton Beach, 0.007690 for the Okaloosa County School District and 0.000045 for the Northwest Florida Water Management District (updated from 2009). All other assumptions regarding taxing structures are the same as those presented in the 2009 report.
· Property values are assumed to appreciate at 3% per year over the life of the project.
· One third of all recurring jobs will be net new employment for Okaloosa County.
Non-recurring Construction Impacts - Utilizing the IMPLAN model, we calculated that the construction phase of the project would generate 297 net new non-recurring jobs over the life-span of the construction phase along with $37.8 million in net new sales to the Okaloosa County economy.
Recurring Impacts - Utilizing national per-square-foot estimates, we calculated that the retail space would generate 50 direct jobs at the site. We utilized the data presented above to calculate that the hotel would generate $2.99 million per year in revenue. The average annual sales per worker for the accommodations industry in Okaloosa County is $130,000. We calculated that accommodations sales totaling $2.99 million in Okaloosa County would therefore likely generate 27 new jobs along with $149,457 in bed tax collections annually. We assumed that the parking garage and the apartment complex would employ 8 full and part-time individuals directly. Summing across these figures, we therefore calculated that the project would generate 85 direct jobs in Fort Walton Beach. Inputting these figures into the IMPLAN model to calculate the total effects, we estimated that these 85 direct new jobs would generate an additional 29 jobs (indirect and induced) for a total of 115 recurring jobs associated with the Landmark Project. These 115 recurring jobs will generate approximately $2.7 million in local wages and income to proprietors of local firms and account for $9.7 million in added local sales annually. Approximately 1/3 of this total is conservatively expected to be net new jobs/wages/sales to the Okaloosa County economy.
Over the first 15 years, the Landmark Center operation is forecast to generate $1.6 million in ad valorem property taxes for Okaloosa County, $2.2 million for Fort Walton Beach and $3.8 million in other ad valorem tax revenues almost all of which will flow to the Okaloosa County School district.
With the Developers designing, managing, and maintaining this parking parage for the life of the development at no additional cost to the City is without a doubt is one of the best investments the City of Fort Walton Beach can make to the betterment of our community.
Please give this opportunity serious consideration. This opportunity for developers and lenders to consider Fort Walton Beach a place to invest in does not come along very often and your actions in providing a developer friendly atmosphere will go a long way in revitalizing the City of Fort Walton Beach.