[ Originally posted by Northwest Florida Daily News ]
NAVARRE — A group of investors under the name Navarre Beach Crossing, LLC purchased 33 acres of commercial property sitting east of the Publix Shopping Center in Navarre to create a “very exciting project,” according to District 4 Commissioner Rob Williamson.
The development, situated on the northwest corner of the intersection of Highways 98 and 87, will include a retail and restaurant area, but one of the key elements planned for the project is a movie theater — a first for Navarre and a long-desired feature for the unincorporated area.
“This is the kind of capital investment Navarre residents want,” Williamson said.
According to the Santa Rosa County Property Appraiser website, the property was purchased on Jan. 26 for $5,495,000. The land has sat vacant since at least 1976.
Right now, development plans are in the “early stages,” said developer Merg Hoffman. There is no word yet what the anchor tenant would be or what other amenities would be involved with the project.
Hoffman is one of the developers on the project alongside Craig Kruse and brothers Chandler and Brandon Huff. Hoffman is based in Atlanta and was the developer on the adjacent Publix shopping center.
“I’ve been involved with this property for 15 years,” he said. “The timing is right. We want to provide a safe, pedestrian-friendly, family environment and take some of the good from surrounding communities and bring it in Santa Rosa County … give people a reason to shop and play in the heart of Navarre.
Williamson said the upcoming development’s looks will be aesthetically pleasing and consistent with the Publix shopping center. Early plans for the center will include using the retention pond located on the property as part of design plans including a lighted walking path, which will be a “central element of design.”
“When you’re driving down Highway 87 coming into the heart of Navarre is will be one of the first things you see,” Williamson said. “This is not just about the retail and restaurant opportunities. They’re looking at doing an innovative type of development. This can separate us from other communities.”
In 2015, Santa Rosa County commissioners expanded Navarre’s hours for alcohol sales on the mainland until 2:30 a.m. to match the hours of sales on the beach. Williamson credits those changes as well as cooperation from public entities such as Holley Navarre Water System’s board of directors and Florida Department of Transportation to help new developments come to Navarre.
“I’m excited to know what Navarre is capable of,” he said. “This is the kind of stuff we do want so residents spend more time in Navarre.”