Destin City Council explores ‘downtown’ idea for concerts and sports

DESTIN – In early April, Destin City Council members plan to make individual visits to Alpharetta, the “downtown” of Georgia and another major mixed-use development called Avalon for ideas that could help them shape Destin’s potential multimillion-dollar downtown project.

Destin’s council members have spoken in recent years of “the The luckiest fishing village in the world“possibly having its own downtown area, which could include a huge multi-purpose facility that could accommodate various activities such as cultural festivals, concerts, and sporting events such as ice hockey games and high school basketball tournaments.

During Monday’s council meeting, Mayor Gary Jarvis suggested that Destin’s possible downtown could possibly be developed just northwest of the Main Street-US Highway 98 intersection where Old Time Pottery and other businesses in the Downtown Destin mall.

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Jarvis said Lakeland-based Publix had purchased about 21 acres in that corner and the company’s preliminary plan called for about a third of the entire site to be used for a Publix-anchored mall.

The mayor said much of the remaining space would be ideal for Destin’s potential downtown core – which he saw as a “high and visionary” project – rather than potential multi-family housing.

He also told council members that he still needed to talk with Publix officials about their development plan and whether the city could work with them.

Destin Mayor Gary Jarvis speaks at a city council meeting last year.  Jarvis interested in developing a mixed-use resort "downtown."

“I think our meeting with Publix will be soon,” Jarvis said. “Visiting downtown Alpharetta and getting your own vision of what a downtown would look like is paramount.”

Destin’s potential downtown could include a new city hall and community center, he said. The possible relocation of the existing city hall would free up land for new sports facilities, Jarvis added.

The council subsequently issued support for exploring such a project.

At the start of Monday’s meeting, Destin High School Principal Christine Cruickshank and Athletic Director Phil Dorn asked the city to consider helping DHS provide better facilities and /or more athletic for the benefit of student-athletes in the school and the community.

DHS opened its doors last August to students in grades 9 through 11. It currently has nearly 300 students and an athletic program of 22 sports, but there are no athletic facilities on its campus.

Dorn told the board that the school had partnered with entities such as Coast Aquatics for swimming, Indian Bayou Golf Club for golf and Destin Tennis Club for tennis, but needed help going from there. ‘before. He said the school would like to partner with the city to develop facilities such as a football stadium and a gymnasium that would benefit everyone.

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After Cruickshank and Dorn’s presentation, counselor Teresa Hebert said she would like to help school officials achieve their goal by forming a task force to work on potential sports facilities for joint use.

“Now that we have our own high school, a potential downtown is even more appealing,” Jarvis said.

Councilman Johnny King said residents have watched the Downtown Destin mall languish for many years.

“It would be great to see something that we could be proud of,” King said.

Publix has purchased approximately 21 acres which includes the Downtown Destin Mall.  Destin Mayor Gary Jarvis wants to explore the possibility of working with Publix and private interests to develop mixed use "downtown."

After learning that the city has a budget of just over $11,000 for travel for city council members, Councilman Dewey Destin indicated his support for touring downtown Alpharetta and Avalon.

“It doesn’t hurt to go see and dream, but I don’t want to dress up without partying,” he said, hinting that he doubted Destin could have its own downtown. .

Jarvis noted that the City of Pensacola has been able to carry out some very successful public-private projects through its partnership with businessman Quint Studer.

In Destin, “the people who would be encouraged to invest in this type of (downtown) project are there,” Jarvis said. “I know I’m not going to write a $60 million check because I can’t, but I know people who can right now. I don’t want to kill the dream.

The council agreed to work with Shane Moody, president and CEO of the Destin Chamber of Commerce, and local businessman Steven Franco to arrange tours of Alpharetta’s facilities.

Franco is an Atlanta native and real estate agent who in 2018 launched Beachworx, the first state-of-the-art coworking facility in Destin. Beachworx is across from US 98 from Destin Commons.

Destin’s potential downtown “would be transformational and generational,” Moody said at the council meeting.