Destin condo project held up in development phase

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By Maddie Rowley | 315-4353 | @maddiedestinlog |

DESTIN — The condominium complex and mixed use development project proposed for 1 Calhoun Ave. in Destin has run into several bureaucratic snarls.

The developer is in the process of completing a major development application for city of Destin staff members to review.

According to lawyer Dana Matthews of Matthews & Jones LLP, his client paid the $3,500 fee to fill out and turn in a development agreement, but it was rejected by the City Council.

“We were told we had to start the application process over again,” Matthews said.

Steve Schmidt, who was the interim community development director at the time, said that the development agreement for the proposed 100- to 110-foot-tall, 13-story condominium complex didn’t meet height requirements and it had more floors than was allowed by the comp plan in place at the time.

According to Public Information Manager Doug Rainer, the newly amended comp plan is currently with the state for approval.

“A developer agreement is a give and take,” Schmidt said. “From the staff’s perspective, it didn’t meet the requirements and it didn’t specify plans for the easement. The agreement lacked overall specificity.”

Matthews said that his client, James Mercer Williams, who is the president of Sandman Development Inc., was more than willing to negotiate an easement and has discussed options with the city throughout the application process.

Matthews isn’t convinced that staff and City Council members support development in Destin.

“This is a fundamental transgression against private property rights and they’ll be hearing about it in the future in a different forum than (the) City Council,” Matthews said.

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