Northwest Florida Roundup
Pensacola has received a $3.9-million grant from the state to build a headquarters for the American Magic sail racing team at the city’s port. The state grant will be coupled with an $8.5-million grant from Triumph Gulf Coast, a non-profit that doles out funds recovered from fines related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
American Magic, which is sponsored by the New York Yacht Club, has been using facilities at the Port of Pensacola as its winter headquarters training site for the past two years. The team will be competing for the 2024 America’s Cup to be held in Barcelona, Spain. The team plans to bring up to 150 jobs to Pensacola from its current headquarters in Rhode Island once the facility is complete.
The grant dollars will be combined with contributions from Escambia County, the city and the Tourist Development Council to fund the $45.2-million project, which will house the headquarters and research facilities of the Center for Maritime Excellence. Pensacola Mayor D.C. Reeves says if American Magic wins the America’s Cup next year there is a possibility the 2028 international sailing race could be held in Pensacola.
- Plans are moving forward for two condominium projects on Santa Rosa County’s Navarre Beach. Port Navarre, planned for the sound side of the barrier island, calls for three 16-story buildings, each containing 220 condo/hotel units and parking garages. The second project, to be located on the Gulf side of the island, is being developed by Navarre Beach Hotels and will feature a 200-room hotel and 34 condo units. Construction is complete on the 344-unit Grove Apartments in Perry. It’s the largest multi-family, workforce housing development in Taylor County in recent years.
- Pensacola’s Community Redevelopment Agency has approved a $1.5-million reimbursement to a Louisiana-based developer with plans to build a mixed-use development in the downtown urban core.
- Bearing Point Properties asked for the reimbursement to assist with a $2.4-million series of infrastructure improvements that will allow for the construction of the $45-million Westmore, an apartment complex including a 37,000-sq.-ft. grocery store, 328 apartments and a 175-space parking deck.
- Allyson Watson, who came to Florida A&M University in 2019 as dean of the College of Education, was named provost/vice president for academic affairs after serving in the role on an interim basis since December 2022.
- Suzuki Marine USA kicked off operations at its Suzuki Marine Technical Center in Panama City. The recently completed development of the 20-acre waterfront testing center includes a 9,037-sq.-ft. main building with office space, conference rooms, technical/service bays and inside boat storage. Other amenities include a private launch ramp with docks and a 300-ft. protective seawall.
- The city of Tallahassee is reviewing plans for a proposed 39,000-sq.-ft. Tesla dealership. If eventually approved and constructed, it would be the first Tesla dealership in Northwest Florida.
- Gulf County commissioners recently approved a proposed public-private partnership with the St. Joe Co. to build a county airport to accommodate small, private aircraft. If eventually constructed, the 480-acre facility would be owned by the county and leased by St. Joe, which would provide the land. Amid a truck driver shortage, Kratos Defense & Security Solutions recently deployed its first self-driving, heavy-duty trucks (weighing in excess of 33,000 pounds) in what’s known as a leader-follower platoon, where a driverless truck follows a humandriven one. The equipment, which the company designed for Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative, was designed and installed by Kratos’ team in Fort Walton Beach and tested on local roads including Interstate 10 before being deployed in North Dakota to haul sugar beets.
- After more than three years, Naval Air Station Pensacola has reopened to the public to allow limited access to the National Naval Aviation Museum — one of the most popular attractions in Northwest Florida — and other portions of the base, including the Pensacola Lighthouse and Fort Barrancas. The museum and the base closed to civilians following a terrorist attack in December 2019 that left three U.S. sailors dead and eight others wounded. Prior to its closing, the museum had attracted about 750,000 visitors annually.