Gulf Breeze eyes big profit on Wayside Park

In a proposed deal that even Donald Trump might envy, the Gulf Breeze City Council is seeking a mark-up of nearly $13 million on a $100 investment by selling a sliver of Wayside Park to the state as right-of-way for the new Pensacola Bay Bridge.

With the deadline just two weeks away for the Florida Department of Transportation to pick a design-build firm from a list of five finalists competing for the contract, Gulf Breeze officials are estimating the value for a still-unspecified share of the 5.9-acre park at about $13 million – based on the opinion of a private consultant.

Such a price would represent a windfall for the city, amounting to more than its annual revenue from property and other taxes, according to its 2015 annual financial report.

The entire park property is valued at $2.1 million on Santa Rosa County Property Appraiser records.

Those records also show that the city obtained the park land along the east side of U.S. Highway 98 as, of all things, a gift from the state. The deed changed hands in 1989 when an arm of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection accepted $100 for the property.

Learning of the legacy, FDOT spokesman Ian Satter told the Navarre Press, “We shouldn’t have to buy it back now.”

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