City makes dent in rec center debt

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TONY JUDNICH @Tonyjnwfdn

FORT WALTON BEACH — Proceeds from the sale of a vacant city lot to Whataburger Real Estate LLC will be used to help pay down the debt on the Fort Walton Beach Recreation Center, City Manager Michael Beedie said.

The 0.67-acre lot at 25 Miracle Strip Parkway S.W. stands immediately west of a Whataburger restaurant and was used for a gas station decades ago.

Last week, the City Council approved selling the parcel for $350,000 to Whataburger, which Beedie said plans to use the site as a parking lot.

The city had purchased the property in 2009 for $149,900, according to the Okaloosa County Property Appraiser’s website. Beedie said the city had bought it through foreclosure proceedings and then helped oversee an environmental cleanup of the property.

“That lot has been vacant for the 28 years that I’ve been here,” Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Ted Corcoran said recently.

Fort Walton Beach-based NBI Properties Inc., the city’s real-estate consultant, will receive a 5 percent, or $17,500, commission on the sale. City officials will use the remaining proceeds to help pay off the debt on the rec center, which opened on Jet Drive in June 2015.

The remaining debt, before the sale proceeds are applied, is a little more than $7.1 million, city spokeswoman Jo Soria said. The city borrowed a little more than $8 million to develop the center.

Beedie said a city policy calls for using the proceeds from the sale of excess city lands to pay off the loan on the center.

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