New massive retail, entertainment development on US 98 wants to be ‘heart of Navarre’

[ Originally posted by Pensacola News Journal ]

A retail center that spans more than 250,000 square feet is in the works for Navarre, but specific tenants and the types of business that will occupy the U.S. 98 property remain to be determined.

Destin-based Navarre Beach Crossings LLC is behind the venture. It will bring a town- center concept to the 33-acre property next to Publix and and just west of the intersection of State Route 87 and U.S. 98.

“This is going to be the focal point and heart of Navarre,” said Merg Hoffman of Merganser Enterprises, an Atlanta-based commercial real estate company representing the Navarre Beach Crossings ownership team. “We want a pedestrian, family friendly atmosphere where people who live in south Santa Rosa and who visit south Santa Rosa County can shop and seek entertainment. We want to provide that quality of life to south Santa Rosa County.”

Craig Kruse, who owns the Santa Rosa RV Resort located across U.S. 98 from the planned center, and brothers Chandler and Brandon Huff are the primary partners of Navarre Beach Crossings.

Hoffman said it’s too soon for the developers to know what type of retail and entertainment might end up on the property. Navarre Beach Crossings bought the property for $5.4 million in late January, according to the Santa Rosa County Property Appraiser website.

“We’re in the preliminary design phase,” Hoffman said. “We’re in the preliminary stages, and we’re still evaluating on what we can do and what we can’t do.”

Hoffman, who has been a part of development projects in Northwest Florida for about 15 years, was involved in the development of the Publix Super Market next door to the planned retail center. He said this land has been on the group’s radar for more than a decade.

“We think the timing is right, and we think there is a need,” Hoffman said.

He declined to discuss how much it will cost to build on the property, saying only “it’s substantial.”

The ownership group also has plans to put in a walking trail, and that is a piece of the development that pleases Santa County County Commissioner Rob Williamson, who represents the Navarre area.

“These guys don’t have to add anything to make it a lifestyle experience,” Williamson said. “I like everything I’ve heard.”

Williamson said the development group’s significant investment in the property and the area is a big sign that there are people who believe in the direction Navarre is heading by creating a “gateway” at the site for the region’s tourism.

 “It’s one of the first things you’ll see when you come into Navarre and I think they believe in the vision and direction on where things are going,” the commissioner said.