Visit South Walton and the Walton County Board of County Commissioners recently purchased three beachfront parcels and a 7.35 acre inland property with the goal of preserving public beach access and reduce traffic congestion in South Walton County. In less than a year, the county has used funds from Tourism Development Taxes (a 4-percent “bed tax” levied on short term rentals) to purchase beachfront properties in South Walton for future use as regional beach accesses, as well as a tract of land originally slated for development as a 153-room condo/hotel property.
The move will now help reduce traffic congestion by expanding parking options in the Grayton Beach area, with the possibility of serving as a trolley hub in the future.
By expanding the number of regional beach accesses from the currently existing seven regional beach accesses (offering parking, bathroom facilities and lifeguards during season) to 10 regional beach accesses, less pressure will be placed on any single stretch of beach, and locals and visitors alike will have greater ease of access to South Walton’s beautiful beaches. These regional beach accesses are in addition to three beachfront state parks, and 52 neighborhood access points.
“This is a win-win for Walton County,” said Visit South Walton Executive Director Jay Tusa. “The addition of regional accesses is great for locals, and safeguards our visitors’ experience as well. Tourism accounts for $3.2 billion in economic impact in Walton County, and that helps fund jobs and projects throughout the entire county. Easy access to the beach is important to both visitors and our locals, so it makes sense to work to preserve the high-quality beach experience we all enjoy here in South Walton.”
Recent acquisitions and future regional access points include:
Miramar Beach: On April 25, 2017 the Walton County BCC voted unanimously to approve the purchase by Visit South Walton of a 2.03 acre beachfront parcel for $4.2 million, including 360-feet of frontage on the Gulf of Mexico on the south side of Scenic Gulf Drive, between Alamo Street and S. Geronimo Street. Purchase price of this parcel was well below appraised value.
Seagrove Beach: Visit South Walton purchased three adjacent pieces of property connecting from 30A to the beachfront, totaling approximately 1.5 acres with 117-feet of beachfront, located across from Café Thirty-A restaurant, between Somerset Bridge Rd. and Sugar Sand Ln. The purchase price was $4.9 million. The Walton County BCC voted unanimously to authorize Chairwoman Cecilia Jones to sign closing documents on April 25, 2017.
Dune Allen Beach: Visit South Walton purchased 1.51 acres of beachfront property in Dune Allen Beach, acquiring 220-feet of beachfront for $7.4 million after a unanimous vote by the Walton County Board of County Commissioners at the BCC meeting on August 23, 2016. The property is between Hilltop Dr. and Woodward Dr. on Hwy 30A.
Grayton Beach: In September 2016 the Walton County BOCC approved the purchase of a 7.35 acre site along CR-283 where previous owners had planned a combination hotel/condo and retail space facility, including 75 hotel rooms and 78 condo units. Purchased by Visit South Walton for $7.6 million, current plans are now instead for the property to be used to expand parking and lessen traffic congestion in the Grayton Beach area.
Total: $24.1 million, 12.66 acres and 697-feet of beachfront.